Despite a 52-50 victory over Uganda in a Pool G match, South Africa’s hopes of claiming a semifinal spot at the Netball World Cup 2023 are over.
The Proteas needed to beat the She Cranes by at least 64 goals while at the same time keeping their opposition from scoring more than 20.
That was highly unlikely to happen since Uganda have been averaging around 63 goals per match in Cape Town.
Thursday’s victory was sweet revenge for the loss (48-54) South Africa suffered at last year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham when Uganda relegated them to sixth-place in the playoffs.
The two sides were evenly matched in the opening minutes of the match, keeping their centre passes. Karla Pretorius then made a brilliant steel in the Uganda goal circle and the Proteas got their noses in front, leading by three.
Ine-Marie Venter had a much better start after the nerves got the better of her yesterday, slotting all her attempts with ease. For Uganda, there were a lot of short passes in and around the goal circle, something that they will have to adapt as this will be outlawed from 1 January 2024.
STRONG START FOR SA
Uganda star shooter Mary Cholhok didn’t have as easy a time as in the previous matches. Phumza Maweni had her covered well.
The speed and ease with which the Proteas moved the ball across court clearly bothered the She Cranes. They couldn’t keep up and apply their own attacking style of play.
Izette Griesel and Proteas captain Bongi Msomi switched positions on centre and wing attack at the start of the second quarter with South Africa five goals in the lead (16-11).
South Africa raced to a ten-goal lead with Maweni continuing to bother Cholhok.
The first changes for Uganda came 10 minutes before halftime when Shadiah Nassanga and Haniisha Muhameed came on. Several positional changes were also made on court.
However, it wasn’t enough to stem the flow of goals for South Africa. They kept possession and fed it with ease to Ine-Marie Venter and Taljaard who took the score to 33-19 at halftime.
Taljaard, the heroine with her last-gasp equalising goal against New Zealand, remained on the bench at the start of the third quarter with Elmeré van der Berg coming on as goal attack. It wasn’t long however before Taljaard was back and Venter went off.
There were a couple of over-cooked passes in the South African goal circle with vital scoring opportunities going astray. Uganda outscored the Proteas with as many as five consecutive goals. That while South Africa could only land two goals within the first seven minutes of the quarter.
Maweni continued to frustrate Cholhok. The She Cranes shooter at times even threw her hands up in despair.
The third quarter belonged to Uganda who outscored South Africa by nine goals (17-8) with the She Cranes finally finding their rhythm.
A charged-up Uganda team took to the court for the final 15 minutes of the match. Within four minutes, they managed to even the score at 42-all, after trailing by 12 goals at one point.
Things got very physical at times with bodies flying all over and a few crash landings.
The South African bench was off their feet as time progressed in the final quarter. There were a few risky ball placements and umpire calls that had hearts in mouths.
A brilliant intercept right under the goal post by Nicola Venter with three minutes to go, turned the ball towards the South African circle and the Proteas went ahead by three.
Cholhok managed to land one more goal before the final hooter went, with the scoreboard reading 52-50 in South Africa’s favour.
Here’s how things end after the Preliminaries Stage two in Pool G ??
Both South Africa and Uganda will feature in the 5th/6th/7th/8th play-offs.