Centurion, South Africa– Zimbabwe’s Rutendo Nyahora waited for the perfect time for her late surge and notched an impressive victory in the Pretoria SPAR Women’s Challenge 10km race in Centurion on Saturday.

Rutendo Nyahora crosses the line to win during the Spar Women’s 10km Challenge at SuperSport Park on August 29, 2015 in Centurion, South Africa.

Picture Credit: Reg Caldecott

The 26-year-old Nyahora overtook the strong-starting Phalula twins, Lebo and Lebogang, at the 7.5km mark and was not challenged again as she cruised to the finish line in a time of 34 minutes, 54 seconds.

“It all went according to plan and I’m so happy. I’ve been training at midday every day from the beginning of the month, so the heat did not affect me that much. I was struggling for the first two kilometres, but after that I enjoyed the race,” Nyahora said after her victory.

Lebo Phalula finished second in a time of 35:10, while Lebogang was third, a further 28 seconds back, but it wasn’t all bad news for the twins as Lebogang has earned enough points now to be virtually assured of the SPAR Grand Prix Series title.

The race started at 2pm with the temperature a warm 29 degrees and Lebo Phalula said the heat was not to her liking.
“It was too hot, I don’t run my best when it’s hot so I’m happy with my second position. It was a very challenging race for me, the hardest of the series, and I messed up the first kilometre,” she said.

Nolene Conrad (36:25), who only decided to run on Friday night after struggling with a calf injury, and Cherelee Schoeman (37:08) rounded out the top five.

The series now moves to Johannesburg on October 11 and Lebogang Phalula said she was determined to round off an excellent series for her with the overall title.

“I’m over the moon, I was aiming for a top three finish here, so I’m very happy. I congratulate Lebo and Rutendo, but they must watch out because I love running in Johannesburg and I’m very keen to defend my title there. This is my year,” Lebogang said while engaging in good-natured banter with the two runners who beat her on Saturday.


Gamalakhe, Margate- It was another day of mixed fortunes for Western Cape A1 at the SPAR National Netball Championships at the Ugu Sports Centre near Margate on Wednesday, but coach Marlene Wagner was not despondent about the results.
Western Cape A1 played three matches, easily beating Limpopo 42-15 in their early match, before going down to high-flying Gauteng, who beat them 30-19.

Lungile Mthembu of Gauteng in action against Western Cape A1 during day 3 of the SPAR National Netball Championship at Ugu Sports Centre on August 26, 2015 in Margate, South Africa.

Picture credits: Reg Caldecott

“It’s a work in progress with a young, developing team,” explained Wagner.
“We battled to get possession against Gauteng, and once we got possession, we lost it again. Our shooting was also not as accurate as it could have been and some of these youngsters are not quite ready, mentally, to take on some of these stronger teams.”
“But it is a building process and we are bringing in the youngsters under the new structure, where teams play for provinces rather than regions. Maybe in a year or two or three we will be at the top again,” she said.
Wagner said although players in her team were largely from Stellenbosch and Cape Town, they also came from as far afield as Mossel Bay and Oudtshoorn, which made training very difficult.
“We were also badly affected when Maties (Stellenbosch University) withdrew most of their players, because they want to save them for the Varsity Cup,” she said.
Wagner said many of the bigger provinces had similar problems, but the new format was in its early stages and improvements would almost certainly be made over the next few years.
In their final match of the day, they squeaked home against Western Province A2 26-25.
North West also played three matches on Wednesday, and maintained their unbeaten record, with victories over KwaZulu-Natal A1, (50-27), Northern Cape (55-16) and Mpumalanga (48-26). Gauteng also continued to do well, beating KwaZulu-Natal A2 62-18 and Western Cape A1, while Free State beat Eastern Cape 47-18 and Limpopo 37-20. Western Cape A2 also had a busy day, beating Mpumalanga 34-29 before losing to KwaZulu-Natal A1 (41-28) and Western Province A1. Eastern Cape beat KwaZulu-Natal A2 48-14, while KwaZulu-Natal A1 beat Northern Cape 37-29.
North West are on top of the log, with 16 points, followed by Free State and Gauteng with 14 each. Western Cape A1 are in fourth position, on 11 points. KwaZulu Natal A2 and Northern Cape have no points so far.


