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Maryka’s Proteas down Malawi to take fifth at Fast5
- Updated: November 10, 2014
The SPAR Fast5 team clinched fifth position in the Fast5 World Netball Series in Auckland, New Zealand, on Sunday, with a decisive 30-22 victory over arch-rivals Malawi in the fifth place play-off.
After losing their opening three matches on Saturday, South Africa had a much better day on Sunday, beating Malawi twice and putting up a valiant performance against defending champions New Zealand.
South Africa’s first match of the day was against the Silver Ferns, who put them under pressure from the start. However, sharp shooting from Proteas captain Maryka Holtzhausen gave her side a 6-4 lead at the first break. New Zealand came back strongly in the second quarter to take a halftime lead of 14-8. The South African defence, led by Amanda Mynhardt, did well to restrict New Zealand to 10 points in their power play quarter. South Africa made good use of their final quarter power play, scoring 16 points, but were unable to catch the Ferns, who won the match 34-25.
Holtzhausen admitted that her side left it too late in the final quarter to take three-point shots and close the gap. ‘We need to up our goal percentages if we want to win a match. We will stick to our game plan and play the best that we can,’ she said.
The Proteas’ last round robin match was against Malawi, who, like South Africa, had not won a match. South Africa threw caution to the wind, taking risks throughout the match, with Holtzhausen sinking two-point goals seemingly at will. Malawi edged ahead in the third quarter, thanks to a six-pointer from their power play, but South Africa took the honours in the end, beating the Malawi Queens 33-30.
Buoyed by their earlier win, the South Africans took charge of the fifth place play-off against their African rivals. Malawi took their power play early, in the second quarter, but were unable to capitalise, and were just three points ahead (14-11) at halftime.
South Africa made their most of their power play, with Holtzhausen nailing a six-pointer and the Proteas had a comfortable 23-17 lead after the third quarter. The final quarter was a fierce battle, but South Africa kept the scoreboard ticking over. As the final whistle blew, Holtzhausen emphasised their victory with a three-pointer and South Africa emerged the winners, 30-22.
‘As a team, we have grown throughout this tournament,’ said goalkeeper turned goal attack Vanes-Mari du Toit. ‘We filled the missing pieces with hard work, and gelled as a team. We’re very pleased to have beaten Malawi twice – they are our biggest competition at home and we always enjoy beating them.’
New Zealand, who have not lost a game since the introduction of Fast5, pulled off a thrilling 35-31 win over arch-rivals Australia in the final, after bidding an emotional farewell to former Protea and long-time Silver Fern goalshooter Irene van Dyk .
In the picture, goalkeeper turned goal attack Vanes-Mari du Toit (left) in action against the Malawi Queens during the play-offs. Picture: Michael Bradley