South Africa held their composure in the dying seconds to hand the Australian Centre of Excellence the first defeat of their netball tour on Friday, securing a 27-26 victory in the second and final match of the fast5 section of the SPAR International Netball Series in Potchefstroom.
The hosts took the early lead and stayed in front till the final whistle, using their powerplay to open a 12-point lead in the third quarter and then holding off the visitors in the final period.
The series ended in a 1-1 draw after the Australian side won the opening fast5 match on Wednesday.
‘It was a wonderful win, especially after the first game,’ said SAPR SA Fast5 coach Elize Kotze. ‘The last few seconds were really stressful out there but the girls handled themselves very well.
‘We kept to our game plan and this is only the beginning.’
South Africa’s assistant coach, Martha Mosoahle-Samm, was equally satisfied with the team’s performance.
‘It was a great game and I’m glad we pulled through. We’re very happy with the win,’ said Mosoahle-Samm.
Kotze will name her squad on Saturday for the Fast5 World Series in Auckland next month, and she confirmed South Africa would play warm-up matches against Jamaica, England and Australia before the annual five-a-side tournament.
‘South Africa played very well tonight,’ said Australian Centre of Excellence coach Michelle den Dekker.
‘I know they’ve been working very hard on some things ahead of their tournament next month and they did very well. I think our goal shooting percentage let us down tonight. That was probably the key.’
The Australian outfit will face a South African Under-23 side in the final match of their tour at Kopanelo Sport Hall on Saturday.
‘We’ve already won the series after winning the first two matches (in the longer format) and we’re absolutely confident we can win 3-0,’ Den Dekker said.
Pictured: South African’s Shadine van der Merwe and Any Steel of Australia in action on Friday. Picture credit: Mario van de Wall