Bronze for SA netball team
Maryke Holtzhausen (Gallo Images)
Auckland - SA's national netball team took third place in the Fast5 World Netball Series here in New Zealand, with a thrilling 38-34 win over Jamaica in the third place play off on Sunday.
It was South Africa’s best performance in an international tournament since they won silver at the world championships in Birmingham in 1995.
Runners-up England outplayed the Proteas in their semi-final, played earlier in the day, beating them 39-15. England controlled possession throughout the match, denying the South Africans the opportunity to go for goals, and even in their power play quarter, where goals are doubled, the Proteas could only add two points. The normally reliable goal shooting duo, Chrisna Bootha and Maryke Holtzhausen, appeared flustered and appeared unable to get the ball through the hoop.
South Africa got off to a slow start in the third place play-off, and Jamaica roared into an 11-4 lead in the first quarter, with their ultra-tall goal-shooter, Jhanielle Fowler, content to shoot from the one-point zone and rack up the goals.
The Proteas opted to take their power play in the second quarter, and it was then that they stamped their authority on the match. Bootha scored two goals from the two-point zone and two from the three-point zone, to add 20 points to their total.
With South Africa leading 26-16 at half-time, Jamaica took their power play in the third quarter in an attempt to catch up, but the Proteas restricted them to 10 points, while adding six of their own to lead 32-26.
In the final quarter, the Proteas retained possession of the ball for much of the time, to deny the Jamaicans the chance to reduce the deficit. The Jamaicans were reluctant to attempt goals from the two and three point zones, whereas the Proteas were prepared to throw caution to the winds and go for the riskier shots.
South Africa’s victory was very much a team effort, with the Proteas going back to the basics and dictating the way the game was played. Centre court players Bongiwe Msomi and Simnikiwe Mdaka, sporting a black eye after a collision with team-mate Amanda Strydom on Saturday, both played pivotal roles in keeping the ball moving, while goalkeeper Vanes-Mari du Toit showed she is a star of the future.
Captain Mdaka said the players were thrilled to be going home with a medal.
“We had to come from behind to win, but South Africans are fighters, and we never gave up hope,” she said. “We came here determined to win a medal - any medal - and it’s fantastic to have done that.”
New Zealand took gold, with a nail-biting 23-21 victory over England, while Malawi beat Australia 33-30 to take fifth place. Results:
Semi-final 1: 1st-New Zealand bt 4th-Jamaica 52-18
Semi-final 2: 2nd-England bt 3rd-SPAR South Africa 39-15
Play-off for 5th/6th: Malawi bt Australia 33-30
Play-off for 3rd/4th: South Africa
bt Jamaica 38-34
Grand Final: New Zealand bt England 23-21Final placings:
1. Fast5 Ferns
2. England Fives3. South Africa
4. Jamaican Sunshine Girls
5. Malawi Queens
6. Australian Fast5 Diamonds