Expect action, goals galore, tumbles, sweat and tears - there may even be blood on the floor
“The Battle of the Flowers” – it sounds quite gentle and ladylike. But make no mistake, the battle between the SPAR Proteas and the England Roses in their SPAR Quad Series fixture at the Ellis Park Indoor Arena on January 28 will not be for sissies.
These are two of the world’s top netball teams and the rivalry between them is growing from match to match. The Roses used to regard playing the Proteas as an easy game, but they can no longer take victory for granted.
Both teams are working hard to narrow the gap with the two undisputed giants of world netball, Australia and New Zealand. South Africa has grown by leaps and bounds since former Australian coach Norma Plummer took charge of the Proteas. She has given the Proteas self-belief and their results prove it – the margin of defeat gets smaller every time the Proteas come up against the giants.
But it is the Roses who are the primary targets as the Proteas strive to improve their world ranking from five to the top three. South Africa sits on 141 ranking points (5th) and England 162 (3rd), a long way behind second-placed New Zealand (183) and top team Australia (212).
In January last year, there was heartbreak when the Proteas came within seconds of beating the Roses at the Quad Series tournament in Durban. After fighting back from an 11-goal deficit at half-time, the Proteas were level on 48-all at fulltime but the more experienced England team won the match 60-55 in extra time.
The Proteas got their revenge in the Quad series tournament at Invercargill, New Zealand when they beat the Roses 54-51 (their first ever Quad Series victory and first win against England since 2013).
The Roses will not take that lying down and will do all they can to win back the flower title.
Expect action, goals galore, tumbles, sweat and tears – there may even be blood on the floor.
The Proteas are calling on netball fans to turn out in their numbers at Ellis Park on that Sunday. The more support they have, the better they will play. And just as a tantalizing curtain-raiser, the giants of world netball – the Australian Diamonds and the New Zealand Silver Ferns – will also be battling it out.
SPAR Quad Series Schedule:
January 25 (7pm): SPAR Proteas vs New Zealand Silver Ferns
January 28 (12 noon): Australian Diamonds vs New Zealand Silver Ferns; (2.30pm) SPAR Proteas vs England Roses