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New coach Plummer guides Proteas to win against Africa’s No1 side

MARGATE, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 17: Nokubonga Sabiya and Karla Mostert of South Africa give each other a "high 5" after winning against Malawi during day 2 of the Diamond Challenge netball tournament at UGU Sports Centre on June 17, 2015 in Margate, South Africa. (Photo by Reg Caldecott/Gallo Images)

The SPAR Proteas celebrated the official appointment of Australian World Cup winning coach Norma Plummer as their head coach with a decisive 43-33 win over their arch rivals Malawi in the KwaZulu-Natal Diamond Challenge at the Ugu Sports Centre in Gamalakhe on Wednesday.
South Africa took control of the match from the start. Lenize Potgieter was on fire as goalshooter, netting the ball with almost every attempt, including a shot on the run as she passed the post. Captain Maryka Holtzhausen was also effective with shots from the edge of the circle.
At the other end of the court, goalkeeper Adele Niemand and goal attack Karla Mostert did sterling work in defence, with Niemand in particular achieving a number of intercepts and turnovers.
The match was very fast and very physical, with players on both sides blown up for over-enthusiastic contact. Bongi Msomi, playing wing attack, moved like lightning, driving the ball to her circle, while Izette Lubbe did a good job at centre before she had to leave the court with a wrist injury.
The Proteas maintained their lead throughout the match, and won every quarter. At halftime they were 22-16 ahead, and their best quarter was the third, which they won by 11 goals to eight.
It was sweet revenge for the Proteas, who lost to the Malawi Queens at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last year. Malawi are the top-ranked African team, at fifth in the world, while the Proteas are ranked sixth.
Plummer said she had seen an improvement in the Proteas’ performance since Tuesday, when they beat Zambia 63-38. ‘I told the girls they had to be prepared to stand up and be counted,’ she said.
’I said they had to withstand the pressure throughout the match, and put pressure back on Malawi. By halftime, they had Malawi wondering about their game plan.
‘There were some loose passes, where we lost the ball, and that was not good enough. But they sustained pressure for most of the match – there were times when they let it go, but then they came back again.’
However, Plummer said there was still a long way to go. ‘I’ve been with them for just five days. So much to do, so much to learn,’ she said.
‘Our first match at the World Cup is against Malawi. If all goes well, we should play them in the final on Friday night, so it’s a case of one down and two to go. But first we have to beat Uganda tomorrow night, and they are developing into a very good team. It’s four days of very tough netball.’
Plummer once again made changes after the second quarter. ‘I am not coaching seven players, I’m coaching 12,’ she said.
‘I have to know that the bench players can step onto the court at any time without the team missing a beat.’
In the other match, Uganda beat Zambia 59-36 to claim their first victory of the tournament. The world No14 side dominated the match from start to finish, extending their lead with every quarter. The Ugandan captain, goalshooter Peace Proscovia impressed once again with her accurate shooting.
She was ably supported by Rachael Nanyonga, who was named Player of the Match.
The Zambians fought hard throughout the match, but the Ugandan She Cranes proved too much for them. 
Zambia take on Malawi in the first match on Thursday. It will be followed by the match between South Africa and Uganda. Both matches will be live on SuperSport.

Picture of SA victory celebrations courtesy of Reg Caldecott


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