Cape Town - The Proteas recorded their first SANZEA Quad Series win on Sunday when they held their nerve to beat the England Roses 54-51 in Invercargill, New Zealand.
It was the South African netball team’s first victory over England since 2013.
In Durban in January this year, England beat South Africa 60-55 in extra time, after the two teams were level at 48-all when the final whistle blew.
On Sunday, the Proteas and Roses exchanged goals for the first few minutes of the match, before England made the first breakthrough midway through the first quarter.
Four goals in a row put them into an 8-4 lead, but South Africa fought back with their own flurry of goals and won the first quarter 13-11.
The Proteas had their noses in front for most of the second quarter, until, in the last few seconds, a rare miss by Maryka Holtzhausen gave England an important turnover and the two teams were level at 26-all at half-time.
South Africa came out storming after the break and within five minutes had a five-goal lead.
Erin Burger (centre), Bongiwe Msomi (wing attack) and Precious Mthembu (wing defence) controlled the centre court, making it difficult for the Roses to get the ball into their circle.
Holtzhausen appeared to be back at her best and goal defenders Karla Mostert and Phumza Maweni combined effectively in the Roses’ circle.
But the star of the team was goal-shooter Lenize Potgieter, who was calm under pressure and had a 100 percent success rate in the third and fourth quarters.
By the end of the third quarter, South Africa led 42-38.
England coach Tracey Neville made a number of changes as she tried to keep the South Africans in check, but the Proteas remained calm and played with confidence.
With time running out, England turned the ball, but Helen Housby missed her attempt at goal and the ball went back to the South African circle, where Potgieter made no mistake.
“It feels fabulous to have beaten one of the world’s top three,” said captain Msomi.
“We have been working very hard and we knew we were going to perform well here. Having Norma Plummer as our coach has given us confidence and we are going from strength to strength.”
Burger, one of South Africa’s most capped players, described the win as “the nicest win we have had.”
“We can go back and start preparing for the next stage of the Quad Series and for the Commonwealth Games next year with renewed confidence. I think we have shown that we can compete with the very best,” said Burger.
In the second match, the New Zealand Silver Ferns beat the world champions, the Australian Diamonds, 57-47 to clinch the Quad Series title.