NI beat Samoa to make World Cup quarter-finals

Kyla Bowman is challenged by Samoa's Sanonu Robertson in Singapore
Kyla Bowman is challenged by Samoa's Sanonu Robertson in Singapore

Northern Ireland are through to the World Cup quarter-finals after a surprise 66-37 victory over Samoa in Singapore on Wednesday morning.

It is the best result in the history of the sport in N Ireland and the reward is a clash against England on Friday.

Elain Rice's side, ranked 12th in the world, led the ninth-seeds 31-17 at half-time and cruised to an easy win.

"I'm beyond delighted, it was an unbelievable performance," said coach Rice, who is a former NI captain.

She added: "We genuinely did fancy ourselves in this group but for the girls to go out and do it in such style is fantastic. This is definitely the most important win in our history.

"Considering Northern Ireland didn't qualify for the last tournament in 2007, getting to the quarter-finals for the first time is a great achievement and we're looking forward to facing England in the last eight."

The victory secured second spot in Pool A behind holders Australia.

Captain Noleen Lennon was named player of the match, scoring 47 goals which were supplemented by six from Bowman and 13 from second half sub Oonagh McCullough.

Samoa, quarter-finalists at the last two World Cups, couldn't match the agility and work-rate of Northern Ireland, who hadn't even qualified for New Zealand 2007 and finished 19th in Jamaica four years earlier.

Rice, who has transformed the team's fortunes in the past two years, had the luxury of emptying her bench as all 12 squad members got a run.

Northern Ireland beat Sri Lanka 65-56 before a 75-33 defeat at the hands of the Aussies on Tuesday.

Northern Ireland squad: Noleen Lennon (capt), Micaela Brunton, Fionnuala Toner, Frances Campbell (all Belfast Ladies), Lisa McCaffrey (vice-captain), Gemma Gibney, Hannah Irvine, Oonagh McCullough (all Graduates), Caroline O'Hanlon, Kyla Bowman, Deborah McCarthy, Laura Mason (all Larkfield).

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