Belfast Telegraph

NI flex muscles in opening World Cup warm-up clash

 

Dan Ryan
Dan Ryan

By Richard Bullick

Northern Ireland's netballers began their official countdown to next week's World Cup by beating Barbados 60-45 in yesterday afternoon's first warm-up match in Manchester.

These two teams have faced each other in important matches in the recent past, including the Quad Series final in Lisburn two years ago.

That nervy 35-33 victory effectively clinched qualification for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, at which Northern Ireland won the group game between the sides 49-39.

There was less resting on yesterday's friendly, but the girls in green again got the result against the Caribbean nation, now ranked 11th in the world.

It was a very encouraging effort from Dan Ryan's team, especially considering there could be a very significant fixture between the Warriors and Bajan Gems in the second phase of this World Cup.

If other results go according to seeding, the pair could find themselves facing off for one place in the top eight, though there is a lot of netball to be played before then.

Assuming Northern Ireland qualify by finishing in the top three of Pool A, which also includes Australia, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka, their next opponents are likely to be New Zealand, Malawi and Barbados.

Yesterday's game gave Ryan a chance to share out the court time, get the squad's fresh faces involved and try various combinations in the shooting circle.

The Warriors now come up against England A in Manchester this morning before travelling down to Cardiff for Test matches against Malawi and Trinidad tomorrow and Sunday.

Belfast Telegraph

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