South Africa have clinched the SPAR Challenge international netball series in style by beating Wales 64-45 in Saturday’s second Test in Durban.
The SPAR Proteas won the first Test 63-43 on Friday and the final Test will be played on Sunday.
The Proteas got off to a much better start than in the first Test. Coach Norma Plummer made some changes to the starting seven, bringing Rochelle Lawson and Izette Lubbe on in place of Precious Mthembu and Bongi Msomi. Both teams appeared to be more relaxed and Wales put up a good fight, particularly in the third quarter, which South Africa won narrowly, 15-14.
Plummer rang the changes with the team, giving Lauren-Lee Christians her first outing in the series, at wing attack, and bringing on Zanele Vimbela instead of Karla Mostert at goal defence. In the final quarter, she brought Msomi in at wing attack, and moved Lubbe to centre. Lubbe had an excellent game and was named player of the match.
Plummer said she had taken a few risks with the team. ‘I have a squad of 14 players, so there are always two behind the bench. But we are building for the World Cup in 2016 and I want to give all the players a chance,’ she said.
‘The nerves weren’t there today and we had a better start, but they flattened out a bit at various stages. The scoreline doesn’t really matter. What matters is putting into practice what we do in training.’
Wales coach Trish Wilcox said it had been a much better performance from her team.
‘They used the structures and systems better than yesterday, and I was very pleased with the third quarter, where we lost by only one goal. Our aim is to have four consistent quarters. We are reducing our losing margin one goal at a time,’ she said, smiling.
Wilcox said three Under-21 players had played in the senior team.
‘It is fantastic to give them exposure at this level, ahead of the Under-21 World Cup in Botswana next year. I made several changes during the match because I want the players to learn to cope with the pressure.’
In the curtain raiser, the Baby Proteas beat Wales Under-21 73-22 . South African coach Jenny van Dyk made a number of changes to the squad that beat Wales 75-25 on Friday. Assistant coach Dumisani Chauke said they had played several Under-20 players, because they would be the ones playing in the World Cup qualifiers.
‘The Under-21s will help us to qualify, but it is the youngsters who will be playing next year,’ she said.
In the picture, Lenize Potgieter of the Proteas and Welsh opponent Kelly Morgan contest possession on Saturday. Picture by KellyMorgan