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Sat Apr 19 16:46:19 SAST 2014

South Africa clinch netball series

Sapa | 11 July, 2012 07:320 Comments
2nd SPAR Netball Challenge Test: SA v Northern Ireland
Aneret Viljoen from South Africa (left) and Oonagh McCullough compete for the ball during the 2nd SPAR Netball Challenge test match between South Africa and Northern Ireland at Goodhope Centre on July 10, 2012 in Cape Town
Image by: Reg Caldecott / Gallo Images

South Africa outclassed Northern Ireland 66-42 in the second Netball Challenge Test Series at the Good Hope Centre in Cape Town on Tuesday, to clinch the series.

The Proteas led 35-19 at halftime.

The hosts dominated in all areas, but were particularly successful in defence, with Amanda Mynhardt and Aneret Viljoen keeping the Northern Irish shooters in check.

At no stage did the visitors look like posing a threat, and South Africa succeeded in turning over the ball on a regular basis.

Coach Elize Kotze made the most of the versatility of her players, starting the match with centre court player Erin Burger at goal attack and Bongiwe Msomi at centre.

She made several changes at halftime, replacing Burger and Chrisna Bootha with Maryka Holtzhausen and Claudia Basson, and returning Burger to centre.

Basson and Holtzhausen kept the goals coming, but at the other end of the court, Northern Ireland began scoring after Viljoen was replaced at goal defence by Karla Mostert.   They were only four goals behind at one point during the third quarter, and three behind in the final 15 minutes.

Precious Mthembu, making her way back after a long absence through injury, played a pivotal role at wing defence, earning herself the player of the match award.   It was the first time since her return that she played for the entire match.

“It’s awesome to be back,” said the former Proteas’ vice-captain. “It’s wonderful to be back with the team, who have made me feel very welcome. I believe that if you are given the bib, you have to work hard to honour it.”  Kotze was pleased with the outcome of the match.

“I was happy once again to be able to play all the members of the squad, and I was extremely happy to have Precious on for the full hour,” she said.

She had decided to open with Burger at goal attack because she believed in setting players new challenges.  

“Erin has completely mastered the centre court,” she said. “She can shoot well, and once she has confidence in her shooting abilities, I think she will be world class in that area as well.”  Burger was named Player of the Tournament at the World Netball Championships in Singapore last year.

Northern Ireland coach Jill McIntosh said she was disappointed that her team had not been able to reduce the margin of victory, after also losing by 24 goals on Monday. 

“But the players are learning all the time,” she said.   Earlier in the evening, South Africa Under21 beat England Under 21 by 56 goals to 31.

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