SA coach Norma Plummer has put her payers through their paces. Picture supplied.
Proteas coach, Norma Plummer, summed up last week’s Diamond Netball Challenge in Limpopo, saying: “I put our girls under a lot of pressure because I was introducing new strategies and tactics, and I wanted to see how they implemented them on the court.

“Some of them came off really well but they struggled a bit with others.

“I’m trying to make them self-sufficient in pressure situations and I’m satisfied where they are now, ahead of the sixth Quad Series to be played in England next January, exactly six months ahead of the 2019 Netball World Cup.”

The Proteas were always in command in their defence of last week’s Challenge title which saw them complete the five-match tournament in style with a 73-44 victory over Zimbabwe.

SA captain, Bongi Msomi, who was named “Player of the Tournament”, shared her thoughts with the media, saying: “It’s such a good feeling. The scoreline doesn’t really mean much. What’s more important is what we put out on the court.”

“We weren’t satisfied with what we did so the plan was to go out hard and implement our strategies .It’s been really amazing and there’s always room to grow. But this was a great performance. I’m really proud of the girls.”

The win against Zimbabwe made it five out of five for the Proteas who dominated the tournament. But despite being given a tough challenge by Zambia and Zimbabwe, the South Africans managed to win all five games by more than 20 goals.

Zambia claimed their third win of the tournament with a 68-36 victory over Namibia’s Desert Jewels. who failed to win a game.

As a result the Zambians finished in second place, with Zimbabwe taking the bronze medals.

The Zimbabwe team fought hard against the Proteas, and put up some stout defence, but the Proteas still managed to notch up a 17-9 lead by the end of the first quarter. But mistakes began creeping into the Zimbabwean midcourt play and the turnover count continued to rise thanks to an outstanding performance by Proteas goal defence, Karla Pretorius.

Half-time was reached at 34-18, and while the third period was a far tighter one (17 goals to 15) the Proteas ran away with it in the final 15 minutes, regularly earning more turnovers and being too quick on the counter for the Zimbabweans, which meant they were able to open up the winning margin.

The following awards were made at the conclusion of the tournament:

Player of the Tournament: Bongi Msomi (South Africa)

Best Centre Court Player: Romé Dreyer (South Africa)

Best Shooter: Diana Banda (Zambia)

Best Defender: Pumza Maweni (South Africa)

* THERE are some major surprises in the latest list of world rankings released recently by the International Netball Federation (INF) with three African countries ranked in the top 10 for the first time - South Africa at five, Malawi at six, and Uganda at seven.

It is 10 years since the INF introduced their system of world rankings back in 2008 when South Africa made its first appearance ranked in ninth position and the number of countries that were ranked has risen from 22 in 2008 to 40 today. But the Proteas have been making steady progress up the rankings since then and have at last overtaken Malawi, their chief African rivals.

It is interesting to note that the top four teams have remained virtually unchanged over the past decade with Australia leading the rankings, New Zealand second, England third and Jamaica fourth.

Latest rankings: 1 Australia, 2 New Zealand, 3 England, 4 Jamaica, 5 South Africa, 6 Malawi, 7 Wales, 8 Fiji, 9 Uganda, 10 Northern Ireland, 11 Barbados, 12 Scotland, 13 Trinidad & Barbados, 14 Samoa, 15 Zimbabwe, 16 Zambia, 17 Papua New Guinea, 18 St Lucia, 19 Singapore, 20 Malaysia

Independent on Saturday

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