Narrow Win Boosts Proteas

South Africa held their nerve down the home straight to stave off a testing Samoa 54-50 at the New World Netball World Championships in Auckland today, a result which gives South Africa the chance to defend their world ranking of fifth against Malawi on Saturday.

The two evenly-matched teams produced an exciting spectacle during which momentum swung backwards and forwards, as each team enjoyed prosperous patches without being able to take complete control.

Taking advantage of Samoa’s slow start, South Africa had the early ascendancy before the teams level-pegged for the remainder of the match, and enjoyed the greater share of possession to lead the first quarter 16-12, but a low conversion rate allowed Samoa to stay in touch.

Samoa tied the game up with a big surge late in the second quarter which lifted the tempo further in an uncompromising battle, as South Africa edged to a 28-27 halftime advantage.

The second half turned into a titanic struggle, the do-or-die commitment producing plenty of thrills, spills and tense moments as the contest continued to ebb and flow.

Shooters Sindisiwe Gumede, for South Africa, and Catherine Latu for Samoa, were pivotal figures as the duo carried their respective team’s hopes under extreme defensive pressure. Both sets of in-circle defenders also had their moments to pull off a clutch of vital intercepts as the stakes grew.

With the scores level at 39-all heading into the final 15 minutes, South Africa’s composure stayed intact while Samoa were unable to mount one final assault and their brave challenge faltered.

"That game was definitely a relief because we now go into tomorrow’s game defending our fifth position, making today’s game absolutely crucial," South Africa’s captain Bronwyn Bock-Jonathan said. "It was also important for our morale and coming back from our big losses to England and the Silver Ferns and today showing a lot of character."

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