The Proteas netballers bounced back in the best possible fashion to beat England 54-48 in a thrilling international in Bellville, Cape Town. This came after two narrow defeats to their powerful opponents, the bronze medallists in the most recent World Cup.
They say there’s no such thing as a ‘dead rubber’ when international sport is played and for the Proteas they rebounded strongly after going down 59-53 and 63-58 in the previous two matches, also played in Cape Town.
Although England therefore won the series 2-1, the South Africans can hold their heads high, after forcing the first Test on Friday into extra-time. In the final Test however, the hosts were five goals ahead after five minutes. Phumza Maweni was outstanding as goalkeeper, succeeding with a number of turnovers. By the end of the quarter, the Proteas were 16-10 ahead.
They continued the pressure in the second quarter, but England fought back and the two teams shared the quarter with 11 goals each. (27-21) Lenize Potgieter appeared to be adapting to her new role of goal attack, with Ine-Mari Venter at goalshooter.
England maintained their fight back in the third quarter and after 10 minutes, were level (35-35). But the Proteas again stepped up a gear and finished the quarter 41-36 ahead.
In the final quarter, Potgieter returned to her preferred position as goalkeeper, with Lefebre Rademan as goal attack. The crowd became increasingly enthusiastic as the Proteas extended their lead, to 10 goals at one stage.
Potgieter, who had 100 per cent accuracy in the first three quarters, was named player of the match and wing defence Shadine van der Merwe the player of the series.
Proteas coach Dorette Badenhorst said: ‘Two-one is much better than three-nil. It was a great game between two very good teams. We won the match in the first quarter, because we achieved our goal of getting five goals ahead, which meant that England were playing catch-up.
‘It was a great team effort. The players on the court played with heart and had the backing of the bench. They are beginning to trust one another.’
Earlier, the Baby Proteas wrapped up the series against Lesotho Under-21, beating them 79-22 to win 3-0 overall.