The SPAR Proteas maintained their unbeaten record in the SPAR Diamond Challenge on Friday by beating the President’s XII 59-34 at the Rembrandt Hall at the Tuks Sports Centre in Tshwane.
They came out guns blazing in what was expected to be their toughest match and were 17-7 ahead after the first quarter and 33-12 ahead at halftime. However, they appeared to run out of steam after the break and the young President’s team came back at them in the third quarter, losing the quarter by just one goal. The senior team started making a few errors and the younger team capitalised. The SPAR Proteas won the final quarter 13-10.
“The first half was excellent,” said coach Norma Plummer.
“Their defensive structures were there as we had planned and they worked at creating extra space to play. But this all changed after halftime – they slackened off and may have become a bit complacent. I took them outside for a talking to at the break and they were much better in the final quarter,” said Plummer.
“I was very impressed with the President’s XII. There are some excellent players and I was able to assess the depth of players available. I was particularly impressed with the wing defence, Thulisile Maduna.
“There will be injuries over the next few months, and it is good to see what talent is available to step up to the next level.”
Captain Bongi Msomi said the first half had gone according to plan, but the President’s XII had come back hard in the third quarter.
“I think the last quarter was better, after coach Norma spoke to us,” she said.
The SPAR Proteas will play Scotland in the final on Saturday afternoon.
Msomi said the Scottish Thistles played a similar style to the top teams and were quite physical.
“We certainly won’t under-estimate them. The match will give us the opportunity to implement what we’re working on. We want to finish strong tomorrow,” said Msomi.
Earlier, the Scottish Thistles drew 41-all with Zimbabwe in a hard-fought match, but squeaked into the final on goal average.
Coach Tamsin Greenway said her players had learnt a lot about themselves in a very tough game.
“At least we didn’t lose,” she said.
“We came here for a variety of reasons and I think we have achieved most of them.
“We need to learn how to win and how to attack. If you are going to win, you have to be fearless,” said Greenway.
Zimbabwe play the President’s XII at 2pm on Saturday and the final will be played at 4pm.
All the matches in the SPAR Diamond Challenge will be televised live on Supersport.
Tickets for the games will be available at the venue – R20 for adults and R10 for school going children.
Photo: Marcel Sigg