Netball Proteas captain Bongiwe Msomi says that it’s just a matter of time before the South Africans start learning to finish off games. Photo: EPA

A second consecutive victory over the England Roses today would be the perfect shot in the arm the Proteas netball team need ahead of the Commonwealth Games in Australia in April.

The Proteas are riding a wave of confidence dating back to last year’s 54-51 victory over the English while they have also come close to beating the world’s top two sides, Australia and New Zealand.

Last weekend’s four-point defeat to the Aussies was their smallest losing margin ever while the Silver Ferns’ 51-46 victory was the lowest over the Proteas since 1995.

Former Australian coach and South African mentor Norma Plummer said her charges were slowly but surely closing the gap between the top three sides in the world and hoped her team would climb to fourth place this year. “I’ve got to raise the fact that it was a seven-point loss the last time and it is only five this time,” Plummer said.

“It is getting closer so we’ve got to learn how to finish off, and these are sensational Commonwealth Games preparation games for us.

“So now when we go into the Games there is no guessing what is going to happen. It is all out on the floor and I think the players know and understand.”

The Proteas will have an eighth player on the court with the Ellis Park Indoor Arena selling out for today’s encounter between the sides (2.30pm). The match will be preceded by a clash between New Zealand and Australia.

But it will be anything but a walk in the park for the home side with the Roses posing tough opposition despite their last defeat to the Proteas.

They will come into the match buoyed by their victory over New Zealand on the home leg of the Netball Quad Series last weekend.

The third-ranked England side fell to Australia in England but came within four points of beating the world champions.

Plummer heaped praised on her team after their close encounter with the Kiwis on Thursday night crediting the Quad Series for giving the players the opportunity to gauge themselves against the three best sides in the world.

Team captain Bongiwe Msomi was disappointed with their narrow loss to New Zealand but believes the experience will hold them in good stead as they aim to climb to the top of the ladder.

“We are number five in the world and we were playing number two (NZ) but we have seen where we are going and we believe that win will come sooner rather than later,” Msomi said.

Plummer said playing the top sides in the world only strengthened their resolve to beat the best and ultimately become

"So a win this weekend against the English will be one more big step along the way  us experiencing the intensity of playing the best. It’s been a fantastic journey.”

Sunday Independent

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