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Netball: Wildcats will have to 'grab the moment' if they are to rise to this challenge

The local school bairns invited along to the Emirates Arena certainly made themselves heard with their shrieking and shouting, but the din would eventually be subdued.

By the end of the opening match in netball's World Premier Club Challenge yesterday morning, it was Manchester Thunder who were making all the noises on the court.

The Glasgow Wildcats, stepping up to a level of competition that demands focus, energy, awareness and tactical nous at all times, gave it a good go against the reigning Fiat Netball Superleague champions, but they were always up against it.

In the end, the hosts went down to a 56-34 defeat. With four matches to come against some of the best of Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, it's shaping up to be a tough old week for the Scots.

As the build-up to the 2014 Commonwealth Games gathers pace, however, this is exactly the kind of rigorous work-out they need. The experience and competitive intensity of this round-robin tournament will stand them in good stead.

If further proof was needed of the quality on show, then it came from yesterday's other early fixture. Surrey Storm, runners-up in the Superleague for the last two seasons, lost 79-38 to the classy Kiwis of Haier Central Pulse.

To utilise the old football phrase, the Wildcats versus Thunder match was something of a game of two halves. For the opening couple of quarters, the Wildcats made their presence felt and certainly made their decorated opponents work for a 26-18 half-time lead.

"In the first quarter in particular, we really competed and got the intensity right up," said team captain, Lesley MacDonald.

It was a different ball game after the resumption, though. The Wildcats, who made a number of personnel changes during this period, were all too often hampered by a poor final pass, while Thunder upped the tempo and capitalised on the errors of their rivals.

"I would say I'm disappointed and we need to be stronger in the four quarters," admitted Wildcats coach, Denise Holland. "We were a bit loose. We made the wrong choices and the wrong pass at times. We need to make more effective decisions under pressure and grab the moment. It's going to be a long week and they'll need to work for it."

Next up for the Wildcats, the elite Australians of West Coast Fever.

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