Canberra - The Proteas proved they are a force to be reckoned with in world netball on Wednesday when they put up their best performance against Australia since 1967.
The Australian Diamonds won the SANZEA Quad Series match in Canberra by 58 goals to 52, but the world champions were made to fight hard for their victory.
At half-time, the two teams were level on 27-all.
South Africa had a shaky start, losing their first two centre passes, and after five minutes, were trailing the Diamonds 7-1. But they pulled themselves together and clawed their way back into the match. At the end of the quarter, Australia had a narrow 14-11 lead.
With wing attack Bongi Msomi and centre Erin Burger making a good job of getting the ball to the circle, South Africa dominated the second quarter, which they won by 16 goals to 13. Goalshooter Lenize Potgieter succeeded with 12 out of 13 attempts at goal, while goal attack Maryke Holtzhausen had a 100 per cent success rate in that quarter. The South African defenders, Phumza Maweni and Karla Mostert made life difficult for the Australian shooters and the Diamonds began to look a bit ragged. Midway through the quarter, they levelled the scores on 18-all and then went into the lead. They had a two goal advantage until the dying minutes of the quarter when the Diamonds drew level.
The Diamonds pulled away from the Proteas in the third quarter and by the end of it, they were five goals ahead (44-39). Fears that the South Africans would collapse in the final 15 minutes, allowing the Diamonds to pile on the goals, proved fruitless as the Proteas fought right until the end. Although Australia were nine goals ahead at one stage, the Proteas showed patience and determination and brought the goal difference down to six – their best performance against Australia in 50 years. The last time the two teams met, earlier this year, Australia won by 16 goals. In the World Cup in 2015, Australia beat South Africa by more than 30 goals.
“We’re very proud of what we achieved today,” said captain Msomi.
“We came here to perform and to do well as a team. We have now proved that we can compete with the best in the world and we are looking forward to our next match, against England, in New Zealand on Sunday.”
The superb performance of the Proteas equalled their loosing margin against the Australian Diamonds of 6 goals previously matched in 1967.
Earlier, the England Roses caused an upset when they beat World Cup silver medallists New Zealand 49-45 after trailing 26-23 at half-time.