Gamalakhe, Margate- The SPAR National Netball Championships got under way at the Ugu Sports Centre near Margate on Monday.
The championships are being played according to a new format, with teams representing provinces rather than regions, and North West coach Dorette Badenhorst, was pleased with the way her team started, beating KwaZulu-Natal A2 49-13, and Gauteng 36-26.

Lentsa Motau of North West in action against Gauteng during day 1 of the SPAR National Netball Championship at Ugu Sports Centre on August 24, 2015 in Margate, South Africa.

Picture by: Reg Caldecott

“We had a good first day, and I was able to try out a lot of combinations,” she said.
“I’ve got a few players coming back from injury, and it’s important that we don’t push them too hard. It was Sigi Burger’s first day back from injury, and I think she went well. But Fifi (Kefiloe Tsotsetsi) also played well as goalshooter, and it’s lovely that we have players that we can use in different combinations.”

Badenhorst said she liked the new format, although she thought it might work better for some provinces than for others.
“It’s great having the provinces here, but it’s a big change for some of them. Some are much bigger than others, and they can draw players from a lot of clubs, but others might suffer because of the new format. It’s a great opportunity for players to experience playing in the A-section. I’ve got two players who normally play in the B-section, and they did very well today,” said Badenhorst.

She said some of the provinces would find it difficult to train as a team, because of the vast distances they had to travel.
“For instance, the Eastern Cape, it’s a long way between East London and Port Elizabeth, whereas for us, it’s not such a big distance. So the training is definitely a problem for some of the provinces, but I think we can work on this format.”

In other matches played on day one of the tournament, Free State beat KwaZulu-Natal A1 35-22 and Free State beat Northern Cape 44-11, Western Cape A1 beat Northern Cape 32-9, Gauteng beat Western Cape A2 45-12, and Eastern Cape beat Limpopo 36-26.


Sydney, Australia- The SPAR Proteas held their nerve to beat Malawi 48-46 in a hard-fought match in which the lead changed hands at regular intervals, in their fifth place playoff at the Netball World Cup in Sydney on Sunday.

The triumphant SPAR Protea team after the 5th and 6th place play-off match between South Africa and Malawi on day 10 of the Netball World Cup 2015 in Sydney, Australia.

Picture Credit: Reg Caldecott

The victory means South Africa retain their fifth place ranking in world netball, and are once again officially the top team in Africa.

The Proteas came out hard from the start, and at one stage, five successive unanswered goals gave them a lead of 8-4, but Malawi clawed their way back with their own series of goals spearheaded by star goal shooter Mwayi Kumwenda. They drew level at 8-all, and then when into the lead, winning the first quarter12-11.
In the second quarter, the teams once again exchanged goals, with first one team and then the other surging ahead, but in the middle five minutes, goal attack Maryka Holtzhausen and goalshooter Lenize Potgieter scored five quick goals to put South Africa into the lead again. They kept this slender lead until the end of the second half, with South Africa 23-21 ahead, with Holtzhausen scoring on the stroke of halftime.

Malawi won the third quarter by three goals, to edge ahead 36-35. Two goals from Potgieter at the start of the final quarter had the Proteas level with the Malawi Queens once again, and it became a case of which team was able to hold its nerve. Once again, a flurry of goals put South Africa back in the lead on 43-40 after eight minutes, and the Proteas retained their slender lead for the rest of the match.

Erin Burger and Karla Mostert were once again outstanding, while Potgieter looked like a veteran rather than a 21-year-old. Holtzhausen had a good game, and scored a number of her goals from the edge of the circle.

“I am glad that’s over,” said a smiling coach, Norma Plummer.
“I’m delighted for the team, and for South Africa, that they have come out African winners.”

She said she had taken over as coach at short notice, and had only about three weeks working with the team before the start of the World Cup, so she was very pleased with the improvement they had shown over the tournament and appreciated the way they had shown such “hunger” for her coaching advise and the way they implemented it throughout.
Holtzhausen said they had started the game well, but had let Malawi back into the match, and had to work hard throughout to win it.

“I think the difference between this match and the opening match, when we lost, is that we have improved throughout the tournament. In that opening match, it was a first World Cup for several of the girls, and I think the nerves got the better of us,” she said.

“But this time we worked according to our game plan, and things worked out for us.”
She said Plummer’s influence on the team had been immense.

“If she could do so much to improve us in a few weeks, imagine if we had her for four years,” she said.
“I think we could go right to the top.”

