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Unbeaten Proteas pushed

The SPAR South African netball team didn’t not have things all their own way on the third day of the Africa Qualifying Games in Mamelodi on Wednesday and had to work extremely hard to beat Botswana 54-38 and maintain their unbeaten record in the tournament.

Six teams are playing in the tournament to determine which two countries will join Malawi as the three African representatives at the world championships in Singapore next year while the Proteas are now preparing for the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India next month.

Botswana are expected to join South Africa and Malawi in Singapore. The match started with the teams exchanging goal for goal, before South Africa managed to get their noses in front, and at the end of the first quarter, the Proteas lead 15-10.  Both teams were playing very defensive netball, marking each other closely, and it was a very tight situation.

Erin Burger replaced captain Liezel Wium at centre after the break, and she was able to pick up the pace as the Proteas stretched their lead. Although there was plenty of action on the court, it was hurried rather than fast-paced, and both teams were guilty of a number of handling errors.

Botswana outscored South Africa by 11 goals to nine in the third quarter, but the Proteas had established enough of a lead not to be under any serious threat, and a volley of 17 goals in the final quarter saw them safely home.

Coach Carin Strauss was philosophical about the match; ÔÇ£It was one of those matches that we are just happy to have won.┬á Botswana outplayed us in the third quarter, and we had to regroup and refocus,ÔÇØ she said. ÔÇ£It’s been a tough day, and this game has given us a bit of a wake-up call, and made us realise that we still have some areas to work on.ÔÇØ She said the Proteas had made too many errors on attack and their decision-making had not been as good as it should have been. ÔÇ£We needed to play short against a physical team and we didn’t do that.ÔÇØ

She said it had been the toughest game of the tournament so far. ÔÇ£We had heard rumours that Botswana had some international training at their squad camps, and it was visible in the way they played today.┬á We rate Botswana as an international team ÔÇô they are good and they are experienced,ÔÇØ said Strauss.

South Africa’s final match is against Namibia at midday on Thursday.

Wednesday’s results

Botswana bt Tanzania                    57-26

Namibia bt Lesotho                         47-21

South Africa bt Botswana             54-38

Zimbabwe bt Namibia                    42-33