The much-anticipated Rainbow Paints Blantyre and Districts Netball League clash between arch-rivals Kukoma Diamonds and First Choice Tigresses ended in a 48-41 defeat for the former.
Both sides appeared to have prepared for the match as Diamonds brought in Lilongwe-based defender Caroline Kamtukule Ngwira while Tigresses had Lilongwe-based wing attacker Beatrice Mpinganjira, shooter Sindi Simutowe and defender Grace Mwafulirwa all the way from Mzuzu.
Diamonds appeared to stand the heat in the first quarter as they trailed narrowly 12-13 to Tigresses.
But Tiga seized control in the second and third quarters, using the height advantage of their shooter Tendai Masamba, while a cocktail of turnovers in the Diamonds shooting circle was their undoing. They trailed 40-28 with a quarter to go.
In the fourth, Tigresses did just enough to hold on to their lead and secure top spot as Diamonds appeared to have rectified some of their scoring deficiencies and were threatening a comeback. It did not happen and Tigresses went on to win 48-41
Tigresses coach Peace Chawinga Kalua could not hide her excitement.
“It feels good to win the game, especially in the first round. We have seen the girls doing well. We have some things we still need to rectify. This game was supposed to be won with a wider margin but the performance in the last quarter was not that perfect but the girls have done it, I’m proud of them,” said a beaming Chawinga-Kalua.
Diamonds coach Noel Mussa, hopes to bounce back in the second round against Tigresses. He blamed the gap left by shooter Alinafe Chimwala who was conscripted in the Malawi Army for some of the attacking lapses.
In earlier matches, Imosys formerly Thunder Queens shrugged off Prison Sisters 37-33. The win moves Imosys up to second, having won all their four games so far. They have the same number of points-12 as leaders Tigresses but lag behind on goal difference.
Chilomoni Sisters suffered a narrow 39-38 loss to Shizaella, Polytechnic recorded a 44-38 win over Gerald Tasaukadala while Machinjiri edged out Chileka sisters 34-26