Despite an outstanding start, the SPAR Proteas lost their opening match of the 2018 Sanzea Netball Quad Series in Auckland, New Zealand, going down 61-44 to the Australian Diamonds.
The Proteas were on fire at the start, overturning Australia’s opening centre pass, with goalkeeper Phumza Maweni achieving a brilliant intercept in the circle. In the first quarter, the two teams were neck and neck, with the lead changing hands several times.
Maweni and goal defence Karla Pretorius combined very well together, but the Australian shooters, Caitlin Bassett and Stephanie Wood still achieved 100 per cent accuracy in the quarter, which ended with the Diamonds leading 13-11.
It was Australia’s lowest first quarter score against South Africa in 14 years.
With veteran centre court players Erin Burger and Precious Mthembu sidelined with illness and injury, the Proteas’ lack of experience in the centre began to show in the second quarter, despite the efforts of captain Bongi Msomi at wing attack.
The Proteas lost some crucial centre passes, and the Diamonds began to edge ahead, scoring a flurry of unanswered goals, to lead 28-24 at halftime.
But in the third quarter, the Diamonds, playing in their first international since losing to England by one goal in the final of the Commonwealth Games earlier this year, took control of the match, winning the quarter by 18 goals to eight.
They brought on Kelsey Browne at wing attack, and the debutant injected speed and accuracy.
Plummer Responds with More Shooting Height in Venter and Holtzhausen
Proteas coach Norma Plummer substituted Ine-Mari Venter for Maryke Holtzhausen at goal attack, to add more height in the shooting circle.
In the final quarter, Holtzhausen was brought back and Venter took on the role of goalshooter from Lenize Potgieter, succeeding with 10 goals from 10 attempts. Rome Dreyer (centre) and Jessica Khomo (wing defence) made their international debuts.
With a 14-goal cushion, Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander was able to make a number of changes and give most of her bench some game time.
The Proteas managed to keep pace with the Diamonds in the final quarter, which they lost by just three goals. (15-12).
Damage Done and Deficit too Wide
But the damage had been done in the third quarter, and they were unable to make up the difference.
“We started off very well, and were really in the game in the first half,” said SPAR Proteas captain, Bongiwe Msomi. “But our decision-making let us down in the second half and that is something we will have to work on.
“We knew after the halftime break that the Diamonds would come out firing and they sure did. Yes, we should have put more pressure on them but we’ve learned a lesson,” said Msomi.
“I am so proud of the team and particularly of the new caps, and the way they handled themselves and played this big game.” – SPAR Proteas captain Bongiwe Msomi
“It’s great for the future of the SPAR Proteas,” she said.
“We made a great start as planned, but some mistakes cost us,” said Plummer. “We need to keep the same intensity as we started throughout the match.
“Missing four key players, especially in the centre court, is not easy, but it has given opportunities to some new caps and come the World Cup next year, we will hopefully have a bigger pool of players to choose from.”
In the second match, the England Roses beat the New Zealand Silver Ferns 52-39, showing their Commonwealth Games success was not just a flash in the pan.
The Proteas take on New Zealand in Tauranga on Tuesday.
Photo 1 Caption: A young and fighting SPAR Proteas went down 61-44 to the Australian Diamonds in their opening fixture of the 2018 Sanzea Netball Quad Series in Auckland, New Zealand this morning. Pictured is Shooter Lenize Potgieter taking aim against Australia. Photo: Michael Bradley
Photo 2 Caption: The SPAR Proteas, lined up to sing the anthem, are (from left) Lenize Potgieter, Maryka Holtzhausen, Bongiwe Msomi (captain), Khanyisa Chawane (on debut), Shadine van der Merwe, Karla Pretorius (vice-captain), Phumza Maweni, Romé Dreyer (made her debut), Jessica Khome (made her debut), Danelle Lochner, Ine-Marí Venter, Zanele Vimbela. Photo: Michael Bradley
Photo 3 Caption: South Africa’s vice-caption Karla Pretorius on the attack with captain Bongiwe Msomi in support in the first Quad Series match of the 2018-2019 season against Australia in Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: Michael Bradley
Photo 4 Caption: South Africa’s captain Bongiwe Msomi feeding shooter Maryka Holtzhausen in the first Quad Series match of the 2018-2019 season in Auckland, New Zealand. Australia’s Jo Weston and Kim Ravaillion flanked on defence. Photo: Michael Bradley
With editing by gsport