Sport

NETBALL

Spectacular draw for Proteas against Silver Ferns in Netball World Cup keeps them in running for semi-finals

Spectacular draw for Proteas against Silver Ferns in Netball World Cup keeps them in running for semi-finals
Proteas captain Bongiwe Msomi and Gina Crampton of New Zealand during the Netball World Cup 2023 Pool G match between South Africa and New Zealand at Cape Town International Convention Centre. (Photo: Shaun Roy / Gallo Images / Netball World Cup 2023)

South Africa secured a stunning come-from-behind draw against reigning champions New Zealand in front of a jubilant crowd at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Wednesday evening.

A Nichole Taljaard buzzer-beater helped the Proteas draw an enthralling match 48-48 against New Zealand’s Silver Ferns to keep their hopes of a semifinal at the Netball World Cup alive. 

South Africa were five points behind with five minutes left on the clock in the final quarter. 

Inspired by the need to win to have a chance of making the semifinals, and a roaring crowd, the Proteas — through Taljaard and Elmeré van der Berg — went bang-bang-bang and outscored New Zealand eight points to three in those five minutes. 

With the clock ticking down, along with South Africa’s chances of going through, Taljaard took a last-second, long-range shot to tie up the game and send the crowd into a frenzy. 

The Proteas played as well as they had all tournament throughout the 60 minutes against a classy Silver Ferns outfit, both in attack and defence. 

As sweet as the finish and the performance of the Proteas were, because they failed to beat the reigning champions, their fate in the World Cup is out of their hands. 

South Africa need Jamaica to beat New Zealand at 11am tomorrow, while they need to thump Uganda at 4pm to go through on goal difference. 

Players during the Netball World Cup 2023 Pool G match between South Africa and New Zealand at Cape Town International Convention Centre on 2 August 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Shaun Roy / Gallo Images / Netball World Cup 2023)

Composed start

South Africa held the lead twice in the match, with the score at 1-0 and 2-1, in the opening exchanges of the clash. They never retained it again but also didn’t allow reigning world champions New Zealand to get out to more than a six-goal lead — to stay within touching distance. 

The usually reliable Ine-Marí Venter scored the first points of the match to rapturous applause from the crowd at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC). But the goal shooter struggled in the first two quarters of the match, shooting at only 65% before being replaced. 

Player of the match — for the second game in a row — Taljaard was flawless in front of goal in the opening quarter, while the experienced defensive duo of Phumza Maweni and Karla Pretorius ensured New Zealand only got 12 shots at goal, 11 of which were successful. 

Captain Bongiwe Msomi and wing attack Izette Griesel were up and down the court like Energizer Bunnies, outrunning the pacy Silver Ferns midfield. 

South Africa nullified the usually incisive New Zealand attack in the early stage of the match by employing a person-marking defensive system. 

But the adaptable Silver Ferns upped the tempo as the quarter progressed and took a small 11-10 lead into the second quarter. 

The relentless South African hustle found a new gear at the start of the second quarter as they levelled the score at 15-15. 

With Venter shooting 11/17 in the first quarter and a half, coach Norma Plummer made the brave decision to substitute her with 22-year-old Elmeré van der Berg, who missed her first shot at goal. 

But she grew into the match beautifully to finish with 22 goals for a respectable 85% shooting percentage. 

For all of South Africa’s excellence, the question was always whether they would maintain the high level of play throughout the 60-minute encounter. 

Towards the end of the second quarter that standard started to wane as New Zealand stretched out to a five-point, 26-21 lead at halftime. 

Phoenix Karaka of New Zealand and Nichole Taljaard of South Africa during the Netball World Cup 2023 Pool G match between South Africa and New Zealand at Cape Town International Convention Centre on 2 August 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Shaun Roy / Gallo Images / Netball World Cup 2023)

Second-half win 

Skipper Msomi came off at the start of the third quarter for Khanyisa Chawane in the centre position, but Chawane struggled to adapt to the intensity of the clash before Msomi was reinstated for her in the same quarter. 

The third quarter started with a slew of unforced errors by the Proteas, while the Silver Ferns came out in a relentless mood, stretching their lead to seven points early in the quarter. 

South Africa’s persistent defence kept them in the clash as they slowly crept closer to New Zealand’s lead. 

A seven-point gap became four and then two as the roof of the CTICC was under threat of blowing off from the noise in the makeshift arena. 

New Zealand recognised the swing in momentum and made the interesting decision to take off their captain, the lanky Ameliaranne Ekenasio and bring on the more physical Tiana Metuarau in the goal-attack position. 

It paid off, as New Zealand scored a few late goals including a buzzer-beater by goal shooter Maia Wilson. 

It meant the Proteas only took the quarter by one point, 13-12, and the match stood at 38-34, with a perfect quarter needed from the hosts to seal an unlikely win. 

And perfect it was. 

The score was 40-45 with five minutes to go before the excited crowd when the Proteas delivered a magical spell at the first-ever Netball World Cup in South Africa. 

The crowd rumbled with every successful pass made in the dying minutes as a sense of inevitability started to settle. 

South Africa could not miss a shot at goal and New Zealand could not find a pass to a teammate. With the score at 48-47 to the Silver Ferns, Izette Griesel’s pass to Taljaard was made with three seconds left. Taljaard’s shot at the edge of the inside circle touched nothing but net as every millisecond counted. 

It was an exercise in composure and opportunity that the Proteas grasped with both hands when it mattered most. 

South Africa now have to hope that the final few group games work out as perfectly as the final few seconds on Wednesday night panned out. DM

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • D'Esprit Dan says:

    A fantastic result! Along with Banyana Banyana’s win against Italy yesterday, our two women’s sides have given Women’s Month a brilliant start! Let’s hope for many more great stories this month!

  • Gordon Tonetti says:

    What a game, well done SA Proteas , this was more exciting than the springbok rugby game

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

X

This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.


Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

We would like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick...

…but we are not going to force you to. Over 10 million users come to us each month for the news. We have not put it behind a paywall because the truth should not be a luxury.

Instead we ask our readers who can afford to contribute, even a small amount each month, to do so.

If you appreciate it and want to see us keep going then please consider contributing whatever you can.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

Daily Maverick Elections Toolbox

Feeling powerless in politics?

Equip yourself with the tools you need for an informed decision this election. Get the Elections Toolbox with shareable party manifesto guide.