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.
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. (Courtesy citizen.co.za)