NWC2023: South Africa 61 – Wales 50
South Africa cleared the first hurdle in their Netball World Cup 2023 campaign when they beat Wales 61-50 at a packed CTICC in Cape Town.
The Welsh team didn’t only have to contend with the superiority of the Proteas on the court but also the deafening roar of the home crowd in the stands. There was cheering, dancing and singing throughout the 60-minute encounter that undoubtedly fuelled the home side’s determination to make their country proud.
Player of the tournament at the 2019 Netball World Cup in Liverpool Karla Pretorius made her 99th appearance for the Proteas and was in great form, putting her impressive defensive abilities on full display.
In the first two quarters, South Africa showed why they are fifth on the latest world rankings compared to Wales’ ninth position. They had the height advantage over their opponents as well as the speed and agility across court. The Proteas went into the lead 32-24, with IneMarie Venter having a stellar performance as goal shooter, finding the net time after time.
While most of the players settled well into their positions, Elmeré van der Berg seemed to struggle to find her feet. Welsh defenders Ella Powell-Davies and Christina Shaw pounced on Van der Berg’s nervousness, keeping her from making her mark on the big stage. Her shooting average of 50 per cent was clear evidence of that and she moved to the bench for
the final two quarters of the match, being replaced by Nichole Taljaard. Coach Norma Plummer also brought on Jeanté Strydom (for Shadine van der Merwe) who made her international debut for South Africa.
Wales didn’t make any substitutions until the third quarter with Nansi Kuti replacing Georgia Rowe at goal shooter. It was also Kuti’s debut for Wales. In the final stretch of the match, South Africa started pulling away. They used their status as one of the most experienced teams at the World Cup in terms of international caps and upped the tempo to completely shut out the Welsh and clinch an important victory on the first day of action.
Plummer was beaming with pride about Venter’s performance that saw her named the Most Valuable Player.
“Her growth has been phenomenal. She had outstanding shooting for us,” said Plummer.
“It was a win, not what I necessarily would call a convincing win. I thought our first quarter was sensational but then the Welsh notched it up in the second and third quarters. We started spraying balls and that was disappointing. There’s a lot of information that we now have and that we can use and work on.”
On Sunday, the Proteas face Jamaica who stacked 105 goals against Sri Lanka. Captain Bongi Msomi said they are not looking that far ahead.
“We are taking it day by day. Tomorrow it’s Sri Lanka. In 2019 we were in the same situation, anything can happen on any day. But first things first, and that’s tomorrow.”
Q2: 32-24 (14-15)
Q3: 47-37 (15-13)
Q4: 61-50 (14-13)
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Ine-Marie Venter (South Africa)