In an up-and-down match in Wembley Arena on Wednesday evening, the SPAR Proteas faced the reality that inevitably; England were the better team. Showing more maturity, stamina and strength in play; the English gained as South Africa waned as the game progressed.
As always, the SPAR Proteas were off to a strong start. Taking guidance from their coaching sessions to heart, the attack players played a patient and controlled game, despite the high intensity of the match.
The attack combination of Msomi, Mdaka, Holtzhausen and Myburgh was solid, and a number of goals were scored in the beginning of the first quarter.
However, England edged more into the lead as the ruthless goal defence Stacey Francis made a number of intercepts, and the home side led after the first whistle by 13 goals to 9.
England were first to score off a South African centre in the second quarter and began to run away with their lead, scoring a further 7 goals to SA’s 4 within seven minutes. The SPAR Proteas were not able to capitalise on their intercepts and threw away a number of opportunities.
Simnikiwe Mdaka called for injury and was replaced in wing attack by Holtzhausen as Lindie Lombard took over goal attack.
Despite a few good minutes of play by the South Africa side, they were hampered by a lack of confidence in the goal circle. It was in moments like these that the maturity of the English side showed.
“Our goal attack was not able to properly support our goal shooter,” said Coach Elize Kotze after the game, “We need our goal attack to be fearless and take crazy shots at goal.”
The third quarter saw a number of changes to both sides as Vanes-Mari du Toit was brought on as goal keeper, Yolandi Stone as wing attack, and Mostert and Niemand were moved to wing defence and goal defence, respectively.
Anna Mayes also made a number of changes to her wing attack, centre and goal keeper positions.
England was first to score again as the SPAR Proteas made a number of errors. The South African defence efforts were hampered as balls were continuously lost close to the goal circle as the attack team was put under immense pressure for space and movement.
English goal shooter Jo Harten – who was celebrating her 50th cap, had a brilliant game, and was back on form after she was benched in the first test.
SPAR Proteas captain was moved back onto court within a few minutes as her team’s confidence started to drop. However, the third quarter reflected much of the style of play as the previous one, with England bullying their way further into the lead with a 41-25 score.
Although there was some redemptive play by the South African’s in the third quarter, it was not strong enough to close in on the experienced English team. Niemand capitalised on a number of rebounds, but again the SPAR Proteas struggled to find space to play the court and lost opportunities.
The final whistle blew at 51-33 to the English side.
“This was a very disappointing result, as we could not play with consistency,” said Kotze after the game. “We started off very well and had more than enough turn over balls to survive a match like this, again this comes down to a lack of discipline on ball possession, and conditioning.”
The England vs SPAR Proteas International Series Fixtures and Results (All SA times): Sun 22: England 49-38 SPAR South Africa Wed 25: England 51-33 SPAR South Africa Fri 27, 20h45: Sept at the University Arena, Worcester SPAR National Netball Team: Melissa Myburgh Lindie Lombard Yolandi Stone Maryka Holtzhausen (Captain) Bongiwe Msomi (Captain) Simnikiwe Mdaka Nokuthula Qegu Karla Mostert Precious Mthembu Adele Niemand Vanes-Mari du Toit Nontle Gwavu England Seniors: Sara Bayman (Vice-Captain) Sophia Candappa Kadeen Corbin Ama Agbeze Eboni Beckford-Chambers Pamela Cookey (Captain) Sasha Corbin Rachel Dunn Serena Guthrie Natalie Haythornthwaite Laura Malcolm Stacey Francis Joanne Harten Lindsay Keable Rachel Shaw
(With editing by gsport)