Proteas fight back to snatch draw with Silver Ferns

SOUTH Africa’s hopes of reaching the Netball World Cup semi-finals came agonisingly close of becoming a reality after chasing down New Zealand last night but finishing the match in a 48-goal apiece draw. Had South Africa defeated New Zealand, and Jamaica knocked off the Silver Ferns tomorrow, the Proteas would have likely advanced through to the next stage.

Instead, the Proteas split the points with New Zealand and somehow have to make up a 74-goal difference in the final round between the Silver Ferns and Jamaica, and the Proteas and Uganda clash. For the neutral though, the clash was a beauty and clearly the home side’s best of the tournament.

Leading from the 1:42 mark and never trailing from then on, the Silver Ferns looked likely to come away with an impressive win, leading by five goals at the main break. But the Proteas never gave in, and with the home crowd support pushed right to the line, scoring a goal with the final shot of the day to draw level and split the points.

For the second consecutive match, Nichole Taljaard won Player of the Match, shooting 15 goals from 18 attempts, as well as having 10 goal assists from 15 feeds, and working well with the two other shooters. Trailing by two goals in the 11th minute of the second term, the Proteas opted to swap Ine-Mari Venter (11 from 17) with Elmere van der Berg (22 from 26), as the young shooter held her own against the experienced Jane Watson who had replaced Kelly Jury in goal keeper.

Noeline Taurua tried to mix up plenty of matchups to get the upper hand during the contest, with Jury even coming on at wing defence a few minutes later, then switching into centre briefly before Maddy Gordon replaced her. Though New Zealand was always just on top, the Silver Ferns could not break away like many expected, and it was a worrying sign for the reigning Gold Medallists.

Instead, van der Berg kept putting pressure on the Silver Ferns though Maia Wilson was a consistent threat under the post. Her goal in the final seconds of the third term still put the margin at four goals, and the favourites looked likely to just get the job done. However, despite the Silver Ferns shooting three of the first four goals through Wilson and going out to a six-goal lead, the game would not be over.

The combination of Taljaard and van der Berg scored 10 of the last 13 goals in the match, to go from a six-goal deficit at the 7:38 minute mark, to drawing level on the buzzer. It was a bittersweet moment for South African fans who knew realistically, unless a miracle happens tomorrow night across both games, the Proteas were set to finish fifth again, though drawing with the Silver Ferns was still a fantastic achievement.

The shooters ultimately had more chances than their opponents and shot 48 goals from 61 attempts, the midcourt led by Izette Griesel (20 goal assists from 34 feeds) and the defensive work of Phumza Maweni (eight gains, three intercepts, three deflections and one rebound) and Karla Pretorius (three gains, two intercepts, three deflections and one rebound) also kept the opposition on its toes.

New Zealand had a more even spread, though Wilson (37 goals from 41 attempts) was the key reason why the Silver Ferns kept ahead despite eight less shots on goal. Ameliaranne Ekenasio (10 from 11) was also deadly when on the court, also having the eight goal assists from 11 feeds. Whitney Souness (11 goal assists) was busy in her time on court, while in defence, Karin Burger was a rock, picking up five intercepts, seven gains, two deflections and a rebound.


Jamaica had no trouble dishing out a massive victory over Trinidad & Tobago to crush the Calypso Girls by 63 goals. The Sunshine Girls scored at least 20 goals in each of the quarters, while keeping their opponents to single digits, en route to an 89-26 smashing.

Nicole Dixon-Rochester won Player of the Match for 25 goal assists, three gains, two intercepts and three deflections. Romelda Aiken-George gained valuable minutes as the key shooter with 38 goals from 43 attempts, as captain Jhaniele Fowler took a back seat and only played a quarter. Afeisha Noel did the bulk of the work for Trinidad & Tobago, shooting 20 goals from 22 attempts.

Meanwhile Sri Lanka caused a boilover against Barbados to incredibly pick up its first win of the Netball World Cup against Barbados by four goals. The Sri Lankans went down to Singapore and looked likely to notch up another loss after the Bajan Gems scored 22 goals to 13 in the third term to open up a five-goal lead at the final break. Sri Lanka had other ideas though, shooting 17 goals to eight to race to a memorable 60-56 win and ensure each Netball World Cup nation had a win this year.

Sri Lanka’s Dulangi Wannithileka won Player of the Match, shooting at 100 per cent from her four attempts, while having 14 goal assists from 25 feeds and working hard around the circle. Thishala Algama piled on 47 goals from 50 attempts, while Semini Alwis also shot at 100 per cent from her nine attempts, and had 15 goal assists. For Barbados, Kadeen Corbin (27 goals from 31 attempts, 11 goal assists and four rebounds) tried hard, as did Amanda Knight (three intercepts, three gains and one deflection).

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