DIAMONDS BEAT PROTEAS 62-46

Durban, South Africa - The SPAR Proteas fought gallantly against the Australian Diamonds in their Quad Series match in Durban on Tuesday. Although the visitors beat them 62-46, it was the Proteas’ narrowest margin of defeat ever against the world champions.
The South Africans did not start well, and it was only in the fifth minute that they were able to score. Goal attack Vanes-Mari du Toit, playing for the Proteas for the first time since 2013, looked nervous and rusty, and muffed several shots at goal. Coach Norma Plummer took her off at the end of the first quarter, when Australia were leading by 17 goals to nine.
Lindie Lombard, who had such an impact on the match against England on Saturday, once again influenced proceedings when she came on for Du Toit. Plummer also brought veteran player Precious Mthembu on for Juline Rossouw at wing defence. Goal attack Karla Mostert has to leave the court because of a blood injury, and her presence was missed in the second and third quarters. By halftime, Australia had increased their lead to 11 goals (31-20) and it appeared the Diamonds might run away with the match.
In the third quarter, the Proteas seemed to lose focus and the Diamonds stretched their lead to 45-30, but in the final quarter, with Mostert back in action, the Proteas came back strongly, losing the quarter by just one goal, despite goalkeeper Phumza Maweni being sent off for two minutes, leaving Mostert alone in the circle.
Centre Erin Burger had an outstanding match, and was well supported by Mthembu and captain and wing attack Bongi Msomi.
Plummer said she was “quietly pleased” with the outcome of the match.
“We used to lose to Australia by more than 50 goals, and we got it down to 16,” she said.
“We’re in there – we just have to learn to be more consistent. There is still a lot of work to be done. We turned over some balls but there were times when we lost the ball in the circle, so there was no benefit from the turnovers.”
She said Du Toit was a very skilled player, but she had been out of netball for some time with an injury.
“I wanted to see how she played, because I want to see the depth of the players around the starting seven,” said Plummer.
She said it was important for the players to develop more muscle and power if they were to compete at the top level.
Australian coach Lisa Alexander said South Africa were closing in on the top teams.
“They need more control over their bodies, and they have to increase their mental toughness and resilience,” she said.
“But they are pushing the top teams. However, Australia, New Zealand and England are all fully professional, whereas the South Africans are amateurs.”
The Proteas leave for the United Kingdom on Wednesday for the final leg of the quad series. They will play New Zealand in London on Saturday night.


AUSTRALIA A TOUGH PROSPECT FOR SPAR PROTEAS

Durban, South Africa - After a day of relaxation following their thrilling match against England on Saturday, the SPAR Proteas were hard at work on Monday preparing for their Quad Series match against world champions Australia on Tuesday night.
Fifth-ranked South Africa forced third-ranked England into extra time, drawing 48-all at fulltime. The more experienced England Roses won the match by 60 goals to 55, but the Proteas could hold their heads high after storming back from an eleven-goal deficit at halftime.
Head coach Norma Plummer said they had watched video footage of the match and analysed where they had gone wrong and what they needed to work on.
“Our start wasn’t good and we weren’t on the money on the shots. We were letting ourselves down and we weren’t converting, so those are two of the areas we will work on,” said Plummer.
She said she would not necessarily have the same starting line-up for the match against Australia.
“I’m running the third end players at the moment,” she said.
“I still have some options I want to look at. The Commonwealth Games are next year, not this year, and I want to make sure by the time we get to the Commonwealth Games we’ve picked the right blend and have all the options in the players we select.”
Assistant coach Jenny van Dyk said there was a vast difference between England and Australia.
“The Aussies have been at the forefront of netball for quite a while and the amount of match opportunities they have is really what sets them apart,” said Van Dyk.
“We will spend time this afternoon planning our strategy for the Australian match, and working on our own game plan.”
“As much as we did well against England, tomorrow is going to be much tougher said assistant coach Dumisane Chauke.
“We’ve been playing more with the top three in the world, and the more we play them, the better we’ll get. We’ll be focussing on what we can do as a team and keeping the South African flair will do wonders for us.
“We’re probably going to focus on the goal circle players and getting the feeds into the circle. Playing the triangle and forcing our goalshooters not to move around so much, but to play to their strengths. Lenise Potgieter is the standing, holding shooter and we’ll be focussing on that in preparation for tomorrow’s game,” said Chauke.
The match will be played at the Durban International Convention Centre at 7 o’clock on Tuesday night. The Proteas set off almost immediately after that for the United Kingdom, where the fourth and final leg of the SANZEA Quad Series will be played.


