Johannesbburg - The South African women's netball side went down 63-24 to a strong New Zealand outfit in their Quad Series match in Tauranga, New Zealand on Sunday.
The Silver Ferns started off at a frantic pace, scoring nine goals before the South Africans were able to get onto the scoreboard.
Goal-shooter Chrisna Bootha, who appeared to be struggling, called for a time-out and was substituted by Melissa Myburgh, who scored South Africa's first goal after six and a half minutes.
The Proteas, who were having difficulty getting the ball into their circle, managed another four goals in the quarter to trail the Silver Ferns 18-5.
From the second quarter, the Proteas began playing more confidently.
Bongiwe Msomi, playing at centre, had an excellent game, achieving several vital turnovers.
Bootha returned and showed her class as she guided her side in their fightback.
At the other end of the court, defender Vanes-Mari du Toit showed her improvement as she thwarted the New Zealand attack and kept the SA side in with a chance as time ran down.
The NZ ladies, who lost heavily to arch-rivals Australia a week ago, used all 12 players as they tried various combinations in preparation for their return match against the world champions on Thursday.
The Proteas, meanwhile, were able to take some advantage of the situation, capitalising on the weaker combinations and scoring at key moments in the clash.
New Zealand had the upper hand throughout the match, restricting South Africa to just five goals in each of the first three quarters.
New Zealand led 31-10 at half-time and extended that lead to 47-15 after the third quarter.
SA skipper Amanda Mynhardt believed there were positives to be taken from the match, despite the heavy defeat.
"There were times when we were able to get through their defence, and we are learning all the time by playing against the best teams in the world," she said.
"We want to put everything we've learnt into a great performance against England on Thursday."