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Coach Plummer prepares Proteas for Malawi play-off
- Updated: August 15, 2015
After a tough and extremely physical match, the SPAR Proteas qualified for the fifth place play off at the Netball World Cup in Sydney by beating continental rivals Uganda 50-40 on Saturday.
The Proteas shrugged off their loss at the hands of England on Friday and came out hard at Uganda from the start. The ‘She-Cranes’ have been improving throughout the tournament and made life difficult for the Proteas. At one stage, they scored several unanswered goals and went into the lead, but South Africa came back strongly and at the end of the quarter, were ahead by 13 goals to 11.
The second half followed much the same pattern, with both sides achieving turnovers and intercepts. Wing defence Bongi Msomi, who had an off-night against England, was back to her normal standard of play, and darted around the court like a gazelle, while Erin Burger frequently appeared to pluck the ball out of nowhere. South Africa once again won the quarter by two goals, to take a 24-20 lead at halftime.
Coach Norma Plummer replaced Msomi with the more physically robust Izette Lubbe after halftime. South Africa pulled away from Uganda, and at one stage, had a nine-goal advantage, before their opponents scored give unanswered goals in quick succession to reduce the margin to four goals. At the end of the quarter, which the Proteas won by 13 goals to 12, South Africa were ahead by 37-32.
In the final quarter, Precious Mthembu replaced Rochelle Lawson at wing attack, and South Africa were able to withstand repeated surges and turnovers by Uganda.
Goalshooter Lenise Potgieter had an outstanding game, succeeding with 36 goals from 38 attempts, including several that had the crowd gasping in admiration.
‘I had some nervous moments,’ Plummer admitted after the match.
‘They have improved throughout the tournament and we knew it was going to be a tough match. Uganda have a height disadvantage, but they make up for it with their physicality. They interrupt the flow of play, and that makes life difficult,’ she said.
‘We were a bit slow, and we need to speed it up. We’ll have to go back and cut it up and look at how we should deal with it, because it will be more of the same against Malawi tomorrow. Malawi have played extremely well at this tournament, and they are going to be very hard to beat.’
Malawi beat Wales 71-52. In 2011, the two African teams played each other for the same position, with South Africa emerging the winners.
‘We can do it,’ said captain Maryka Holtzhausen. ‘We want to defend our number five ranking and we also want to leave here as African champions.’
Picture of Burger and Uganda’s Ruth Meeme courtesy of Reg Caldecott