South Africa star against Malawi

WITH limited international netball this year given the COVID-19 pandemic, it did not stop the SPAR Challenge Test series between South Africa and Malawi from getting underway – providing netball fans with some much needed matchplay. South Africa made a clean sweep of the Queens who were without lynchpin Mwai Kumwenda under the post but still put up a strong effort and allowed for some fresh faces to step up to the plate.

Game 1

South Africa kicked off their campaign in style notching up a strong 40-goal win against Malawi (65-25) credit to their strong defensive pressure and plethora of options inside the goal circle. It was mostly one-way traffic with South Africa exploiting Malawi’s inexperience and most importantly limiting their options under the post. The Proteas raced out to a handy lead at the first break and steadily built on it by half time with the Queens staring down the barrel of a 22-goal deficit at half time alone. Unfortunately they had no answers for the Spar Proteas despite both sides making a host of changes throughout the second half to test out new combinations across the court. The Queens had their best term in the final quarter piling on nine goals however that did not impact the scoreboard too much given the Proteas managed 17 goals of their own to run out comprehensive victors.

A couple of familiar faces suited up for the SPAR Proteas with the likes of Sunshine Coast Lightning goal keeper Phumza Maweni leading the way down back with her impressive court coverage and sticky hands stopping the ball from entering into the defensive circle with ease. She partnered up with Adelaide Thunderbirds representative Shadine van der Merwe who, while in the SSN spends most of her time out in wing defence, proved to be a real force to be reckoned with inside the defensive circle credit to her ball tracking abilities and dogged style of defence. Ine Mari-Venter starred under the post for South Africa notching up an impressive 28 goals from 30 attempts at 93 per cent while Lenize Potgieter also weaved her magic recording 19 goals from 21 attempts at 90 per cent. This game also marked an exciting milestone for the likes of Kamogelo Maseko and Tshina Mdau who both made their international debuts. For Malawi, Sindi Simtowe paved the way doing the most damage under the post with 14 goals from 22 attempts at 64 per cent while Mary Nyirenda managed three goals at 100 per cent but would be hoping to up the ante.

South Africa 65/72 90%
Malawi 25/36 69%

Lenize Potgieter 19/21 90%
Lefebre Rademan 15/17 88%
Ine-Mari Venter 28/30 93%
Kamogelo Maseko 3/4 75%

Sindi Simtowe 14/22 64%
Jessie Mazengera 4/5 80%
Tendai Masamba 4/6 67%
Mary Nyirenda 3/3 100%


Game 2

Despite coming out strong in the opening quarter of play the Malawi Queens simply could not sustain their high level of intensity as South Africa powered to a 62-29 win. Both sides made a couple of changes from their previous outing but that did not seem to impact the outcome with the SPAR Proteas showcasing their array of talent and ability to capitalise on each opportunity that came their way. Although scoring did not seem to be an issue for the home side, the Queens upped the ante across the court contesting every ball and applying pressure on the established connections to force the Proteas to labour and think their way down the court. By half time South Africa well and truly had the game on their own terms, creating a 20 goal buffer and did not let their foot off the throat for the remainder of the game. holding a handy lead the Proteas were not afraid to bring in the changes with a couple more debutantes taking the court and not skipping a beat in defender Nicola Smith and Sikholiwe Mdletshe.

Potgieter was once again a menace under the post, earning player of the match honours thanks to her 100 per cent shooting performance, nailing 32 goals straight. Renowned for her strength under the post in goal shooter, Potgieter found herself out in goal attack for patches and did not look back credit to her increased stamina and high netball IQ to have a profound areas across the court. Bongi Msomi was her usual energetic and zippy self lighting up the court with her drives, quick feet and lightning hands to deliver under the post. For Malawi, Bridget Kumwenda had a strong presence out in wing attack feeding the ball well and using her spatial awareness to try and create some separation while Towera Vinkhumbo had her work cut out for her up against the South African shooters.

South Africa 18/19 94%
Malawi 7/8 87%
South Africa 17/19 89%
Malawi 8/9 88%
South Africa 16/18 88%
Malawi 6/6 100%
South Africa 11/17 64%
Malawi 8/12 66%

South Africa 62/73 84%
Malawi 29/35 82%


Game 3

With the series won and done that did not stop the SPAR Proteas from throwing everything they had at Malawi amassing a record-breaking 41 goal victory (69-28). The Proteas were on from the opening minute while the Queens struggled to combat the fast paced and well-oiled machine that was South Africa. It was a physical battle to start proceedings with both sides not willing to give an inch before things kicked into gear for the Proteas and they managed to open up a narrow five goal lead. Coming off a close opening term South Africa piled on the pressure in the second term nailing 22 goals and converting at an impressive 92 per cent highlighting just how much damage they can do when they get going. Unfortunately for the Queens things did not get much better as the Proteas continued their merry way, finding easy avenues to goal and most importantly making the most of their opportunities with repeated chances.

Defensively the Proteas were sound once again with van der Merwe and Maweni combining effortlessly inside the defensive circle to nullify the influence of the likes of Simtowe and Jessie Mazenger. The starting combination of Potgieter and Lefébre Rademan was once again strong with the two carving up the court and doing damage on the scoreboard thanks to their impressive range and ability to find the post.

At the end of the series, Malawi coach Peace Chawinga-Kaluwa highlighted her disappointment, unable to register a single win across the series but also noted the importance and value of being able to get out on court and test the combinations.

“We are grateful to have played some international netball but when we go home we know that we have to make sure the players don’t remain idle, but that they keep fit for action. “The lack of match fitness was a problem, and they were unable to take the momentum through to the later stages of the match,” she said.

South Africa 14/15 93%
Malawi 9/11 81%

South Africa 22/24 92%
Malawi 7/11 63%

South Africa 20/23 86%
Malawi 4/6 66%

South Africa 13/18 72%
Malawi 8/11 72%

South Africa 69/80 86%
Malawi 28/39 71%

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