Deputy Minister of Sport, Gert Oosthuizen paid tribute to Plummer and the team and made a special trip to the locker room following the game to show his appreciation and support. “Each one of the SPAR Protea outfit can be proud of not only what they have achieved for themselves but for South Africa as a whole.”


Sydney, Australia- After a tough and very physical match, the SPAR Proteas qualified for the fifth place play off at the Netball World Cup in Sydney by beating Uganda 50-40 on Saturday.

Phumza Maweni of the SPAR Proteas defends against Peace Proscovia of Uganda on the 9th day of the Netball World Cup in Sydney, Australia.

Picture Credit: Reg Caldecott

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 the She-Cranes 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 goals to 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, winning the quarter by five goals.
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.”
South Africa play Malawi at 11 o’clock, local time. 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.”


Sydney, Australia- Deputy Sports and Recreation Minister Gert Oosthuizen flew into Sydney on Thursday with a message of support from the government for the SPAR Proteas ahead of their crucial Netball World Cup match against England on Friday.

Bongiwe Msomi, vice-captain of the SPAR Proteas thanks Gert Oosthuizen (Deputy Minister of Sport and Recreation) during a visit to the team at the Sydney Olympic Park prior to their match against England in the Netball World Cup on 13 August 2015.

Picture Credit: Reg Caldecott

South Africa have to beat England to qualify for the semifinals.
Speaking to the players at their hotel in Olympic Park, Oosthuizen said the country was behind them, particularly in Women’s Month.
“Social media is full of talk about the Netball World Cup and how our team is doing.
“I received a Tweet on Tuesday saying it would be nice if the Minister or Deputy Minister or the President arrived to support the team before their match against England. I’m answering that Tweet from Down Under,” he laughed.
“Netball is very important to us in the Department,” he said.
“The Minister pioneered the Brutal Fruit tournament and he is totally committed to the sport.”
Oosthuizen said he had travelled the world with the team, from the Cook Islands to Singapore, and various places in between, and he was impressed by the improvement in their standard of play.
“I am confident that we can win tomorrow.
“England is number three, we are number five, but to me that is just numerical,” he said.
He thanked Australian coach Norma Plummer for agreeing to coach the Proteas.
“You have made an important contribution to the sport,” he said.
“Your impact is evident in the way they have been playing.”
Earlier, the Proteas spent the day exploring Sydney, visiting the Opera House and Circular Quay, and travelling by ferry to the beautiful Manly Beach as they took a break from the tournament.


Sydney, Australia- “So near and yet so far,” sighed centre Erin Burger, after England beat the SPAR Proteas 62-46 in their last qualifying match at the Netball World Cup in Sydney on Friday.

Izette Lubbe of the SPAR Proteas and Serena Guthrie compete for the ball during the match between South Africa and England on day 8 of the Netball World Cup 2015 in Sydney.

Picture Credit: Reg Caldecott

South Africa looked a different team from the one that lost 66-31 to world champions Australia on Thursday. The Proteas came out fighting, and at one stage, were three goals ahead of England early in the first quarter. But England regained control and by the end of the quarter, were 16-8 ahead. The Proteas stuck to the game plan of short, sharp passes instead of the long looping passes they had resorted to against Australia and the tactic worked well, keeping them in the game.
In the second quarter, England outscored the Proteas by just three goals, and were 32-18 ahead at half time.
South Africa dominated in the third quarter, which they won 15-14. (46-36)
Coach Norma Plummer replaced wing attack Bongi Msomi with Izette Lubbe. Msomi, normally one of the stars of the team, had an off night, and lost a number of balls with poor passes, but Lubbe added stability to the team with her physical presence. Maryke Holtzhausen scored some audacious goals from near the edge of the circle and 21-year-old Lenise Potgieter continued to impress, scoring 35 goals from 38 attempts.
South African hopes were raised after the impressive third quarter, but the damage had been done in the first quarter, and although the Proteas fought hard to the end, they were unable to overcome the deficit.
Plummer said she was very proud of the team after their performances against the world number one and the world number three teams.
“They were very nervous the other day against Australia, but we got into it from the first whistle today,” she said.
“Bongi had a bit of an up-and-down game. I can’t put my finger on why, but it gave me the opportunity to put Izette out there. She did a marvelous job, because she was able to take physical knocks and she lifted the team. I think she made the difference in the third quarter.”
Plummer said she was very proud that South Africa has the highest number of intercepts in the tournament so far, with goal defence Karla Mostert the highest intercept taker.
“She’s an excellent player and I’m delighted to have had the opportunity to coach her,” she said.
South Africa finished third in their group and will play Uganda on Saturday, to determine who will play in the fifth place play-off on Sunday. If they win, they are likely to play Malawi, in a repeat of the last World Cup, where South Africa finished fifth.
“Uganda are not going to be easy, because they have been improving throughout the tournament,” said Plummer.
“Nevertheless, I believe we can beat them.”


