International netball update: South Africa sweeps UK nations

INTERNATIONAL test matches have continued over the weekend, with the South Africa Spar Proteas continuing their series in the United Kingdom and coming away with a clean sweep across their four tests. Add in the result of their comprehensive practice match against Northern Ireland, and the Spar Proteas have well and truly boosted their confidence and connections across the series of games as they begin to prepare for the 2022 Commonwealth Games. With hefty margins at the completion of their first two matches against the Republic of Ireland last week, the fifth-ranked nation was virtually unstoppable throughout the series, despite not quite reaching the same lofty standards against the higher ranked nations of Scotland (eighth), Wales (ninth) and Northern Ireland (11th).

An undermanned Scottish Thistles outfit fought hard against the Proteas, trailing by five goals at the first change and nine at the main break. But the Proteas well and truly stepped up in the third quarter and rode that momentum all the way home to come away with a solid 60-37 result. Despite the workrate of Thistles goal shooter Emma Barrie and returnee Claire Maxwell, the side lacked its experienced heads in attack as the Proteas, led by reliable midcourter Izette Griesel, ground down the side. For South Africa, it was the likes of Ine-Mari Venter and Griesel who stood up, with Venter piling on the offensive pressure at the post and well and truly taking advantage of the international court time.

While the fourth match the Spar Proteas played did not count as a test, both the South African squad and Northern Ireland Warriors utilised the opportunity to test out connections and try new options in a six quarter practice match. Despite both nations using the match as an opportunity for growth, it was still the South Africans that cam out on top in a comprehensive 125-43 result, steadily adding to their hefty goal margin as the match went on. Regardless of the final outcome, Northern Ireland duo Niamh Cooper and Maria McCann stood up well throughout the six 15 minute quarters, as developing South African defender Monique Reyneke showcased her smarts in a standout performance.

The final match of the Proteas’ UK tilt saw Wales put up another fight, before falling in a similar margin to the Thistles. Despite the end margin of 60-38, the Welsh squad did not make it easy for the South Africans with just a three goal margin and the first change extended to six at the main break, before the Proteas once again put the pedal to the metal in the third with a 15-8 quarter and showed no signs of fatigue running out the final 15 minutes of the series. Wales goaler Betsy Creak showcased her excellent development over the past year with a great outing, while South Africa showed its growing depth with a variety of strong performers capping off an excellent week.

Picture credit: Declan Roughan

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19 days ago

[…] NETBALL UPDATES: South Africa sweeps UK nations // Africa Netball Cup – Days 1-3 // Africa Netball Cup – Days 4-6 // Africa Netball Cup – […]