Proteas wilt against powerful Silver Ferns in second Test | SASCOC - SASCOC

Proteas wilt against powerful Silver Ferns in second Test

28.07.2015 Silver Ferns Laura Langman and South Africa's Precious Mthembu in action during the Silver Fern v South Africa netball test match played at Trusts Arena in Auckland. Mandatory Photo Credit ©Michael Bradley.

The SPAR Protea netball side went down 67-28 to the powerful New Zealand Silver Ferns in Auckland on Tuesday, their second defeat to the same side in the space of a few days.
That followed the 68-44 defeat on Sunday where South Africa had put up a good performance in holding the Kiwis to a 24-goal winning margin.
That slipped back to a 39-goal margin on Tuesday but Norma Plummer, the SPAR Protea coach, said that winning against New Zealand was never the priority.
The experience about playing the world’s second ranked side was far more important on the eve of the World Cup to be played in Sydney next month.
Experimentation was again the focus as the Proteas, like the Silver Ferns, used their final hit out before the World Cup to further assess various combinations during the second of two tests played at the Trusts Arena.
Just 10 days out from South Africa’s opening World Cup match against Malawi in Sydney, South Africa struggled against a dominating Silver Ferns outfit that gave their full 12-strong squad a run.
In the final quarter the SPAR Proteas were only able to score four goals which was of concern to Plummer. ‘I’m a little concerned about the fitness of my team. We have time to work on that and make sure that all the girls are in shape come Sydney.’
Plummer said that despite the score line she needed to expose the players and work the combinations against New Zealand. ‘After just three weeks of working with the girls I have learnt their likes and dislikes and told the Proteas going into tonight’s test they had nothing to lose’. She admitted that she and her charges learnt more from Tuesday’s test compared to the Sunday test in Hamilton. ‘We had a decent first half tonight but lacked the consistency which we will need to work on. The talent is there it just now needs to stand up.’
The Silver Ferns were a different outfit on Tuesday compared to Sunday where the Proteas had them worried, especially in the second quarter where the scores were equal. On Sunday Lenize Potgieter the star Under-21 South African shooter was on song and so much so that the Silver Ferns coach, Waimarama Taumaunu labelled Potgieter as ‘the secret weapon in the South African armoury.’
But on Tuesday the Silver Ferns were prepared for Potgieter who had in the first Test beaten the world’s top defender Casey Kopua. Potgieter’s sparkling performance in the first Test forced the Silver Ferns to double-team Potgieter (bring in two defenders) to deny Potgieter access to the ball. Plummer acknowledged the talent and strength of Potgieter to her side but said that South Africa could not rely only on Potgieter and had to make sure all the rest of the team, who showed so much talent, rose to the occasion.
New Zealand also put on a midcourt press using five defenders in the middle third which took away from the South African attacking space. But unfortunately the Proteas did not have the experience of being defended in that manner in a zone defence style despite getting through in patches.
Plummer believes the determination is in the Protea side but her girls are lacking the knowledge of how to compete in that type of zone. ‘We will get there. I reiterate I wish I could have worked longer with the SPAR Proteas but haven’t had the luxury of doing so but my coaching staff and I will put in every effort over the next few days to instil as much knowledge into the team so that they can improve to another level or two.’
Despite her side inflicting the heavy defeat on the Proteas, Taumaunu gave full praise to her opposition. ‘South Africa have made a significant improvement since we last played them in 2012. Their ball retention has vastly improved and they have a talented team, especially the goal shooter Lenize Potgieter. South Africa will be a force to reckon with in Sydney.’
The SPAR Proteas now remain in Auckland for an intensive training camp until they depart for Sydney on Monday.

In the picture, Precious Mthembu and Kiwi Shannon Francois fight for possession. Picture courtesy of Michael Bradley/Netball New Zealand