18 July 2019, Liverpool – Thursday night’s game between South Africa’s SPAR Proteas and England’s Roses at the Vitality Netball World Cup in Liverpool was dubbed the battle of the flowers, the question was always who would bloom first between the two.
But hosts England were the better side on the night and in front of an enthusiastic partisan crown and they beat South Africa 58-47.
Both teams had already qualified for the semi-finals leading up to this game where they are joined by Australia and New Zealand. The South African team went onto court wearing black arm bands in commemoration of World Mandela Day but most importantly to pay respect to the family of Netball South Africa President Cecilia Molokwane and Team Manager Nisha Rupnarain who lost their mother and father respectively over the past 24 hours.
The Vitality Roses enjoyed the loud cheering of the crowd and this seemed to have fuelled them as they got off to a flying start putting the SPAR Proteas under enormous pressure right from the beginning.
The South African forwards seemed to be struggling with converting their chances upfront especially when one considers how clinical they have been in the past. England were leading South Africa 19 -11 at the end the first quarter.
The Roses didn’t put their foot off the pedal as the second quarter started, they continued exactly where they left off in the first, applying so much pressure on the Proteas. Halfway through the quarter they had converted nine chances against South Africa’s five. The Proteas seem to have been fighting back but failed to convert most of their opportunities and as a result, England won the quarter 12 -9 and took their overall lead to 31 -20 at the end of the second quarter.
Coming from the half time break, SA coach Plummer brought on Khanyisa Chawane in for Izette Griesel. England’s Goal Attacker Helen Housby seemed to be having the time of her life on the court tonight converting 94% of her chances. South Africa came out of the dressing stronger and more clinical than they were in the first two quarters of this clash. Handling errors seemed to be their only enemy in this quarter. Chawane’s speed and agility seemed to have been working for the Proteas as she was very quick off the mark and moving the ball forward quickly. South Africa seemed to be fighting very hard wanting to catch up to England however the hosts seemed to be very strong opponents and holding onto their lead.
“We had a very shaky start to the game; the ladies seemed a bit nervous however we managed to bring it in and composed the girls. We experimented a bit with the team because we needed to give everyone a run ahead of our game against Australia, said Nicole Cusack, SPAR Proteas Assistant Coach.
Captain Bongiwe Msomi was taken off very early in the game and many in the crowd were a bit worried whether she would be able to play in the semis against Australia. Assistant Coach Cusack confirmed that it is not a serious injury and she (Msomi) should be available for the match against the Aussies on Saturday.
The SPAR Proteas managed to win the last quarter of the game 17 – 15 however lost the match 47-58 to the Vitality Roses. What the results mean for South Africa is that they will face Australia in the first semi-final this Saturday in their quest for a place at the finals table on Sunday.