It was never going to be easy for the Spar Protea netball team as they took on hometown favourites Jamaica in the first of three Tests on Friday evening in the Jamaican capital, Kingston.
It was a tough, fast and very physical encounter between the Proteas and the Sunshine Girls with the home team winning 63-48.
“At least we halved the score from our last encounter against Jamaica at the World Championships last year where they beat us 64-37” said Protea coach Elize Kotze.
“That's the positive and I always look for positives after a loss.
“We had enough ball possession to secure this match and did an extremely good job on defence.”
The packed stadium was loud and vocal and gave the Sunshine Girls incredible support throughout.
The high scoring first quarter saw a brilliant start by the Proteas as they moved the ball swiftly from centre to circle like seasoned pros and opened the scoring.
The strong start, however, was cut short by Jamaica who intercepted brilliantly with captain Nadine Bryan in particular creating plenty of opportunity for her team.
The Jamaican shooters were on target and by the end of the first quarter the Sunshine Girls were leading 17-12.
Going into the second quarter, Kotze made one substitution replacing captain Amanda Mynhardt with new cap Anneret Viljoen.
The Proteas played a solid second quarter but once again the Jamaican interceptions were on target and the Proteas gave away plenty of opportunities.
The Proteas held on to hold the Jamaican's to a 14-14 quarter score.
In the third quarter, Mynhardt, with a heavily strapped thigh, returned to court.
Her strong leadership was evident as she led the Proteas to within three points of Jamaica but, once again, the Sunshine Girls regrouped and “silly mistakes” by South Africa cost them.
The Jamaican team won the third quarter 16-13.
In the final quarter, Kotze brought on fresh legs in Bongi Msomi and Precious Mthembu.
Edged on by the crowd, the Jamaican outfit stepped up their game and scored five consecutive goals to give them a 13 point lead with eight minutes remaining.
This put added pressure on the Proteas who struggled to minimise the deficit and lost the quarter 9-16.
“We need to work on our discipline when we have ball possession” said Kotze.
“We made too many unforced errors and it's very important to capitalise on ball in hand, an area where we need to have more discipline.
“We had more than enough turn over and ball possession to secure the game.”
The second Test will take place Sunday 17 June with the third and final Test taking place Tuesday 19 June. – Sapa