It almost seemed like lightning had struck twice in one place when SPAR Proteas took on the Sunshine Girls on match day three of the 2023 Netball World Cup – a case of déjà vu all over the again.
The last time the two met at a Netball World Cup was exactly four years ago at the very same stage of the game – South Africa came up on tops during that match.
This game was always going to be a tough one for both teams who are ranked 4th and 5th respectively. Both teams came into this game very high in confidence after securing two wins each before today. The match was evenly contested for 12 minutes however it was the Sunshine Girls who started pulling away in the last minutes winning the first quarter 16 – 12.
SPAR Proteas Head Coach Norma Plummer addressed the biggest asked question of the tournament on whether Lenize Potgieter is fit enough to play or not seeing that she hadn’t played over the past two games – Potgieter was paired with Elmere van der Berg upfront, Lenize rewarded the coach for giving her the nod by scoring 9 out 9 chances she got in the first quarter.
Sunshine Girls pulled punches in the second quarter with Jhaniele Fowler asking too many questions to Phumza Maweni with no answers at all. Jamaica were eight points clear halfway through the quarter and Plummer introduced Nichole Taljaard for van der Berg who was struggling a bit and averaging 50% at the time. The combination between Taljaard and Potgieter seems to be just what South Africa needed – Jamaica took the quarter 16 – 14 and overall score 32 – 26.
Coach Plummer made changes in the third quarter substituting Jeante Strydom and moving Pretorius to Wing Defence and introducing Nicola Smith at Goal Defence – Izette Griesel came in for captain Bongi Msomi. Champion quarter weas a one-sided affair with Jamaica restricting South Africa to scoring only three goals and them dumping 20 in reply.
A wholesome change in the last quarter for South Africa with Ine Mari Venter replacing Potgieter and Shadine van der Merwe in for Khanyisa Chawane. South Africa played a better quarter however it was a case of too little too late – they went as far as winning that quarter 20 15, however it was the Sunshine Girls that claimed the win 67 – 49.
“We went into this match knowing that it was going to be a tough game, I mean seven of their players are playing in the Super League, that showed today. Our players did well, we had a few mistakes that cost us dearly, but I think these are things we can work on. No one wants to lose but there are lessons we are taking out of this – the journey doesn’t stop here, we have a few more games to go and anything can happen from here onwards,” said Norma Plummer, SPAR Proteas Head Coach.
Following today’s loss, South Africa will play against Trinidad & Tobago in Group G clash at 18:00 on Monday 31st July 2023. Their two other clashes will be against current World Champions New Zealand and fellow Africans Uganda.
Plummer concluded by saying “we will need to be better prepared for our remaining fixtures if we are to go all the way, we are not naïve to assume or think that it will be any easier – we must take the lessons, apply them and see what happens from there.”