Sydney, Australia- The SPAR Proteas have one last chance to qualify for the semifinals of the Netball World Cup in Sydney when they meet England in their final qualifying match on Friday afternoon.
South Africa have played two qualifying matches so far, beating Wales on Tuesday and losing to Australia on Wednesday. The Australian Diamonds booked their semifinal berth with victory over England and South Africa.
The Proteas froze at the start of their match against Australia, allowing the Diamonds to score 11 goals before they were able to get on the scoreboard, but they are expected to get off to a better start against the world number three team.
Coach Norma Plummer said preparations for the crucial match would be the same as for any other match.
“I will tell them they have nothing to lose, and just to focus on their own game,” she said.
“What happened against Australia was they were overwhelmed by the realisation that they were playing the world number one team, and they froze. They will be able to look at the videos of the match and see what they did right and what they did wrong. You learn more from defeats than from wins, and I don’t think they will make the same mistakes again.
“If we didn’t learn anything from the match against Australia, that would be sad. But we’ll cut it up and let them have a look at things and get them to smarten up.
“When you’re under pressure, especially when you haven’t been there before, it’s a bit hard. We’ve got a few players who are playing their first World Championship and probably the first time against Australia, so it is understandable. But I don’t think they will freeze again,” said Plummer.
“We have learned a lot from losing to Australia,” said captain Maryka Holtzhausen.
“One of the things were learned was that we can’t afford to play the overhead ball, because we lose it too often, so we will focus on short, sharp passes.
“We will try to focus on our game plan right from the start when we play against England, and will not fall back into our old ways.”
If they start the match against England as they ended against Australia, South Africa are in with a fighting chance of qualifying for the semifinals for the first time since 1995.
In the first half of their match against Australia, the Proteas battled to maintain possession, as the Diamonds easily intercepted their long, looping passes. By halftime, Australia were 26 goals ahead, but in the second half, South Africa reduced the margin to 10 goals, and in the final quarter, achieved more intercepts and turnovers than the Diamonds. In the final quarter, they held Australia to just 12 goals, scoring 10 of their own.
If they beat England, they go through to the semifinals.


Sydney, Australia- Nerves got the better of the SPAR Proteas on Wednesday night as the Australian Diamonds dominated them 66-31 in their qualifying match at the Netball World Cup in Sydney.

Lenize Potgieter of the SPAR Proteas in action during the match between South Africa and Australia on day 6 of the Netball World Cup 2015.

Bongiwe Msomi of the SPAR Proteas in action during the match between South Africa and Australia on day 6 of the Netball World Cup 2015.

Picture credits: Reg Caldecott

The Diamonds, who have won all 32 encounters between the teams, came out hard from the start, and were 11 goals up before the Proteas scored their first goal. The South Africans looked jittery and reverted3 to their old ways, with long, looping passes which the Diamonds intercepted with ease. At the end of the first quarter, Australia were 23-5 ahead.
Coach Norma Plummer made a few changes and the Proteas looked more settled in the second quarter, but the Diamonds continued to overwhelm them. The turnovers the South African defenders achieved were lost on their way into the Proteas’ circle, and the Diamonds had a 38-12 lead at halftime.
Plummer obviously had stern words with the team, because they were much better in the second half, going back to the short, sharp passes Plummer has been calling for. Australia won the quarter by 16 goals to nine. In the final quarter, the Proteas had more intercepts and turnovers than the Australians, and lost the quarter by only two goals (12-10).
“It was a bit disappointing, especially in the first half. A couple of the players just let the ball go into no man’s land. They weren’t even processing,” said Plummer.
“But that’s nerves. That’s being worried about playing the opposition, the number one team, and I thought that as we got further into the game, they played a little better.
She said her message to the players before the match had been that they had nothing to lose, so they could relax and take it up to them.
“You learn more from your defeats than from your wins,” she said.
However, Plummer said it was essential for some of the Proteas to play in the ANZ league, which is the best competition in the world, if they were to improve.
Captain Maryka Holtzhausen conceded that the players had lost focus in the early stages of the match.
“At halftime we decided that we just had to focus on playing the ball and play our own game and it worked better the moment we started getting the ball into the spaces,” she said.
“I think the biggest thing we’ll take out of this match is how much we still need to improve. I think there were some great passages of play, but sometimes our ball placement and giving the ball to the wrong person let us down. We saw in the first half that we can’t play the overhead ball, because it went out of court numerous times. We need to start playing the short ball into the circle.”
South Africa have the day off on Thursday before meeting England on Friday afternoon. They have to beat England to qualify for the semifinals.


