It was a relief for the Northern Irish and a gut-wrenching loss for Wales as the Ulsterwomen emerged victorious by single goal, winning 47-46 on the opening day of the Netball Europe Open Championships in Cardiff’s Sport Wales National Centre.

Northern Ireland made a strong start to the match, going ahead by 4 after the first quarter. The first quarter break could not come quickly enough for Cymru and they came back on to the court with a different mindset, with the terrier-like Nia Jones embodying Wales’ new confident streak. Wales were 2 ahead at half time.

The pinpoint accuracy of Northern Ireland’s GS made all the difference in a stagnant third quarter as Northern Ireland established a 5 point advantage. The match came to life in the final act, with Wales enjoying a sustained period of dominance in part thanks to the dynamic moves of Sarah Llewelyn.

It was, however, heartbreak in the final 6 seconds as Wales’ shot – and a chance of a draw – narrowly rebounding. Wales were left to rue missed opportunities earlier in the match and must now regroup ahead of their next match against Fiji.

Nevertheless it was wonderful to mark Christina Shaw’s first senior cap for Wales. 

Quarter scores (Wales first): 11-15; 15-9 (26-24); 7-14 (33-38); 13-9 (46-47).

Wales team: F Davies, S Drane (C), B Dyke, K Jones, N Jones, C Lewis, S Llewelyn, K Morgan, CL Moseley, G Rowe, C Shaw, A Varey.

In the other match of Day 1, Scotland beat Fiji 52-34.