Sport

NETBALL

World Cup dream ends in disappointment for Proteas

World Cup dream ends in disappointment for Proteas
Shadine van der Merwe of South Africa during the Netball World Cup 2023 Pool G match against Uganda at Cape Town International Convention Centre on 3 August 2023. (Photo: Ashley Vlotman / Gallo Images / Netball World Cup 2023)

South Africa’s Netball World Cup hopes were dashed despite beating Uganda 52-50 on Thursday.

South Africa beat Uganda’s She Cranes 52-50 in their final second preliminary group stage match on Thursday. The Proteas needed to beat Uganda by an improbable 64 points to overtake New Zealand on the Pool G log and qualify for the Netball World Cup semifinals.

Undefeated Jamaica now go through to the semis as pool leaders on 10 points while the Silver Ferns sneak through on seven points, tied with the home nation but with a superior points difference.

South Africa’s final preliminary stage one 67-49 defeat to Jamaica proved vital to their failure to progress to the final four.

world cup proteas

Elmeré van der Berg of South Africa during the Netball World Cup match against Uganda at Cape Town International Convention Centre on 3 August 2023. (Photo: Ashley Vlotman / Gallo Images / Netball World Cup 2023)

Earlier in the day, Jamaica crushed reigning world champions New Zealand 59-48 to provide South Africa with a sliver of hope for a semifinal berth.

But thumping eighth-ranked Uganda by 64 points was always going to be an unlikely challenge.

At one point during the all-African clash, it looked like a possibility, but an inspired third-quarter performance by the She Cranes dragged the match into much closer quarters than the home side would have preferred.

Picking up

The Proteas’ urgency in racking up points was noticeable as Taljaard picked up where she left off against New Zealand the day before, opening up the scoring with a long-range effort.

The Proteas side was similar to the one that drew 48-48 with the Silver Ferns; the only change was Shadine van der Merwe, who started in wing defence ahead of Jeante Strydom.

It was a clash of styles between the two African sides. 

world cup proteas

Izette Griesel of South Africa during the Netball World Cup match against Uganda on 3 August 2023. (Photo: Ashley Vlotman / Gallo Images / Netball World Cup 2023)

South Africa insisted on fast build-up play to stack up points as quickly as possible, as opposed to the patient, pass-filled build-up play by Uganda.

Uganda’s steady build-up play meant they had 60% possession in the opening quarter, but were five goals behind, at 16-11, when the whistle went.

Goalkeeper Phumza Maweni was colossal in restricting the ball coming in to dangerous Ugandan goal shooter, Mary Cholhok.

South Africa had a 100% shooting percentage in the opening quarter as both Ine-Marí Venter and Taljaard were flawless.

The Proteas picked up the intensity in the second quarter, scoring the first goal in the first 10 seconds and then scoring five consecutive goals to open up a 21-11 lead.

Uganda struggled to get out of the mid-court from centre passes due to the overload of players South Africa constantly committed.

world cup proteas

Jeante Strydom of South Africa during the Netball World Cup match against Uganda at Cape Town International Convention Centre on 3 August 2023. (Photo: Ashley Vlotman / Gallo Images / Netball World Cup 2023)

But the Proteas’ need to score caused forced passes — leading to unforced errors and turned-over possession.

An injury to Izette Griesel in the quarter saw Khanyisa Chawane take the goal attack position as South Africa continued to steadily rack up points.

It took almost 28 minutes for South Africa to miss their first shot at goal. It was followed by another as Venter missed back-to-back, but she recaptured her rhythm late in the second quarter to take South Africa to 33-19 at the halfway mark.

But the 14-goal margin needed to be extended three-fold in the second half if South Africa hoped to make it to the semifinals.

Foot off the gas

With South Africa needing an extraordinary showing in the last 30 minutes, head coach Norma Plummer decided to take the inspiring Taljaard off at halftime, with Elmeré van der Berg replacing her.

Having two physical, but less mobile attackers in Van der Berg and Venter on the court at the same time meant South Africa could not pressure Uganda with their high-energy gameplan.

In turn, the She Cranes went on a three-goal streak to open up the quarter. A few minutes later, Uganda were outscoring the hosts 11-2 in the quarter.

world cup netball

Irene Eyaru, captain of Uganda, during the Netball World Cup match against the Proteas at Cape Town International Convention Centre on 3 August 2023. (Photo: Ashley Vlotman / Gallo Images / Netball World Cup 2023)

Plummer, in turn, brought Taljaard back on court – eight minutes into the quarter – in an attempt to regain momentum.

But the slim hope of attaining a 64-point gap vanished in the eight minutes that Taljaard was off the court.

South Africa rescued some parity after the substitution, but Uganda still eroded nine goals into the lead as they went into the final quarter only 41-36 behind.

Uganda went on another assaulting run at the start of the final quarter to score five goals to one and level the scores 42-42 with their African opponents.

The teams took turns to score as they went up to 48-48, with five minutes to go.

South Africa were 49-48 up with under two minutes to go before the star of South Africa’s tournament, Taljaard, slammed two quick goals to take the score to 51-49 and save the game.

Uganda scored a consolation goal through Cholhok but it was too little too late for the She Cranes.

South Africa’s next match will be on Friday against the winner of the clash between Malawi and Tonga. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • andrew farrer says:

    SA’s 3rd Q is, and has for a while, been a problem! If we’re ever going to break back into the top 4 this needs to be sorted out. I’d love to see the stats of how many turnovers the defence made which were not converted. T have the beating of Eng/ Aus & Jamaica we need to convert 95% + of these. Additionally we need to get more professional. Had we been more aware at the end of Q3 vs NZ, we could’ve won that game. NZ had the center pass with just seconds left on the clock, and we let them get quick ball to the shooter who scored. The ball should’ve been slapped out of the NZ GA/WA (can’t remember which received the pass). This time delay in setting the penalty pass would have run down the clock, and we’d have won by 1.

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    Bad luck ladies. A valiant effort, you’ve done us proud👏

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