Sydney, Australia- The SPAR Proteas had a good confidence-boosting victory over Wales in their first match in the second round of the Netball World Cup in Sydney on Tuesday, beating the Welsh team by 60 goals to 38.

Bongiwe Msomi of South Africa in action during the match between the SPAR Proteas and Wales on day 5 of the Netball World Cup 2015.

Erin Burger of South Africa and Kyra Jones compete for the ball during the match between the SPAR Proteas and Wales on day 5 of the Netball World Cup 2015.

Pictures Credit: Reg Caldecott

Wales had sailed through the opening round, winning all three of their matches, but South Africa proved too much for them, as they were never really in contention. Goalkeeper Lenize Potgieter was on song, particularly in the first quarter, when she succeeded with every attempt at goal. At the end of the first quarter, the Proteas were 15-10 ahead. By halftime, South Africa had stretched their lead to the critical margin of 10 goals, with the score on 31-21.
Coach Norma Plummer appeared to have had stern words with the players during the break, because they stormed back in the third quarter, outscoring Wales by 24 goals to eight. It was probably their best quarter of the tournament so far, with South Africa achieving five intercepts and five turnovers. Once again, coach Norma Plummer rang the changes, bringing on fresh legs and making sure that most of her players got precious time on court ahead of matches against Australia and England.
The final quarter was more subdued, as Wales battled hard to make up the deficit. It was the closest quarter, with South Africa scoring just two more goals than Wales.
Plummer seemed relatively pleased with the team’s performance.
“I thought they were a bit lethargic at the beginning. I told them after their warm-up that they were too relaxed, and they had to step up, because we are now at the business end of the carnival,” she said.
“I was a bit disappointed in the first half, when they were a little flat, but I made some changes at halftime, and brought some new life into their movement.”
Wing attack Bongi Msomi said the match had been a confidence booster.
“It was about sticking to the game plan, and implement the strategies that have been worked out,” she said.
“We were able to do that today. We expected them to come hard at us, especially after the game they played yesterday (when Wales narrowly beat Uganda 49-47 in their final preliminary round match). I think they were confident, but we put the tactics we’ve worked on into practice. We needed this win before we play Australia.”
South Africa play defending champions Australia on Wednesday and world number three England on Friday. The Proteas need to win one of these matches to qualify for the semifinals.


Sydney, Australia- South Africa take on their toughest opponents yet in the Netball World Cup in Sydney on Wednesday, when they meet defending champions in their second qualifying round match.
The SPAR Proteas know they have a tough task ahead, but they are all excited about playing the world number one team. Australia lost their preliminary round match to New Zealand on Sunday, going down 52-47.
Captain Maryke Holtzhausen said this gave South Africa confidence going into the match.
“We now know they are human and they can be beaten,” she said.
“We also know that it is going to be a very tough match, but we are looking forward to putting into practice what we have learned from our coach.”
The Proteas coach, Norma Plummer, was the Australian Diamonds’ coach when they won the previous World Cup in Singapore in 2011.
“Norma knows them well, and that could help us,” said Holtzhausen.
Plummer said she was not making any promises or predictions, but she said it was important for the Proteas to test themselves against the best.
“This is the business end of the tournament, and the girls know they have to step up a gear. We have some outstanding players – (goalshooter) Lenize Potgieter is fantastic, particularly considering she is only 21, and players like Erin Burger and Bongi Msomi are outstanding.”
She said it was important for South Africa to play against the best.
“It’s about them learning by playing against that quality, and it’s a quality they don’t come up against every day. Win or lose, they will learn a lot.”
“We definitely want a good contest and show the world that the Proteas can compete with the best,” said defender Adele Niemand.
“Australia are on their home ground and they’re the number one in the world, but we just need to apply what we’ve learned.”
“We’ve got nothing to lose,” said Msomi.
“We’re going to go hard and do our best against them and see if we can pull it through,” she said.
The match will be played at 8.20 in the evening, and organisers expect the 30-thousand seat Allphones Stadium to be sold out, so the Proteas will be playing in front of one of the biggest crowds they have ever experienced.
South Africa have to beat Australia on Wednesday or England on Friday to qualify for the semifinals on Sunday.


