The South Africans take on the England Roses in Melbourne on Sunday, in their last match of the current Quad Series
The SPAR Proteas had an awful start to their match against the New Zealand Silver Ferns in their Sanzea Quad Series netball match in Tauranga yesterday when they were soundly beaten 61-37.
Although the Proteas were first on the board, it was 10 minutes before they were able to score their second goal, while New Zealand netted 11 unanswered goals.
The South Africans battled to get the ball into their circle and even when they did, luck was not on their side – twice the ball rolled round the rim of the net and then dropped out, only to be snatched up by a New Zealand defender.
The Silver Ferns defensive pair of Katrina Grant and Jane Watson was formidable, making life extremely difficult for the South African shooters.
The Silver Ferns won the opening quarter by 17-7, with goalshooter Maria Folau succeeding with every goal attempt. The Proteas came back strongly in the second quarter, taking the half-time score to 30-19.
The Proteas centre court battled against the more focused Silver Ferns and continued to struggle to get the ball to their shooters, and it showed with New Zealand winning won the third quarter 14-11, to lead 44-30.
In the final quarter, New Zealand stepped up a gear and won the quarter by 17-7 – an echo of the dismal first quarter performance by the Proteas.
The Proteas’ struggles to get the ball to the shooters was the crucial difference between the teams. The Silver Ferns had 71 attempts at goal, and the Proteas just 49.
“Well, we’re back to square one,” said Plummer after the game. “It’s still a slight improvement – we used to lose by more than 30 goals, but this was 24 and that’s not good enough.”
The South Africans take on the England Roses in Melbourne on Sunday, in their last match of the current Quad Series.
Meanwhile, Fifth-ranked South Africa has been drawn to play fourth-ranked Jamaica in the first round of the 2019 Netball World Cup in Liverpool, but Plummer is unconcerned.
“It is what it is,” she said. “Yes, we lost to Jamaica at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in February, but in fact, it was only in the last seven minutes that they took control of the match. We won the first and third quarters.
“We had a problem with our shooters – our best shooter, Lenize Potgieter was injured and it’s hard to make up for someone like that,” said Plummer.
The South Africans, ranked fifth in the world, will also play Trinidad and Tobago, who recently qualified by winning a qualifying tournament, and 15th-ranked Fiji.
“We should have some good matches in the first round,” added Plummer.
“That will help us when we get into the business end of the tournament. Australia have a very easy first round and that won’t help them to prepare for the tougher matches in the second round.”
New Zealand, ranked third after finishing out of the medals at the Commonwealth Games, are up against Barbados, Malawi and Singapore while Commonwealth gold medallists, England, have been grouped with Uganda, Scotland and Samoa.
The Netball World Cup will be played in Liverpool from July 12 to 21.