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Proteas push Aussies the closest in 50 years

Proteas

The SPAR Proteas netball side proved they are becoming a force to be reckoned with in Canberra, Australia, on Wednesday when they put up their best performance against Australia in 50 years.

The Australian Diamonds won the SANZEA Quad Series match in Canberra 58-52, but the world champions were made to fight hard for their victory. At halftime, the two teams were level on 27-27.

South Africa had a shaky start, losing their first two centre passes, and after five minutes, were trailing the Diamonds 7-1.  But they pulled themselves together and clawed their way back into the match.  At the end of the quarter, Australia had a narrow 14-11 lead.

With wing attack Bongi Msomi and centre Erin Burger making a good job of getting the ball to the circle, South Africa dominated the second quarter, which they won 16-13.

Goalshooter Lenize Potgieter succeeded with 12 out of 13 attempts at goal, while goal attack Maryke Holtzhausen had a 100% success rate in that quarter.

South African defenders, Phumza Maweni and Karla Mostert, made life difficult for the Australian shooters and the Diamonds began to look a bit ragged. Midway through the quarter, the Proteas levelled the scores on 18-18 and then went into the lead. They had a two-goal advantage until the dying minutes of the quarter when the Diamonds drew level.

The Diamonds pulled away from the Proteas in the third quarter and by the end of it, were five goals ahead (44-39).  Fears that the South Africans would collapse in the final 15 minutes, allowing the Diamonds to pile on the goals, proved fruitless as the Proteas fought right until the end.

Although Australia were nine goals ahead at one stage, the Proteas showed patience and determination and brought the goal difference down to six – their best performance against Australia since 1967.

The last time the two teams met, earlier this year, Australia won by 16 goals, and in the 2015 World Cup Australia beat South Africa by more than 30 goals.

‘We’re very proud of what we achieved today,’ said captain Msomi.

‘We came here to perform and to do well as a team. We have now proved that we can compete with the best in the world, and we’re looking forward to our next match, against England, in New Zealand on Sunday.’

Earlier, the England Roses caused an upset when they beat World Cup silver medallists New Zealand 49-45 after trailing 26-23 at halftime.

Picture of the Proteas’ Bongiwe Msomi  looking for someone to pass to on Wednesday courtesy of Mark Nolan/Getty Images


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