NETBALL: Northern Ireland ease to 74-21 victory over Chinese Taipei

Kyla Bowman in action for Northern Ireland
Kyla Bowman in action for Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland ruthlessly crushed outclassed Chinese Taipei 74-21 to confirm their place in Saturday’s Mission Foods Nations Cup final in Singapore.

The tournament favourites predictably cruised to their fourth win in four days in a one-sided affair which was settled inside the first quarter.

In spite of losing one of their forwards Sarah Montgomery to injury inside the opening 60 seconds, Julie Kimber’s side reeled off 10 goals in six minutes.

Montgomery’s departure brought the towering Bowman sisters together up front with Kyla coming on to join younger sibling Jenna.

It was 18-6 by the first break and Northern Ireland relentlessly extended their advantage to 37-13 at half-time.

That gave Kimber the luxury of withdrawing veteran centre Caroline O’Hanlon and captain Gemma Gibney, both of whom had played every minute of the tournament up until then.

Sinead Redmond and Kirsty McCammon saw their first action of the week meaning all 12 squad members have now had some court-time.

There had been three changes to Tuesday’s starting team including Redmond replacing Graduates colleague Niamh Cooper at wing defence.

Laura Mason came in for Larkfield clubmate Michelle Drayne at wing attack with the Bowman sisters swapping places up front.

Including Kyla Bowman’s switch to goal-shooter, Kimber made six changes at half-time with McCammon coming on at wing attack.

Goalkeeper Gibney was the only player who remained in place as vice-captain Cooper came on for Fionnuala Toner in defence, while a repaired Montgomery resumed at goal attack.

Drayne, Neamh Woods and newcomer McCammon formed an all-new mid-court trio but the wholesale changes offered little respite for Chinese Taipei. It was 58-17 at the last break when the versatile Jenna Bowman came on in her club position of goalkeeper to give Gibney a well-earned breather.

Woods and Drayne switched places with the former moving to wing defence before being substituted due to injury, with Redmond returning to the court.

The one-way traffic continued as Northern Ireland neatly matched their first half goal tally and pushed their margin of victory over the half-century mark.

Northern Ireland’s last round robin match tomorrow will be against their likely opponents in the final, Papua New Guinea.

Having edged Singapore 44-43 in the tournament’s opening game, PNG also squeezed past the Singapore Invitational team by the minimum margin on Wednesday, winning 37-36.