The SPAR Proteas put up a courageous effort against world number one ranked Australia in Thursday’s match of the Quad Series, played in Wellington, New Zealand. Going into the match with a focus on ball control, and patience, the South African side fought hard to keep up with the Diamonds, and showed improvement in the final score of 36-68.
In probably one of their best quarters of the series, the SPAR Proteas put on a great show for the first 15 minutes of their game against the Diamonds. Working against Australia’s sticky man-on-man defence, they were slow to start, but the defence tactic of putting two defenders on lanky Australian Goal Shooter Caitlin Basset seemed to throw the girls in yellow.
It wasn’t long before the Proteas had equalised at 4-4, and within the first five minutes had taken the lead 5-4. The South African team exhibited patience and calculation of their plays, waiting for opportunities on court.
However, after a short break called by Australia, the Diamonds came back with a vengeance and quickly turned the score around. Upping the intensity and putting high pressure on the South African defence, Amanda Mynhardt, Karla Mostert and Zanele Mdodana had to battle it out on court.
With a number of high balls intercepted by Australia, and South Africa struggling to feed into their goal circle due to the grip-like defence of the Diamonds, the Proteas just couldn’t keep up, and the whistle blew with a first quarter score of 19-9.
Showing her confidence in the depth of her team, Coach Elize Kotze benched both her Captain and Vice-Captain for the second quarter, bringing on Thuli Qegu in the Wing Defence post and Vanes-Mari du Toit in the Goal Keeper position, lessening the height gap against the 192cm tall Basset. But South Africa seemed less patient this round as they struggled with the execution of some of their plays.
Despite trailing with a 20 goal difference for the majority of the third quarter, the South African side kept up their consistency. The Protea defence was on top form, as both Karla Mostert and Vanes-Mari du Toit made a number of brilliant intercepts. South Africa managed to maintain their ball possession, but were let down by not capitalising on it.
Once again Bootha was given very little space to move in her goal circle, but managed to dance around the Diamond’s defence to score the Proteas another 10 goals to Australia’s 15.
“We’ve been doing a lot of under-pressure training, which has helped a lot,” said Bootha after the game. “The Australian defenders change the timing of their jumps, which is something that I need to get used to. “You need to be able to shoot under any circumstance, which is something that we need to practise more.”
Australian Diamond Goal Shooter Caitlin Thwaites, who made her debut in the third quarter of today’s match, had a phenomenal game, and her 100% shooting average very much contributed to the Diamond’s pulling away by a further 20 goals in the last quarter. However, South Africa refused to be rattled and continued to fight on admirably.
Msomi and Bootha maintained their good connection, and the Proteas persisted in their defence, ending the game with a score of 36-68.
“We wanted to keep the goal difference under 20 goals,” said SPAR Proteas Captain Mynhardt after the match, “but we showed some good progress on court today.
“We could have capitalised more on our turnovers, but defensively we did well with a lot of good balls and intercepts. We are learning all the time, and so have to be proud of our performance. We’re definitely going to try and win against England.”
The SPAR Proteas play their next game against the Silver Ferns on home turf on Sunday 28 October, at the TECT Arena in Tauranga, New Zealand.
Quad-Series Fixtures for the SPAR Proteas: Sun 14 Oct: New Zealand 63-27 South Africa (Adelaide) Wed 17 Oct: Australia 63-31 South Africa (Newcastle) Sun 21 Oct: England 62-53 South Africa (Sydney) Thu 25 Oct: Australia 68-36 South Africa (Wellington) Sun 28 Oct: New Zealand v South Africa (Invercargill) Thu 1 Nov: England v South Africa (Hamilton) The SA Netball Squad for the 2012 Quad Series: Chrisna Bootha Maryka Holtzhausen Melissa Myburgh Lindie Lombard Nadia Uys Bongiwe Msomi Thuli Qegu Zanele Mdodana (Vice-Captain) Vanes-Mari du Toit Karla Mostert Amanda Mynhardt (Captain) Adele Niemand