Silver Ferns survive thriller to earn third
NEW ZEALAND Silver Ferns have survived a second half comeback from South Africa to ensure they grabbed third spot at the 2022 Quad Series. Having beaten the Proteas the day before, the world number two Silver Ferns were favourites for the clash, but never had it easy. Despite leading throughout the first half, the Proteas hit back to win the third term and lead in the opening couple of minutes in the early stages of the fourth, before New Zealand went on to win by one goal, 51-50.
Though it was not quite the same anticipation as the Gold Medal Match between England and Australia, the Silver Ferns were determined to finish the tournament on a high. Kayla Johnson and Kelly Jury were picked as the defensive combination, with Maia Wilson back at goal shooter alongside Tiana Metuarau. South African Nicola Smith was chosen for the final, with the youngster starting for the first time alongside Tshina Mdau.
The first term belonged to Wilson who scored all of the Silver Ferns’ 14 goals. Gina Crampton was absolutely superb in wing attack with eight goal assists from 11 feeds, whilst Claire Kersten was impressive in centre against Bongi Msomi. On her birthday, the Proteas captain stepped up herself to ensure South Africa remained close, recording six goal assists from nine feeds, whilst Izette Griesel started strongly with three goal assists and an intercept. Ine-Mari Venter did not miss from her 11 attempts. The only change during the quarter was Monique Reyneke coming off in favour of Khanyisa Chawane to try and combat Crampton.
Despite trailing – albeit only by a goal – the South Africans had more time in possession (52 to 48 per cent) and had three less penalties (11-14). That changed in the second term, with the Proteas defence becoming much more physical. Sulu Fitzpatrick replaced Jury at goal keeper, with Phoenix Karaka also coming on for Johnson midway through the term. Simoné Rabie replaced Smith at the start of the term, only for the pair to rotate again in the final few minutes.
Committing 16 penalties to six – Msomi had six herself – the Proteas faded towards the end of the term, with Wilson scoring three consecutive goals to open up a four-goal advantage late in the half. Lefébre Rademan scored a buzzer-beating fifth goal to cut the deficit back to three at the main break.
Rademan had an impressive term for the Proteas with five goals from eight attempts and three goal assists. Venter scored seven goals to make it 18 goals at 100 per cent efficiency heading into half-time. Msomi – despite the penalties – had another five goal assists from eight feeds. Wilson scored 10 goals from 11 attempts, with Kersten (six goal assists) and Crampton (five) both lively again. Metuarau could also not be faulted for her four goals from four attempts, and three goal assists from three feeds. At half-time, the Silver Ferns lead by three goals, 28-25
Both nations headed into the second half with no change from the previous quarter. The Silver Ferns scored the first goal to go up by four, but then South Africa enjoyed a run of three consecutive goals to cut the deficit back to one. From there, the Silver Ferns were under the most pressure they had felt from the Proteas in either game. After Wilson scored back-to-back goals to answer that of Venter’s effort and put the Silver Ferns up by that margin, the South Africans piled on six of the next seven goals to race to a three-goal lead themselves. Wilson and Metuarau steadied to score four of the final six goals, but still trailed by a goal at the final break. Luckily for New Zealand, Rademan could not repeat her efforts of the second term with a last second goal, just missing.
Venter was a deadeye yet again with 11 goals from 11 attempts, while Rademan managed three of five. Griesel was having a strong game with seven goal assists from 13 feeds, whilst Msomi managed five from seven. In defence, Smith showcased her abilities for the future. For the Silver Ferns, Wilson scored seven goals from eight attempts, while Metuarau managed three from four, as well as four goal assists from five feeds. Crampton, though not as influential as the first half, still had four goal assists from nine feeds. Both Burget and Karaka picked up an intercept in the term.
Yet again both teams chose to stay the course with their lineups heading into the fourth, as they engaged in terrifically close battle throughout the term. At one stage, Wilson and Metuarau poured on five consecutive goals to go from 41-42 to 46-42. When they managed to get a four-goal lead with less than five minutes on the clock, it looked as if they would run away with it. The South Africans had other ideas and piled on three consecutive goals to cut the deficit back to three. A miss from Wilson looked like it might be costly, but Metuarau stepped up to score with two minutes on the clock, and the lead now at two goals. Though they kept pressing right until the final whistle when Venter cut the deficit back to one, the South Africans just fell shot 13-11 in the term, and the Silver Ferns won, 51-50.
Wilson scored eight goals from 11 attempts, working well with Metuarau (five goals from five attempts and four goal assists). Kersten and Crampton both had four goal assists in the term, with the former, and Karaka picking up an intercept for their troubles. Smith was still working hard for the Proteas, as Venter (six goals from seven attempts) and Rademan (five from six ) kept the scoreboard ticking over. Phumza Maweni played her best quarter of the match pressuring Wilson, whilst also picking up an intercept.
CLOSING THOUGHTS …
Kersten came away with the Player of the Match honours, picking up 15 goal assists from 29 feeds. She also had an equal team-high three gains and two assists, with only two turnovers for the match. She was a key member of the stable mid and front court setups, with Crampton (21 goal assists from 38 feeds) her partner-in-crime. Wilson scored 39 goals from 44 attempts at 88.6 per cent accuracy in the end, while Metuarau managed 12 from 14 at 85.7. Karaka was steadfast in defence with three gains, two intercepts and a rebound.
For the Proteas, Venter was deadly with 35 of 36 at 97.2 per cent efficiency, whilst Rademan managed 15 of 21 at 71.4 per cent. She also had seven goal assists from all of her seven feeds. Msomi (19 goal assists from 29 feeds) and Griesel (16 from 38, as well as a gain and an intercept) worked hard in midcourt, while Maweni (two gains and two intercepts) and Smith (two gains and two rebounds) paired up well in defence.
GS: Maia Wilson
GA: Tiana Metuarau
WA: Gina Crampton
C: Claire Kersten
WD: Karin Burger
GD: Kayla Johnson
GK: Kelly Jury
GS: Ine-Mari Venter
GA: Lefebre Rademan
WA: Izette Griesel
C: Bongiwe Msomi
WD: Tshina Mdau
GD: Nicola Smith
GK: Phumza Maweni