JOHANNESBURG - They may have suffered consecutive defeats to New Zealand and Australia but the Proteas team is making serious inroads in upsetting the status quo in international netball.
After getting within seven goals of the New Zealand Silver Ferns in their opening SANZEA Quad Series match, South Africa's national team came painstakingly close to upsetting the world No 1 Aussies in Canberra on Thursday.
The Proteas put up their best performance against Australia since 1967 with only seven goals separating them from a victory. Losing by six points, the Proteas matched their previous lowest losing margin against the Australian Diamonds from 1967. South Africa clawed their way back into the match after trailing the Aussies 7-1 after only five minutes.
Reducing the deficit to three points after the first quarter, the South Africans turned in a dominant performance in the next period to level the scores 27-all going into the half-time break.
Wing attack Bongi Msomi and centre Erin Burger combined well to get the ball to the circle with South Africa winning the second quarter 16 goals to 13.
Goal-shooter Lenize Potgieter was at the top of her game as she succeeded with 12 of 13 attempts at goal while goal attack Maryke Holtzhausen claimed a 100 percent success rate in the quarter.
The third quarter belonged to the Diamonds as they went into the decisive 15 minutes with a five-goal advantage. The Aussies stretched the lead to nine points but the Proteas turned in a valiant fightback to get to within six points.
“We’re very proud of what we achieved today,” said captain Msomi. “We came here to perform and to do well as a team. We have now proved that we can compete with the best in the world and we are looking forward to our next match, against England, in New Zealand on Sunday.”
Earlier, the England Roses caused an upset when they beat World Cup silver medallists New Zealand 49-45 after trailing 26-23 at half-time.