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Slow start to Fast 5 for SA netballers

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The SPAR South African team got off to a disappointing start on the opening day of the Fast5 World Netball series in Auckland, New Zealand, losing all three of their matches.
The South Africans started their campaign against Australia. In the opening spell, they held their own, with captain Maryka Holtzhausen looking good as goalshooter, but from the second quarter onwards, the Australian Flyers began to find their feet and exert their authority over the South Africans.
In the third quarter, which South Africa had chosen as their power play quarter, with scores being doubled, the Australian defence prevented the South Africans from scoring a single goal. Australia ran out 30-8 winners. The disappointment for South Africa was they scored five of their points in the first quarter, and added only three after that.
South Africa came up against strong defensive pressure again in their match against England, who forced them into shooting from the one-point zone, so that their score ticked along more slowly than they would have wanted. After trailing 13-4 at halftime, the South Africans made the most of their power play quarter, coming back to within four points of England. However, outstanding power play shooting by Kadeen Corbin and Rachel Dunn in the final quarter, meant England won the match 44-22.
Coach Anna Mayes said England’s strategy had been to prevent South Africa from shooting from the two and three point zones.
‘South Africa has some great three-point shooters, so that was key for us,’ she said.
South Africa’s match of the day was against Jamaica, who dominated throughout, after indifferent performances in their earlier matches. The Sunshine Girls used their height to great effect, and Jamaica had lead 11-5 after the first quarter. South Africa came back strongly in the second quarter, and came within four points of the Jamaicans by halftime. But once again, they were unable to utilise the power play quarter, and were 25-18 behind before the final quarter.
Thristina Harwood, last year’s Player of the Tournament, showed just how good she is in Jamaica’s power play, scoring two six-pointers, and Jamaica won the match 25-40.
Holtzhausen, playing in her third Fast5 tournament, said the match had been a tough oner.
‘But it was also our best performance of the tournament so far. We were looking better in the shooting circle, and that’s given us something to build on.
‘Tomorrow we need to shoot more in the one and two point zones. We need to stick with our opposition, so we don’t need to risk the six-pointers to catch up.’
On Sunday, South Africa play defending champions New Zealand, the only team unbeaten so far, and Malawi, who have yet to win a match.  However, Malawi lost to England by just three points, and Jamaica by one, so they could prove a tough nut to crack.  The two African teams are likely to meet up again in the play-off for fifth place.


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