JOHANNESBURG – Hopes of the Proteas netball team emulating the Springboks against old foes New Zealand never materialised as they suffered a bruising 61-37 defeat in their Quad Series match in Tauranga yesterday.
The defeat left Proteas coach Norma Plummer scratching her head as the team seemed to have erased almost all the gains from the last year or so.
“Well, we’re back to square one, it’s still a slight improvement - we used to lose by more than 30 goals, but this was 24 and that’s not good enough,” Plummer said in an honest assessment. “We got off to a bad start and were not able to recover from it.”
The South Africans were on the back-foot from the get-go as the Kiwis piled on the pressure in the opening quarter.
The Silver Ferns were in rampant form scoring 11 consecutive goals after the Proteas secured the opening point.
South Africa managed to find some sort of momentum but by the time the quarter ended they were trailing by an imposing 10 points (17-7).
It was a disjointed display by the Proteas who batlled in the mid-court battled to find their way to the edge of the circle and into the hands of goal-shooter Lenize Prinsloo.
To add insult to injury, goal attack Maryke Holtzhauzen battled to find her rhythm, landing only two of her seven shots at goal before she was replaced halfway into the second quarter.
The Kiwi defensive pair of Katrina Grant and Jane Watson made life difficult for South Africa to launch a real fightback.
South Africa generally struggled to get the ball to their shooters with Proteas coach Norma Plummer making early changes in the hope of turning their fortunes around.
The Proteas made some progress in the second quarter scoring 12 goals to the 13 by the Ferns with the home side going into the half-time break with a 30-19 advantage.
Ine-Mari Venter, who replaced Holtzhauzen added some height to the circle, where she did well landing five of her seven attempts before she retired hurt.
The bleeding continued unabated in the third quarter with the Kiwis adding 14 more points to the scoreboard with South Africa losing form conceding a host of penalties.
The Proteas were left a mountain to climb going into the final quarter with a 14-point deficit (44-30).
New Zealand showed their ruthless side as they kicked up a gear scoring 17 goals to the seven by the South Africans to claim a 24-point victory.
Potgieter finished with a 90 percent success shooting rate leaning 28 of her 31 shots but she did not get enough possession to keep South Africa in the game.
It was the team’s second heavy defeat of the Quad Series after they suffered a 61-44 loss to Australia over the weekend.
They will next come up against an in-form England Roses team in Melbourne on Sunday.