2022 Commonwealth Games review: South Africa
AS the curtain closes on another Commonwealth Games, we take a look back at how each of the netballing nations fared in our team-by-team review series. Next up is South Africa, a nation that came into the Commonwealth Games with high hopes despite missing key shooter Lenize Potgieter due to injury, but could not overcome the other Top 5 nations in its Pool, then fell to Uganda in the fifth placed playoff to have to settle for sixth overall.
GAMES AT A GANDER
South Africa entered the Games with a tough first-up challenge against Jamaica, and went down by 19 goals. A much easier outing against the lowest ranked nation in Barbados saw the SPAR Proteas come away with a romping 55-goal win, before being sent back to earth via a 25-goal loss to Australia the next day. After a day off to refresh for the remaining two group matches against the British sides, South Africa took care of business against Wales, recording an 18-goal victory, before closing out Pool A with a 19-goal win over Scotland. Thus far, none of their games – win or lose – had been particularly close, with that soon to change in the fifth placed playoff against Uganda. South Africa went in as favourites given its history over the last decade, but fell short, going down in a six-goal thriller to the She Cranes, and ending up in sixth overall.
South Africa had a number of standouts during the games, and the main one will be highlighted in the future talents. Of those known players coming into the Games, Ine-Mari Venter stepped up in the absence of Potgieter as that experienced shooter, scoring 175 goals from 199 attempts, also having 21 goal assists from 21 feeds. In defence, Phumza Maweni was ridiculous, with the 37-year-old pulling in seven intercepts, five rebounds and 23 deflections across the tournament. Leader and midcourter Bongi Msomi had 82 goal assists from 104 feeds, as well as three intercepts and three deflections, while she was well supported by Izette Griesel (51 goal assists from 104 feeds, two intercepts and three deflections) and Khanyisa Chawane (62 goal assists from 126 feeds).
Arguably the most impressive player born this century at the Commonwealth Games, South Africa unearthed a gem in Elmere van der Berg. The shooting talent – who played at both goal attack and goal shooter, fired off 139 goals from 148 attempts, as well as had 22 goal assists from 25 feeds and six rebounds. The 21-year-old is a player many were calling for to play in the Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) and with the natural talent she has, it is easy to see why. Aside from van der Berg, Nicola Smith (22 years-old) also played all six games, recording seven rebounds, five intercepts and 17 deflections as a rotational option in the defensive circle.
South Africa would have hoped to have finished higher than they did at the Commonwealth Games, but in saying that, they were able to showcase the abilities of van der Berg in the absence of Potgieter. Though they do have some key players who are coming into the twilight of their careers, the SPAR Proteas can develop the next group of players and begin rebuilding the African nation back to its prime.