HOST nation South Africa would have mixed emotions at the end of the 2023 Netball World Cup. On one hand, the Proteas showed signs of development, including a draw with New Zealand and coming agonisingly close to a semi-finals spot. On the other hand though, the Proteas were unable to finish inside the top five following a heartbreaking two-goal loss to Uganda.
No doubt South Africa would have eyed off a top four finish and competing for a medal, and had the Proteas knocked off the Silver Ferns, they no doubt would have. Unfortunately for the African nation it not only had to settle for sixth, but also slipping to second overall from its continent.
Group C: 2nd (2-1, +48 goal difference)
defeated Wales by 11 goals (61-50)
defeated Sri Lanka by 55 goals (87-32)
lost to Jamaica by 18 goals (49-67)
Group G: 3rd (3-1-1, +36 goal difference)
defeated Trinidad & Tobago by 41 goals (69-28)
drew with New Zealand (48-48)
defeated Uganda by 2 goals (52-50)
5th-8th Placed Playoff:
defeated Tonga by 26 goals (72-46)
lost to Uganda by 2 goals (47-49)
The come-from-behind draw with reigning champions New Zealand was easily the highlight for the Proteas in an up-and-down tournament. Trailing by a goal at quarter time and five by the main break, it looked likely the home nation would suffer another loss at the hands of a top four team. Instead, the Proteas did not give in, fighting back to score 27 goals to 22 in the second half. Even when trailing by four goals with three minutes left, South Africa did not give up scoring five of the last six goals to draw level on the final whistle.
Goal attack Nichole Taljaard was strong, shooting 15 goals from 18 attempts, while also recording 10 goal assists from 15 feeds, one gain and one rebound. Elmere van der Berg (22 goals from 26 attempts) and Ine-Mari Venter (11 from 17) were the other key shooters. Izette Griesel (20 goal assists) did well in midcourt, while Phumza Maweni had a day out with eight gains, three deflections, three intercepts and one rebound.
It is tough to pick a standout at times, but Maweni really stood tall in some tough situations throughout the tournament. Often having to play on the most dangerous opposition shooter, Maweni had a team-high six defensive rebounds, as well as and equal team-high 23 deflections, and third most intercepts with 12.
Along with Maweni, the world class defender in Karla Pretorius also stepped up to the plate, finishing with 15 intercepts and 23 deflections. She provided crucial experience there, as did Bongi Msomi in midcourt for the Proteas. Up in the shooting circle, van der Berg shot 206 goals to really take the reins as the dominant goaler, while Venter (133 goals) and Taljaard (128) stepped up following Lenize Potgieter‘s injury early in the series.
South Africa would arguably come away a little disappointed in finishing sixth. Playing at home and hoping to squeeze into the semi-finals, the Proteas ultimately fell once place further by going down to continental rivals, Uganda. The Proteas did show plenty of fight however, and will be ones to watch in coming international tournaments.