Match day six of the 2023 Netball World Cup saw the SPAR Proteas take on Silver Ferns, this was a must win match for South Africa if they were to get a shot at the top four table. Both teams came into this match very high in confidence following their respective wins from their previous matches.
Considering what was at stake, the match was off to a cracker start with South Africa wanting to exert the most pressure right from the start. Coach Norma Plummer fielded what is probably her strongest starting seven thus far – the attacking duo of Nichole Taljaard and Ine Mari Venter seems to be just what SPAR Proteas needed, they gave the New Zealand’s defence a run for their money. Taljaard who won player of the match during South Africa’s last match seemed to carry on where she left off, while Venter had a bit of a slow start.
Karla Pretorius and Phumza Maweni at the back seemed to have rekindled and perfect their playing combo, they looked like they were having fun at the back.
At the end of the first quarter, only one point separated the two teams with Silver Ferns leading the quarter 11 – 10. In the second quarter, New Zealand pushed the South Africans to extend their lead and they achieved that by winning the quarter 15 – 11 taking the overall score to 26 – 21. Coach Plummer rested Ine Mari and replaced her with Elmere van der Berg.
Championship quarter saw the introduction of Khanyisa Chawane for South Africa in place of skipper Bongiwe Msomi. A few errors by South Africa seems to counter against them as they pushed to narrow the gap between themselves and New Zealand however as the quarter went on, they gained confidence and composure.
South Africa remained true to the course and pushed New Zealand as hard as they could to make sure that they narrow the gap between the two teams but most importantly win the championship quarter – SPAR Proteas took it 13 – 12 however it was still Silver Ferns on the driver’s seat with an overall score of 38 – 34.
Chawane had to replace by her captain due to injury in the last quarter. Both teams really understood what was at stake for them and the last quarter was testament to that. The SPAR Proteas fans chants and singing seemed to have been the fuel that the team needed. Their loud roars even got in the way of players hearing the umpires whistle and calls. South Africa pulled themselves hard to win the last quarter 14 – 10 and draw the match 48 all.
“Today really felt very good for us to step out there, the crowd was not what we had been prepared for – we knew what was at stake and understood what needed to be done. As a team we worked on what needed to be done against New Zealand both yesterday and today during training,” said SPAR Proteas Captain Bongiwe Msomi.
A very elated Norma Plummer touched on what worked for her charges today “We changed up our line up today and brought in new faces with different tactics, I think that was our trump card. I think the youngsters we brought on really stepped up and did the business for us on the day. I mean look at Nichole (Taljaard) who earned her second MVP in two games. You can see that we are onto something here, these girls are showing us – with good and consistent training, they will challenge top teams in the world”.
South Africa will take on Uganda in the last round of group stages matches on Thursday at 16:00 CAT.
Q1 – SPAR Proteas 10 – 11 New Zealand
Q2 – SPAR Proteas 11 – 15 New Zealand
Q3 – SPAR Proteas 13 – 12 New Zealand
Q4 – SPAR Proteas 14 – 10 New Zealand