UGANDA has turned the tables on South Africa at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, defeating the SPAR Proteas by six goals in a memorable playoff victory to secure fifth spot. In just their second Commonwealth Games, the She Cranes again found themselves facing South Africa in the fifth placed playoff, but this time would be different. Unlike the 11-goal loss in 2018, Uganda would secure a 54-48 victory off the back of a superb first half, and then holding its nerve to post a 54-48 win and recording the best finishing spot in the nation’s history.
SOUTH AFRICA 13 | 8 | 16 | 11 (48)
UGANDA 15 | 15 | 11 | 13 (54)
Uganda has finished a nation-high fifth after taking down highly touted South Africa by six goals in the fifth placed playoff at the Commonwealth Games. In just their second appearance at the Commonwealth Games – and fourth between the Games and the World Cup – the She Cranes produced their best effort yet, having upstaged Malawi in the final match of the Pool to win through to the playoff, and then storming to an early lead to set up the victory.
The combination of Mary Cholhok and Irene Eyaru had held the She Cranes scoring up this tournament and it was no different in the playoff, with the pair damaging from the get-go. Uganda kept its same starting seven throughout the match, as it took a two-goal lead into the first break, and then a nine-goal advantage into half-time. South Africa could not seemingly find the answers, with Lefébre Rademan coming on for youngster Elmere van der Berg in the second term to mix up the shooting circle, while Izette Griesel replaced Khanyisa Chawane in the midcourt as Uganda piled on six out of seven goals in that time and it did get out to as much as a 10-goal bugger at one stage.
Captain Bongi Msomi and Zanele Vimbela were boldly replaced by Chawayne and Tshina Mdau to start the second half, and though the margin stay at 10 goals throughout the first six minutes, a return to the starting shooting circle turned the contest. At one point, van der Berg shot three consecutive goals to cut the deficit back to five with two and a half minutes to play in the third, and then the steadying hand of Ine-Mari Venter made it a four-goal ball game at the final break.
The Proteas kept coming in the early stages of the fourth, closing the game gap to three goals, with Uganda making a chance as Shadiah Nassanga came on for Eyaru. That seemed to help as the She Cranes stemmed the momentum and the teams traded goal for the goal for the last half of the final term, resulting in a 54-48 victory to Uganda. Cholhok had finished with 31 goals from 35 attempts, as Eyaru had 21 from 24. Nassanga shot two goals at 100 per cent in seven minutes, but also had three goal assists in that time.
Stella Oyella was sensational at wing attack across the 60 minutes, recording 21 goal assists from 29 feeds and having a gain and an intercept as well. Jesca Achan had a gain and an intercept playing three quarters in centre, while in defence, Shaffie Nalwanja recorded three gains, two intercepts and seven deflections in the win, playing well against Venter.
For South Africa, Venter scored 25 goals from 29 attempts and had five goal assists, one gain and one intercept in the loss. Rademan came on for six goals from seven attempts, while young gun van der Berg helped herself to 17 goals from 18 attempts, but also managed four goal assists from five feeds, two deflections and two rebounds. In midcourt, Griesel had 15 goal assists from 18 feeds, while Msomi had 11 from 13, as well as a deflection and a gain. Shadine Van der Merwe was rock solid in the back third with four gains, two intercepts and her nation’s only defensive rebound.