Beating New Zealand Was Never The Priority

Netball Proteas coach Norma Plummer says that winning against New Zealand was never the priority.  The experience of playing the world number two Silver Ferns was far more important on the eve of the World Cup to be played in Sydney next month.  Experimentation was again the focus as South Africa, like the New Zealanders, used their final hit out before the World Cup to further assess various combinations during the second of two tests played at the Trusts Arena in Auckland on Tuesday.

Just 10 days out from South Africa’s opening World Cup match against Malawi in Sydney, Plummer’s charges struggled against a dominating Kiwis outfit that gave their full 12-strong squad a run and convincingly beat the tourists 67-28 for the second time in three days.  In the final quarter the visitors were only able to score four goals which was of concern to Plummer.   She says:  ‘I’m a little concerned about the fitness of my team.  We have time to work on that and make sure that all the girls are in shape come Sydney.  After just three weeks of working with the girls I have learnt their likes and dislikes and told the Proteas going into tonight’s test they had nothing to lose.’

Plummer admitted that she and her players learnt more from today’s test compared to the Sunday test in Hamilton:  ‘We had a decent first half tonight but lacked the consistency which we will need to work on.  The talent is there it just now needs to stand up.  We will get there.  I reiterate I wish I could have worked longer with the Spar Proteas but haven’t had the luxury of doing so but my coaching staff and I will put in every effort over the next few days to install as much knowledge into the team so that they can improve to another level or two.’

Despite her side inflicting the heavy defeat on the Proteas, New Zealand coach Waimarama Taumaunu gave full praise to her opposition, saying:  ‘South Africa have made a significant improvement since we last played them in 2012.  Their ball retention has vastly improved and they have a talented team especially the goal shooter Lenize Potgieter.  South Africa will be a force to be reckoned with in Sydney.’  The Proteas will now remain in Auckland for an intensive training camp until the depart for Sydney on Monday.

Photo credit: Michael Bradley/Netball New Zealand