JOHANNESBURG – A tenacious Proteas side were unlucky to lose to New Zealand 62-60 with the match decided on golden goals at the end of extra time in the Netball Quad Series in London on Sunday.
The South Africans were close to causing a stunning upset over New Zealand which would have been their first victory over the Silver Ferns in 24 years.
The contest was forced into extra time after the two teams were level on 45-45 after regulation time.
The stalemate remained at the end of extra time, with a two-goal advantage deciding the winners in the golden goal period.
The Proteas, ranked fifth in the world, last beat New Zealand at the 1995 World Championships in Birmingham where they booked a place in the final losing to Australia for the silver medal.
The Proteas clawed their way back from an eight-point deficit in the first quarter to take the lead for the first time in the match early in the final period.
They were some nervous moments in the first quarter with the New Zealanders opening a five-point gap.
South African coach Norma Plummer started with Lenize Potgieter at goal attack and Ine-Mari Venter at goal shooter, but the combination did not quite click in the opening minutes.
That saw SA trail by eight points at one stage, before Plummer replaced Venter with stalwart Maryka Hotzhausen.
The tried combination and superb defensive effort saw the South Africans claw their way back into the match.
They played with greater aggression in the second period to reduce the deficit to two points (22-20) going into the halftime break.
With just seconds to go to the end of the third quarter, Potgieter slotted the goal to draw the scores level on 34-34.
The teams went goal to goal before the first hour of netball finished with the scores level, resulting in a dramatic end.@ockertde