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Proteas lose to Silver Ferns but take plenty out of defeat
- Updated: July 27, 2015
The SPAR netball Proteas may have lost against the New Zealand Silver Ferns on Sunday but they certainly impressed the netball world with their performance.
The world No2 ranked Silver Ferns survived a second-quarter stutter to account for South Africa 68-44 in the first of two Tests played at Claudelands Arena in Hamilton.
Not since 1999 had South Africa put up as close a fight against New Zealand. Sixteen years ago in a test played in Auckland, New Zealand beat South Africa 65-47 in the lead up to the World Championships played that year in Christchurch.
New Zealand started with the same intensity that featured in their 60-goal win over Fiji three days ago. The Silver Ferns blasted out to an early 8-1 lead, helped by two early turnovers but couldn’t maintain the pressure and allowed the world No6 Proteas to graft their way back.
Goal shoot Lenize Potgieter shouldered the attacking burden, sinking all nine of her attempts on goal as her mid-court worked overtime to break New Zealand’s tight defensive zone.
The Silver Ferns converted 16 of 21 attempts to give the Ferns a 16-9 lead at the first break.
But the wheels fell off in the second quarter. New Zealand’s mid-court struggled to create space, and their flow into the attacking third lacked rhythm and timing. The home team failed to find the circle edge, and their feed into goal shooter Bailey Mes and goal attack Jodi Brown grew fractured and erratic.
South Africa’s circle defenders Adele Niemand and Karla Mostert forced a series of turnovers and suddenly the Proteas had closed New Zealand’s lead to just one midway through the quarter.
A four-goal run right before halftime restored some respectability to the margin, but although New Zealand took a 31-24 lead into the break, honours had been shared 15-15 in the second quarter.
Silver Ferns coach Waimarama Taumaunu brought about new combinations at the half time break reintroducing Laura Langman to centre to open the attack which took a little time to settle. But by the end of the third quarter New Zealand had re-established midcourt dominance, winning the quarter 21-10 and building up a 52-34 lead.
The Kiwis delivered more of the same in the final 15 minutes and Langman was back to her very best in controlling the midcourt with precision as New Zealand won the spell 16-10 and the match by a comfortable 24 goals.
Taumaunu gave credit to the Proteas on their performance. ‘South Africa worked really hard tonight to keep the ball away from us. They shot well and quite honestly with us not playing their style of netball for a while we were rattled. Also we didn’t know the players in their defensive circle which took some getting used to.’
A delighted SPAR Proteas coach, Norma Plummer said she was proud of her team’s performance considering. ‘In the first quarter the girls were so nervous, they were watching the game and not really involved. It was a big moment for them. But in the second quarter they settled and put in an excellent effort. All in all I am really pleased with my girls.”
Plummer singled out the teams ‘youngster’ Izette Lubbe as one of the top performers saying her strength in particular was good. Plummer also gave credit to player of the match, Potgieter for her accuracy. ‘Lenize is such a great talent. At only 21 years of age, she adds such value to the team.’
“The goal defense (Karla Mostert) also did a good job and started to read the game well” added Plummer.
It’s only been weeks since Australian multiple World Championship winner Plummer has taken over the reigns as coach of the SPAR Proteas. ‘Although I am pretty pleased with the progress since working with the girls I must say there is a lot of work still to do. It’s been a terrific challenge and the Proteas are a wonderful group of girls.
‘The Proteas need to play at the top level to understand and experience the intensity. The game tonight was really not about the score line it was for the Proteas to gain from the experience of the Silver Ferns which will help them in their World Cup challenge in Sydney next month.”
Plummer said that by the time the team arrived in Sydney she aimed to have the team performing 10 to 15% better. The second Test is scheduled for Tuesday in Auckland.