Jamaica inflict Proteas’ first loss of NWC 2023

In the most hotly anticipated showdown of the first stage of preliminary matches, hosts South Africa faced off against Commonwealth Games silver medallists Jamaica to determine which side would... Read more
Jamaica inflict Proteas' first loss of NWC 2023

In the most hotly anticipated showdown of the first stage of preliminary matches, hosts South Africa faced off against Commonwealth Games silver medallists Jamaica to determine which side would top Group C.

In a surprise move, South Africa’s Lenize Potgieter was included in the starting seven, taking to the court for the first time in the tournament, with both knees heavily strapped.

It was a nervous start for both sides with possession changing hands three times before the opening goal was scored by Jamaica. The Sunshine Girls edged ahead in the opening minutes before the Proteas levelled at 8-all and then took the lead for the first time soon after. But some silly errors from the home side proved expensive and the Jamaicans capitalised to take a four-goal lead into the first break.

The Sunshine Girls then began to dominate in the second quarter, easily finding goal shooter Jhaniele Fowler in the circle and the Proteas soon found themselves nine goals down.

Despite massive encouragement from Potgieter, Elmeré van der Berg looked somewhat overwhelmed at goal attack and was soon replaced by the more confident Nichole Taljaard. Her

introduction had an immediate impact and the Proteas worked hard to close the gap, but they were still eight goals down at halftime.

The error count continued to rise for the South Africans in a disastrous third quarter, allowing the Jamaicans to take an even firmer grip on the game. The Sunshine Girls defence was particularly effective in preventing Potgieter from getting any ball in the circle and with five minutes remaining in the quarter, the South Africans had scored just one goal. The damaging third period for the hosts finished 20-3 in favour of the Caribbean nation.

Ine-Mari Venter was brought on to replace Potgieter at goal shooter for the final quarter and Shadine van der Merwe at wing defence while captain Bongi Msomi returned to centre. It was a better 15 minutes from the South Africans, who actually won the quarter by five goals, but that did little to dent the massive gap that the rampant Jamaicans had built by then.

The 67-49 win sees Jamaica progressing to the second stage of the preliminaries top of Group C, so providing a potentially smoother path to the semifinals.

Jamaican defender Jodi-Ann Ward was duly rewarded for her efforts by being named Most Valuable Player.

Speaking after the match, Jamaica’s assistant coach Keyan Murdock said: “We are pretty pleased in terms of the overall performance. The third quarter was impressive but I know we were playing a quality team so we expected the challenge that came from them. The final score doesn’t reflect how hard the game was so kudos to the South Africans in terms of how hard they played.”

South African captain Bongi Msomi remained positive after the match, saying: “It’s always best to play in front of your home crowd but mostly I’m pleased with how we started. The girls really stood strong.

“There were a few patches where we could have been better… I think this is a lesson. The World Cup doesn’t stop today. Yes, there are couple of tough games that we are going to come up against but if we can put together some of the great performances we had today, I think we can look forward to what’s next.”

SCORES
Q1: 16-12
Q2: 32-26 (16-14)
Q3: 52-29 (20-3)
Q4: 67-49 (15-20)

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Jodi-Ann Ward (Jamaica)

For a full wrap of the third day’s action, click here!

Photo: Twitter/@Netball_SA

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