SA gain confidence in Jamaica

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The South African netball team has scored a confidence boost in their first match in Jamaica at the National Arena in the capital, Kingston.

A 46-36 win over the Jamaican under-21 side on Thursday gave coach Elize Kotze some satisfaction, considering she tried new combinations during the warm-up match.

“I saw what I wanted to see and am happy with my team,” Kotze said on Friday.

“I am satisfied with the girls and they played an all-round, solid game.”

Kotze, however, said she was concerned that her team had not trained on the floor and in the stadium where the three-Test series will be played.

A boxing event in the same stadium – the National Indoor Sports Centre – on Wednesday evening prevented the Proteas from training in the stadium.

The sprung floor will only be laid by mid-afternoon on Friday, hours before the first Test.

“Although I am satisfied with our preparation since (our) arrival on Monday it would have been better to 'feel' and 'experience' the test venue,” she said.

“But we are not going to let that get us down. My girls are so positive and are in a great space, and I want to keep it that way.”

The Tests – to be played on June 15, 17 and 19 – are vital for the South Africans, as a series win over the higher-ranked Jamaicans (world number four) will move SA up a spot on the world rankings to five, ahead of their African rivals Malawi.

Kotze's coach made a few changes in Thursday's warm-up clash, but said her priority was to give the front starting players time on court so that they were prepared for the opening Test.

The first quarter started slowly for SA and although they won 18-8, Kotze said the team made too many mistakes and gave away too many free points.

The second quarter saw Kotze bring on wing attack Bongi Msomi and goal defence Anneret Viljoen.

The Proteas put on added pressure, but ill-discipline within the South African side saw their lead drop.

Although SA lost the second quarter, they still led 26-18 at half-time.

In the third quarter, Kotze pulled off all her top players as she felt the Jamaican players were playing too aggressively and she was concerned her first choice players would get injured ahead of Friday's opening Test.

“I don't mind my girls being bruised physically but can't afford them to be bruised mentally,” Kotze said.

The four replacements brought new energy to the Proteas and seven quick goals were scored by SA within four minutes of the quarter.

The young Jamaican side kept up the pressure and held the Proteas from running away with the game, with the quarter ending in South Africa's favour (12-8), extending their lead to 38-26.

The final quarter saw the Proteas making an impressive start with the ball moving swiftly from centre to goal and star shooter Chrisna Botha scoring impressively.

Botha was the only player to play all four quarters and ended the match with an impressive 92 percent scoring average. – Sapa


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