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SA Under-23’s push Aussies all the way in Potchefstroom
- Updated: October 15, 2014
South Africa’s Under-23 invitation netball side gave the Australian Centre of Excellence a solid fight on Tuesday night, but ultimately went down 45-38 in the second match of the SPAR International Series in Potchefstroom.
The Australian outfit, who bagged a 66-33 victory in the opening game on Sunday, won the three-match series with a game to spare.
‘There was a little lack of concentration at times which cost us the game,’ said Dorette Badenhorst, coach of the SPAR SA team, who was delighted with the improved display. It was a great performance on defense and attack.’
The South Africans were boosted by a few players who joined their ranks after the opening match, but the Australians were hit by the absence of three of their key players due to illness.
‘We knew what was expected this time, and what to do on court,’ said SA captain Zandre Kruger. ‘We communicated better and were able to turn more balls on defence to give to the attack.’
The tourists got off to a solid start, and looked to be running away with the match again in the early stages, but the South Africans showed grit and determination to claw their way back into the game.
They moved in front shortly before half-time, leading 22-21 at the interval, with the Australian side placed on the back foot for the first time in the series.
Badenhorst introduced four subs in the third quarter and shifted Izette Lubbe from wing attack to centre, which produced the desired effect as the hosts took control.
Keeping their composure, however, the Australian outfit surged back in front and led 32-28 at the end of the third quarter.
Badenhorst made three more changes, and shifted Shadine van der Merwe from wing defence to goal defence, but Australian coach Michelle den Dekker also rang the changes in the second half, as the visitors drew clear to secure another comfortable win, though far less convincing than Sunday’s victory.
‘The South Africans played hard for the full 60 minutes and kept their momentum,’ said Australian coach Den Dekker. ‘They kept pushing back at us, which was a really big positive for them.’
The SANDF Kopanelo Sport Stadium was packed almost to capacity, with local supporters raising the roof as the South Africans put up a tremendous fight.
‘It was an amazing experience. We don’t get this kind of support at home,’ said Australian centre Maddy Proud. ‘It was fantastic to see so many people appreciating the game.’
The third and final match of the series will be played on Saturday, while the SA fast5 squad will face the Australian side on Wednesday and Friday in the shorter, faster format.
In the picture, Prot Lauren-Lee Christians (left) of South Africa in action along with Kylia Stantos of Australia Centre of Excellence. Picture by: Mario van de wall