Proteas netballers get closer against New Zealand, but still no cigar
Sport Proteas netballers get closer against New Zealand, but still no cigar 25 January 2018 - 21:32 By David Isaacson The Proteas netball team pushed their New Zealand opponents hard in Johannesburg last night - but just couldn't find the winning touch. File picture.
Image: Getty Images
The Proteas mixed grit and hope at the Ellis Park indoor arena on Thursday night as they gave the mighty Silver Ferns their closest contest in 23 years.
But it just wasnât enough as the Kiwis won this encounter 51-46 to keep alive their hopes of retaining the quad series crown.
Having succumbed by just four goals to Australia in their opening match of the quad series at the weekendâ the South African netballers went into this match with great aspirations. And they attacked from the start and rocketed into a 3-0 leadâ much to the delight of the partisan crowd who cheered every home goal with ear-splitting applause.
But the experiencedâ slick New Zealanders glided back into the gameâ finding gaps between the South Africans to pass the ball and boxing in the goal-shooters. And they preyed on unforced errors.
The crowd responded with silence.
B y the end of the first quarter the visitors led 14-9 and at halftime 25-21.
In the third quarter captain Bongi Msomiâ who moved to centreâ rallied her troops into a magnificent fightbackâ reducing the deficit to just two points at 29-31â but the black juggernaut rolled once more with a decisive wave of good play to see out the stanza 39-34.
On several occasions the Proteas looked like world-beaters â" goal shoot Lenize Potgieter and goal attack Maryka Holtzhausen were menacing in front of the basket and on the other side Karla Mostert-Pretorius and Phumza Maweni were as disruptive as tsotsis in downtown Joburg.
Had they stolen a few more of these momentsâ they could have recorded their first victory over New Zealand since the 1995 world championships.
At least Thursdayâs five-point margin is the closest theyâve come against New Zealand since thenâ eclipsing the six-pointer from last year.
âIt was poor decision making at the end w hen we had such sensational turn-overs and then blew it at the other endââ said SA coach Norma Plummer.
âThe game wasnât a skilled gameâ but it was a pressure game. New Zealand knew they had to put their foot down all the timeâ¦they just finished it off a bit better.â
New Zealand Coach Janine Southby was pleased with her teamâs ability to show composureâ one of their failures when losing against England in their series opener.
âTo everybody keep calm under pressure in the final minutes was pleasingââ she said. âWe didnât do that against England.â
SA play England in the final match on Sunday while New Zealand take on unbeaten Australia.
Wins over top teams should be SA's measurement of progressâ says netball coachSouth African netball coach Norma Plummer would like to start measuring the Proteas in terms of victories against top teamsâ not narrow defeats. Sport 1 day ago SUNDAY TIMES FROM R56 PER MONTH Subscribe now for full
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