Sport

NETBALL

Proteas suffer third-quarter slaughter in loss to Jamaica, but hope remains for World Cup semifinal challenge

Proteas suffer third-quarter slaughter in loss to Jamaica, but hope remains for World Cup semifinal challenge
Latanya Wilson of Jamaica and Karla Pretorius (vice captain) of South Africa during their Netball World Cup 2023, Pool C match on Sunday at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. (Photo: Ashley Vlotman / Gallo Images / Netball World Cup 2023)

South Africa’s Netball World Cup challenge stuttered after they suffered a humbling 67-49 loss to fourth-ranked Jamaica.

South Africa were outplayed 67-49 by a ruthless Jamaican outfit in their final Pool C game at the Netball World Cup 2023 on Sunday evening.

The result means the Proteas finished second in their four-team pool and now face a tough task to make the semifinals. 

Jamaica were clinical whereas South Africa were sloppy. The islanders were well worth their 18-point victory, even taking their foot off the gas in the final quarter by resting their starting seven.

The turning point in the match was the third quarter where Jamaica outscored the hosts by a stunning 17 points.

proteas netball

Jeante Strydom of South Africa and Khadijah Williams of Jamaica. (Photo: Ashley Vlotman / Gallo Images / Netball World Cup 2023)

“We came together at the halftime break, we were clinical with what we went out there to do and we just got the job done,” said player of the match Jodi-Ann Ward. 

“We were lacking in a few areas in the first and second quarter so we addressed it at the halftime break and just executed.” 

The complementary attacking pair of Jhaniele Fowler and Shanice Beckford tormented the Proteas’ defence throughout the encounter. 

Fowler’s size drew the attention of both goal defenders, Phumza Maweni and Karla Pretorius, while the nimble Beckford was constantly able to wriggle free to open up opportunities to score effectively from range.

“We have probably the best shooters in the world, arguably,” said Jamaican head coach Keyan Murdock after the encounter. 

Fowler shot an astonishing 98% in her 39-point rout while Beckford was impressive with 86% shooting for her 19 goals. 

A smattering of Jamaican support made their voices heard despite being hugely outnumbered in the packed Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) arena. 

“The crowd was very loud — both when South Africa were in possession and when we were in possession — but they definitely played a big role in our win,” Ward said.

Shaky start 

An electric atmosphere at the CTICC didn’t help settle any nerves as both sides had a shaky start with spills and fouls.

Jamaica capitalised and opened up an early two-point lead. But South Africa pulled it back level through slick play in midfield and sharp shooting by Lenize Potgieter, who was flawless in the opening quarter, shooting nine out of nine goals — she finished with 100% shooting from her 17 shots. 

But repeated unforced errors late in the quarter stripped the home side of possession and allowed Jamaica to open up a solid four-point lead to head into the second quarter 16-12 up. 

The Jamaicans started the second quarter in a similar vein, this time opening up a nine-point gap.

Proteas coach Norma Plummer responded to the growing deficit by bringing on goal attack Nichole Taljaard for the struggling Elmeré van der Berg — who shot four goals at 50%.

It worked a treat as the energy brought on to the field by Taljaard — who shot five goals at 100% when she came on — ignited the rest of the Proteas as they quickly reduced the gap to four points at 28-24 as the second-quarter whistle drew near.

But Jamaica, in their typically dogged style, ensured they finished the quarter strongly and the Caribbean team went into half time 32-26 ahead.

Domination 

The real domination came in the third quarter. 

Jamaica showed off their strong defence, restricting South Africa from any goal-scoring opportunities.

The Proteas scored their first goal of the quarter in the seventh minute, while Jamaica had already collected nine. 

The rub of the green went the way of the island nation in the quarter too, but they made the most of their luck through relentless hustling to get to the ball first.

proteas netball

Karla Pretorius of South Africa and Nicole Dixon-Rochester of Jamaica. (Photo: Ashley Vlotman / Gallo Images / Netball World Cup 2023)

Jamaica smashed SA to take the quarter 20-3 and head into the final one a whopping 54-29 up.

The final 15 minutes were a training session for Jamaica as their coach, Connie Francis, cleared the entire bench. 

Star goal shooter Ine-Marí Venter also made an appearance for South Africa as the Proteas rescued some respectability in front of a raucous crowd. 

The home side outscored their opponents 15-20 in the final 15 — as the match finished 67-49 — but it was never going to be enough after the demolition of the third quarter.

South Africa will face another Caribbean nation in Trinidad and Tobago on Monday evening.

A repercussion of the side’s loss to Jamaica is that they will face reigning champions and tournament favourites New Zealand on Wednesday followed by an all-African affair against Uganda on Thursday.

South Africa should overcome Trinidad and Tobago, who have only won one match so far, but will need an improved all-round performance against high-flying New Zealand and Uganda to progress to the semifinals. DM

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