Belfast, Northern Ireland - The SPAR Netball Proteas opened their European
Championships campaign on Thursday with a bag of mixed fortunes. The South
Africa’s ended day one of the five day tournament winning and losing a game.
In their opening match of the invitational event being
played in Belfast, Northern Ireland, South Africa struggled to beat Scotland
45-36. The Proteas have never lost to Scotland and in their last test series
played in Cape Town in 2014, the home side convincingly beat the Scots 3-0 in a
warm up series ahead of the Commonwealth Games.
But on Thursday a “sluggish” Protea outfit found
themselves fighting from the start, lost the first quarter, but regrouped
through the tough match to find the victory.
"Although we had a bad start, the whole squad
showed great character to get over the line for the win” said Maryka
Holtzhausen the SPAR Protea Captain.
“Clinical passages of through court play
and great defense turned the score around. I am very proud of the whole squad
for getting the win.”
Bennie Saayman the Protea coach said that she was satisfied with the
opening win against the Scots and was convinced that her team with more
international exposure would become an excellent unit.
But then the South African side in their second match
on the opening day faced a different opponent. England, the world number three
ranked side, and tournament favourites, were always going to pose the biggest
threat to the Proteas throughout the tournament. And England certainly were on
song as they thumped South Africa 69-33.
Despite the score line, Protea Captain Holtzhausen
said she felt her team were better than what the scoreboard showed at the end
of the match.
“There were great moments and passages of play in the match, but
they were few and far between. Our basics also let us down. We must
take the positives from this game and win the rest ahead of us. Everyone in the squad now knows what it is going to take to compete against the
top 4 in the world, so now we have to lift the intensity and bounce back."
Bennie Saayman the Protea coach was disappointed with
her teams result against England. ‘Our girls made too many basic mistakes
, struggled to feed the circle and other influences had an impact."
Today (Friday) the SPAR Proteas take on hosts Northern Ireland (18h30 local
time) who have made huge progress over the years in netball and have moved just
outside the top ten of the world rankings. The task will be great for
South Africa as the Irish are seen by many as the “dark horse” team of the
tournament and have important hometown advantage.
"Going through the disappointment of
yesterday’s loss, brought us closer together as a team and even more determined
to better our performance today” said Holtzhausen.
to go out on court and get the basics right”.
Saayman said that she was convinced that the true South African spirit
will be visible on court against Northern Ireland and constructive netball be
The team collectively
said they wanted to thank South Africa for the support.
“We really appreciate
the support from South Africa and just want to make you proud" concluded