Sydney, Australia- The SPAR Proteas crushed Sri Lanka 89-17 in their final first round match at the Netball World Cup in Sydney on Monday. They finished second in Pool C, behind Malawi.

Erin Burger of SPAR Proteas (L) and Deepika Abeykoon compete for the ball during the match between South Africa and Sri Lanka on day 4 of Netball World Cup 2015 at Allphones Arena on August 10, 2015 in Sydney, Australia.

Adele Niemand of SPAR Proteas and Thishala Algama compete for the ball during the match between South Africa and Sri Lanka on day 4 of Netball World Cup 2015 at Allphones Arena on August 10, 2015 in Sydney, Australia.

Picture Credits: Reg Caldecott

Coach Norma Plummer used the opportunity of playing one of the weaker teams to ensure that all 12 players had time on court, with Lindie Lombard making her first appearance in the tournament, playing at goal attack.
It was five minutes before Sri Lanka were able to score, and by the end of the first quarter, South Africa were leading 25-7. In the second quarter, Sri Lanka were able to stem the flow of goals to a certain extent, but they scored only five goals to 16 for the Proteas. At halftime, South Africa had an unassailable 41-12 lead. Things just got worse for the islanders as the match continued – they scored four goals in the third quarter, and just one in in the last, while South Africa scored 24 in each.
Elsje du Plessis achieved 100 per cent accuracy, with 11 goals from 11 attempts, while Lenize Potgieter had a nearly clean sheet, with 43 goals from 46.
Plummer said although the outcome had been expected, she was pleased with the way the team had executed their game plans.
“I wanted to play them all, and to try out various combinations in a match like this, before we get to the business end of the competition,” she said.
She said she would obviously have preferred to play Sri Lanka or Singapore before Malawi, to give her players some confidence ahead of their most difficult first round match.
“Malawi have been together for several years, and we have a number of new players in the team. But you have to play with the cards you are dealt, and do the best you can.
“The players will go into the next round with renewed energy,” she said.
“I think it was a great game, and it’s always nice to get all 12 players on the court,” said captain Maryke Holtzhausen.
“Our biggest challenge was not to get into a set pattern, because we always tend to go back to the long ball, but we executed our game plan of short sharp passes into the circle quite well.”
South Africa will come up against the Australian Diamonds in one of their second round matches. New Zealand beat the defending champions 52-47 in their round robin match on Sunday and Holtzhausen said this was good news for others in the competition.
“We can see now that are beatable,” she said.
“We just need to stick to our game plans. We very excited about the qualification round, where we will play some of the best teams in the world.”
South Africa will play Australia, England and the winner of the match between Uganda and Wales in the qualification round, which starts on Tuesday.


Sydney, Australia- The SPAR Proteas bounced back from their loss to Malawi on Friday with a crushing 69-21 victory over Singapore at the Netball World Cup in Olympic Park in Sydney on Saturday.

Lenize Potgieter of SPAR Proteas aims for a Goal against Singapore.

The flexible Precious Mthembu of SPAR Proteas catches the ball in the air.

