JOHANNESBURG – South Africa squandered an early advantage suffering a 62-45 defeat to world number one Australia in the Netball Quad Series in Liverpool yesterday.
The scoreline was nearly identical to the 61-44 loss from their previous encounter, but is hardly a reflection of how close it was in the first three quarters.
Last year’s 54-50 defeat in London was SA’s smallest losing margin in 39 matches against the Australians.
The Proteas made a strong start to the match taking a 16-11 lead after the first quarter with the defensive duo of Phumza Maweni and Carla Pretorius playing out of their skins.
SA were in hot form both sides of the court with the shooting combination of Lenize Potgieter and Maryka Holtzhausen not missing a shot at goal in the first period.
But the Australians managed to recover from the initial shock to level the scores towards the end of the quarter.
The Australia Diamonds did well to wipe out SA’s five-point advantage taking a 27-25 lead into the halftime break.
SA coach Norma Plummer made a few personnel changes ahead of the second half with Ine-Marie Venter replacing Holtzhausen, with Potgieter shifting from shooter to goal attack.
The Proteas clawed their way back five minutes into the half before letting it slip again with Australia extending their advantage to five points after three quarters (43-38).
SA’s shooting accuracy started to slip in the last two quarters allowing Australia to extend their lead.
Plummer will be unhappy with the way her charges let a golden opportunity to claim their first victory over Australia go to waste.
The lack of depth will still be giving Plummer headaches ahead of the Netball World Cup in Liverpool in July.
The Australians stepped up a gear in the final quarter opening daylight on the scoreboard, adding 19 goals while the Proteas could only add seven.
SA will next face Commonwealth champions England in London on Saturday.