SA vs Eng Netball Preview

by | Jan 25, 2007

SA Captain Karin Venter in action on Tuesday’s first test against England in Birmingham. Picture by Ben Duffy/SWpix.comThere may have been only three goals in it, but it was a victory nonetheless, and that victory over England Under 21s on Tuesday night has given the SPAR SA Netball side an all-important confidence boost, ahead of their second Test against the England seniors in Manchester, England, on Thursday evening.

Confidence is just what they need after suffering a 67-30 drubbing at the hands of the English in Birmingham earlier this week. Despite that disappointing result, it seems neither side is looking at the next two Tests as foregone conclusions.

"We can’t expect South Africa aren’t going to improve for the next Test," said England coach Marg Caldow after the Birmingham match. "They are a very young side and so it is going to take a while to settle into their combinations, but they just be getting better and better," she added.

Caldow also commented on the change in SA shooter Sindi Gumede’s game. "Sindi is moving a lot more than when we last played South Africa at the Commonwealth Games. Normally she is quite a stationary shooter, so we will have to rethink our tactics on how to defend her."

Meanwhile, the South African camp are focussed on narrowing the gap that seems to have widened between themselves and the country ranked only one place above them in the world standings.

"I think that win over the under 21s was very important to boost confidence and this will really help us going into the next match," said assistant coach Hazel Gumede.

"The encouraging thing in that game is that we were down by six goals after the first quarter but during the course of the match we managed to rectify our mistakes and come back to win it 52-49. This just shows the girls that it can be done and they should have confidence in themselves.

"Yes, England will be stronger than they were in Birmingham but they will also realise that if we can stick to our game plan and stay focussed for the whole hour, not just the first quarter like we did on Monday, they can be surprised. They won’t take us as underdogs."

Gumede admitted there had been "hiccups" in the SA game plan but that the team had been working hard on sorting these out.

"What we need to do is focus on consistency. From the shooters to the defenders, we need to be more consistent, not panic and not make basic mistakes," she said.

"What I am hoping is that we can narrow that goal margin as much as possible."

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