Picture credits: Reg Caldecott

The match was played at the Netball Central Arena rather than the much bigger Allphones Arena, and the players appeared to respond well to the more intimate setting.
Coach Norma Plummer gave players who were not involved in the first match a run, with Rochelle Lawson replacing Karla Mostert at goal defence, Elsje du Plessis replacing Maryke Holtzhausen at goal attack, and Izette Lubbe coming in for Erin Burger at centre.
“You can run your top seven and run them into the ground, or you can use your bench in the early stages and then you’ve got fresh legs when it really counts,” she said.
“As far as I’m concerned, that’s the smart way to go.”
South Africa started slowly, but gathered momentum as the match continued. By the end of the first quarter, they were 15-8 ahead. Lawson and goalkeeper Phumza Maweni did a good job in defence, preventing Singapore from scoring, and making good use of rebounds. Du Plessis appeared nervous at first, and missed a number of shots at goal, but she improved as the game wore on. At halftime, South Africa led 32-13s and it became clear that they had the match well under control.
Singapore scored just six goals in the third quarter, and in the final quarter, when Plummer brought on her first choice players, the Proteas closed Singapore down completely, and they were only able to net two goals. South Africa showed remarkable consistency in scoring, with 18 goals each in the last three quarters.
Plummer experimented with positional changes, putting Mostert into wing defence instead of her normal goal defence, and then later playing Lawson at wing defence.
“I always think the two positions are part of the same thing,” said Lawson.
“I was happy to play there and let the coach see what I could do.”
Lawson, was one of several players making her World Cup debut in the match, said she was thrilled to have had some time on court.
“This is what you dream about, playing in a World Cup,” she said.
“I’m so happy that I got my chance.”
Plummer said she was happy with the team’s performance.
“We worked on some things this morning, and they put them into practice tonight,” she said.
The two coaches, Plummer and Singapore’s Ruth Aitken, are old rivals – their last World Cup encounter was the final of the 2011 championships in Singapore, with Plummer coaching Australia and Aitken New Zealand. Australia beat New Zealand in the final.
South Africa’s final round robin match is on Monday, when they take on Sri Lanka.


After more than 15 years competing on the international tennis tour, South African Chani Scheepers has confirmed her retirement.

Chani Scheepers

Picture credit: Tennis South Africa

“I’ve decided to officially retire from playing professional tennis. It’s been an honor to represent South Africa around the world, and I’m proud of all I’ve achieved throughout my career. I’ve had some amazing experiences and will have great memories of my time on tour. Some of the highlights I’ll remember are winning my first WTA singles title in Guangzhou, reaching the doubles semifinals at Wimbledon, and helping the South African team earn promotion in Fed Cup. I’m looking forward to starting the next chapter now, and will still be travelling a limited schedule on tour coaching Alison Riske, which is an exciting new challenge for me. A big thank you to everyone who has supported and encouraged me throughout my playing career…it wouldn’t have been the same wonderful experience without you!”

Born in Harrismith, Free State, 31 year old Scheepers turned professional in 2000. Scheepers reached a career high singles ranking of 37 (October 2011) and doubles ranking of 42 (April 2014). Scheepers has won one singles (Guangzhou 2011) and one doubles title (Strasbourg 2013) on the WTA tour, as well as twelve singles and twenty doubles titles on the ITF tour during her career. Scheepers also was also a four times WTA doubles runner up during her career.

Earl Grainger, South African Fed Cup captain said Scheepers “epitomised the word professionalism”. “ Chani had a great career and will be sorely missed. I would like to thank Chani for being part of the Fed Cup team that got promoted to World Group 1. Chani was such an inspiration not only to myself but to the whole team and the whole of South Africa. I wish Chani all the best with the road ahead”.

Tennis South Africa President, Gavin Crookes said that Scheepers played a huge part in the promotion and development of the game in South Africa throughout her career. “heroes are important and Chani was certainly one of them, a player who impressed with her professionalism and work ethic and total commitment to being the best player possible. We salute you Chani and wish you well in your retirement.”


Sydney, Australia- Just days after leapfrogging Malawi into fifth place on the world rankings, the SPAR South African netball team went down 58-51 to the Malawi Queens in their opening match at the Netball World Cup at Olympic Park in Sydney on Friday. The match was billed as an opening day blockbuster and the tightly fought contest didn’t disappoint.