SOUTH AFRICA DRAW WITH ENGLAND, BUT LOSE IN EXTRA TIME

Durban, South Africa - There was heartbreak for South Africa in their SANZEA Quad Series netball match against England at the Durban ICC Arena on Saturday.
After fighting back from a 11-goal deficit at halftime, the SPAR Proteas were level on 48-all at fulltime but the more experienced England team won the match 60-55 in extra time.
It was South Africa’s best performance against a top three team since 2013, when they beat a second-strong England team.
The SPAR Proteas started strongly, taking the early lead, and it took England 10 minutes to draw level on 7-all. They ended the first quarter 11-8 ahead, and by halftime they led by 28 goals to 17.
Shortly after the start of the second quarter, Proteas coach Norma Plummer brought Izette Lubbe on for Bongi Msomi at wing attack, and she replaced Renske Stoltz with Lindie Lombard at goal attack in the third quarter. Lombard, who has been plagued with injuries, and has been in and out of the squad, brought new energy to the South Africans, who scored eight goals to one in the first four minutes. Boosted by the vociferous support of the crowd, the Proteas won the quarter by 17 goals to 11 and in the fifth minute of the final quarter, they drew level at 40-all. From then on, the lead changed hands minute by minute. Just before fulltime, South Africa scored but the umpire ruled that centre Erin Burger’s knee had been over the line, and disallowed the goal.
Plummer was delighted with the team’s performance and said it was a sign of how far they had come.
“I thought they were outstanding,” she said.
“That 11-goal turnaround – you don’t often get that. We did actually have the game and then the umpire decided Erin’s knee was over the line. But it’s the first time they have taken a top three team into overtime, so you have to admire what they did.
“Lindie came on and she played a blinder. She brought us back into the whole match.”
Plummer said Australia would be another step up for the team, but South Africa had nothing to lose.
“We don’t want to play teams below us, we want to challenge the top teams,” she said.
England coach Tracey Neville said South Africa came out as hard in the third quarter as they had in the first.
“We weren’t expecting that, and I think we were too casual. We gave cheap ball away and we stopped driving, and you get crucified by any team when you do that,” said Neville.
“I think their two tactical changes were crucial. We didn’t adapt to that well. The wing attack helped get the ball into the top of their circle, and Lombard offered (goalshooter) Lenise Potgieter more opportunities.”
Earlier, the Australian Diamonds proved once again why they are number one in the world with a clinical 57-50 victory over the New Zealand Ferns in the opening match.
Australia stamped their authority from the start, and it was only in the fifth minute that New Zealand were able to score their first goal. The Diamonds led 16-10 after the third quarter and 30-23 at halftime. With some outstanding shooting by Bailey Mes and the charismatic Maria Tutaia, New Zealand were able to reduce the deficit to three goals, but each time they did so, Australia came back to stretch the goal deficit again. Australia won the third quarter 15-14, but with the crowd behind them, cheering every goal, New Zealand won the last quarter 13-12. Once again, New Zealand came within three goals of Australia, but each time they did so, Australia counter-attacked and surged ahead again.
Goal attack Susan Pettitt, making her first appearance for Australia in three and a half years, slotted seamlessly back into the team and was named player of the match for her performance.
“I am so happy to be back,” she said.
“I have been working very hard and it felt really good to be on court for Australia again. I think we are doing well because we have confidence in one another.”
Australian coach Lisa Alexander said she was disappointed that they had lost the final quarter.
“We set ourselves targets and one of these is to win all four quarters. So we still have plenty to work on. But I am thrilled that we executed our plans so well against top quality opposition.”
Captain Sharni Layton said the vocal support for New Zealand had affected the Diamonds in the final quarter.
“We enjoyed the hype, but we know that it is going to be even more when we play South Africa on Tuesday. We know we will have to concentrate on our own game and not get caught up in the hype.”


DURBAN WELCOMES THE WORLD’S BEST NETBALL PLAYERS

Durban, South Africa - The city of eThekwini has rolled out the red carpet for the world’s best netball players, who will be taking part in the third leg of the SANZEA Quad Series, featuring Australia, New Zealand, England and South Africa.
Welcoming the players at a function in the Durban International Convention Centre, Councillor Mxolisi Mzimbovu said the Quad Series was good for the city, and good for netball.
“We have top of the range infra-structure here, and Durban is the warmest city in South Africa,” he said.
“The eThekwini Metropolitan Council supports netball at community level, and we are delighted to welcome the best netballers in the world to our beautiful city. I am sure that seeing these players in action will inspire the young players in Durban to great heights.”
Netball South Africa (NSA) President Mimi Mthethwa said it was a dream come true to welcome the top three teams in the world.
“Our drawcard is the opening match between the Australian Diamonds and the New Zealand Silver Ferns on Saturday afternoon. These two teams have dominated world netball for many years, and the rivalry is intense. I hope people will turn out in their numbers to watch this mouth-watering match and then stay on to see the SPAR Proteas in action against the England Roses,” said Mthethwa.
“This is just the beginning. Perhaps one day we will be in the top three.”
England coach Tracey Neville said she and her team had been overwhelmed by the hospitality in Durban.
“We are loving our time here, and we are making the most of our time in this lovely city. I am sorry that I can’t promise the same weather when the Quad Series moves to England next month,” she said.
“The welcome we received at King Shaka Airport was amazing, and moved us to tears of joy,” said Australian coach Lisa Alexander.
“We are excited to be here, and we look forward to the match against the Silver Ferns on Saturday, and to playing the SPAR Proteas on Tuesday.”
Proteas captain Bongi Msomi said she was thrilled to be playing the best teams in the world at home.
“It is a privilege to play these teams, and just watch us on court. You will see how happy we are by the way we play.”

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