The Proteas managed to hold their nerve under pressure and took the game to Jamaica carving out a 9-5 lead during that period
The SPAR Proteas shocked group favourites Jamaica 55-52 at the Vitality Netball World Cup in Liverpool on Sunday to end at the top of their group.
Historically the Jamaicans have had the upper hand over the Proteas with the “Sunshine Girls” ranked second in the world and the South Africans three places below them at number five, so Sunday’s clash was always going to be a cracker of a game.
Both teams had started the competition on a high winning both of their opening two games, and on Sunday they went off at each other. The Proteas managed to hold their nerve under pressure and took the game to Jamaica carving out a 9-5 lead during that period.
The Proteas’ Goal Shooter Lenize Potgieter continued where she left off in the other two games and converted all her chances in the first quarter. The Jamaicans proved to be very physical opponents, and the Proteas gave as good as they got – a total of 14 penalties were committed in the first quarter. Eventually South Africa took a 16 -9 lead into the break at the end of the quarter.
The second quarter followed a similar trend to the first with both teams quick start off the mark. The Sunshine Girls looked determined to catch up with the South Africans. However, the Proteas’ agility and fast pace really proved to be problematic for the Jamaicans as the South Africans continued to dominate the second quarter.
SA captain Bongi Msomi was a livewire in the middle of the court as she managed to connect the bulk mof the passes for her team and allowed them to convert the bulk of their chances.
South Africa went into the half-time break leading 32 -21 after they managed to score 16 points per quarter leaving the Jamaicans lagging behind yet again.
For those who thought that the frenetic pace would slow down, the start of quarter three proved them wrong as well as both teams went off at each other. Eventually it was Jamaica that drew first blood scoring three quick goals in as many minutes.
South Africa quickly recovered and returned to the party and worked at retaining their lead. Jamaica didn’t hold back as they continued to fight and dominated the third quarter scoring 17 points to South Africa’s 10. At the end quarter three, the score stood at a slender 42-38 to South Africa.
The quick break at the end of the third quarter seemed to do wonders for Jamaica because the revived Sunshine Girls were relentless in their attack, cutting South Africa’s lead to just a point after five minutes of the resumption.
Karla Pretorius once again proved why she is regarded as the best Goal Defence in the world, she kept her team in the game by intercepting Jamaica’s important passes. If there was any doubt of the pace and intensity of the game it was dispelled when the ball deflated on the 10-minute mark of the last quarter.
The South Africans held on for the win, even though the Jamaicans narrowly outscored them 14-13 in the last quarter.
“I think we always knew that this would be an intense game,” said a jubilant SPAR Proteas head coach Norma Plummer. “We were expecting that on court and we got exactly that.
“I think the girls did very well and stepped up. We committed some mistakes which we will work on when we regroup as a team. (But) I am happy with a win against Jamaica, this is a great morale-booster for the team as we go onto the next round,” Plummer added.
At the time of going to press last night South Africa were playing Scotland in the preliminaries of stage two of the tournament.