Picture by: Reg Caldecott

Malawi dominated the match from the start, when they turned over the Proteas’ opening centre pass to score the first goal. The Proteas appeared tentative in the early stages of the match, and Malawi took advantage.
Malawi goalshooter Mwayi Kumwende, who has been out of the team for some time, celebrated her return to the side with an outstanding match. She missed only three attempts out of 43, and the South African defenders Karla Mostert and Adele Niemand had their work cut out for them.
At the end of the first quarter, Malawi were two goals ahead, and they extended this to a five goal advantage by halftime, leading South Africa 27-22.
The Proteas came out with all guns blazing in the third quarter, which was the only one they won, outscoring Malawi by 15 goals to 14. They drew level with the Queens midway through the quarter, but Malawi pulled away again, and finished it 41-37 ahead.
The Proteas fought hard throughout the match, achieving a number of turnovers, but too often their hard work went unrewarded, as they lost the ball and the momentum again. The minutes ticked by, and the South Africans ran out of time to make up the deficit.
“We gave it away a lot with out feeds around the circle,” said coach Norma Plummer.
“We had opportunities and we didn’t take them. I would say we let ourselves down.
“But there were some positives. Phumza (Maweni) came on (as goalkeeper) and she had a good game against one of the best shooters in the world. Considering she has only played netball for two years, she was outstanding.”
“We wanted a better start to the World Cup,” said centre Erin Burger, who is playing in her third World Cup.
“But we had some good moments, and we will take them through to our next match. We need more consistency, and we must not fall back into old habits.
“We are disappointed and a bit frustrated after losing this match, but it will be heads up tomorrow when we play our next match. We’re not going to let this defeat stop us.”
On Saturday, South Africa will take on Singapore in their second match at 17h20 local time (09h20 South African time live on SuperSport). SPAR Proteas Australian coach Norma Plummer will come up against her former former Silver Ferns rival Ruth Aitken. Plummer lead her Australian team to gold over Aitkens New Zealand in the last World Cup final in Singapore in 2011.
“Ruth has done some good work in improving Singapore since she took charge but she has been working on the basics rather than the advanced tactical issues. It going to be good going head to head with Ruth after all these years in very different circumstances” said Plummer.


Sydney, Australia- The SPAR Proteas received a special message before the start of their Netball World Cup campaign in Sydney on Friday.
“Although we play different sports, we share the same pride in representing our country,” said Springbok captain Jean de Villiers, in a message recorded at the Springbok camp in Durban.
“We wish you every success at the World Cup, and we know you are going to do South Africa proud,” he said.
“Do your best, and be great ambassadors for our country. Above all, have fun and enjoy the experience.”
“It was so cool to get the message,” said World Cup debutant, goal defence Karla Mostert.
“He is such a great, humble guy. We were surprised but thrilled to get the message.”
Unfortunately, the message from the Springbok captain was not enough to inspire the Proteas to victory – they lost their opening match to Malawi by 58 goals to 51.
But like every South African team “a loss will only inspire you to work harder and fight for victory” said SPAR Proteas Captain, Maryka Holtzhausen. “We may have lost to Malawi but we will fight harder in our next games to make South Africa proud.
The message from Jean was played to us ahead of the World Cup and it was so welcome and appreciated” added Holtzhausen.


Sydney, Australia- “I can’t wait to get this tournament under way,” said SPAR Proteas Netball coach Norma Plummer on the eve of the opening of the Netball World Cup in Sydney on Thursday.

Left: Bongiwe Msomi (SPAR Proteas Vice-Captain), Middle: Norma Plummer (SPAR Proteas Coach) and Right: Maryka Holtzhausen (SPAR Proteas Captain)

Picture by: Reg Caldecott

The Proteas get their World Cup campaign under way on Friday afternoon with a match against their eternal rivals, Malawi.
Plummer, who was appointed to coach South Africa during the Diamond Challenge in Margate in June, said she would obviously have liked to have had four years with the Proteas, instead of barely three weeks, but she believed she could make a difference in the short time available to her.
“They are very intelligent players, and they are picking things up well. We have been focussing on skills and court strategies. Generally, we have been working on balance on the court, and on realising there is always more than one option. It is also about space awareness and court and on realising the ball has to be passed well and with purpose,” said Plummer.
“We played two Tests against New Zealand, and although the Silver Ferns won both Tests, we were able to reduce their margin of victory. I was happy to play the second ranked team in the world, because I wanted to put the players under pressure and raise the intensity. It is more valuable to play and lose against a team like New Zealand than to beat a weaker team,” she said.
South Africa beat Malawi convincingly in their two encounters in the Diamond Challenge, but Plummer said she knew Malawi would come back hard against the Proteas in their opening match.
“They have made peace with some of the players who withdrew from the team, and it will be a tougher team to beat. Malawi will want to go up another gear tomorrow.
“But we’ve had time together, and we can go out feeling confident,” said Plummer.
Proteas captain Maryke Holtzhausen said the team was excited about starting their World Cup campaign.
“We know Malawi is going to come at us very hard, and that it will be a very physical match, but we are ready for them,” she said.
“We have taken a lot of positives from our Tests against New Zealand, and we have learnt a lot from coach Norma, whose passion for netball and for success is there for everyone to see.”

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