Proteas Win 2015 Diamond Challenge

South Africa staged a memorable comeback to come from behind to edge out Malawi 40-35 in the Netball Diamond Challenge final in Margate on Friday.  Malawi raced to a 4-0 lead inside four minutes as the hosts struggled to find their feet.  Lenize Potgieter opened the scoring for the South Africans followed by another from Elsunet Du Plessis to reduce the deficit to just two.

However the Malawians continued to dominate as they continued on their way going further ahead at 7-4 with under five minutes left in the quarter with the hosts still chasing the game.  The Malawi Queens ended a dominant quarter outscoring their opponents by five goals to take the quarter 11-6.  In the second quarter Peace Kulawa’s side picked up where they left off getting the opening goal of the quarter.

The Proteas scored four times as they closed the gap to just three.  In the closing stages Norma Plummer’s ladies were able to claw their way back into the match reducing their opponents’ lead by winning leading the quarter 13-11 as half-time arrived with the score 22-19 in favour of the Malawians.  In the opening five minutes of the third quarter, the hosts drew level at 24 all as they began to find their feet and get into the game with some help from the home crowd too.

Malawi went ahead once more at 25-24 but the ladies in green and white drew level once more at 25-each.  Potgieter put them ahead by one goal with seven minutes to go at 26-25.  Their confidence rose and their pace increased as the quarter wore on. 

They went ahead by three as Potgieter converted to take the score to 28-25 to the delight of the lively home crowd.  Maryka Holtzhausen and her team staged an amazing comback as they scored 12 goals to move into the lead 31-26 at the end of the third quarter 31-26.  In the final fifteen of the match the tournament’s top scorer Potgieter extended her side’s lead to six before Joyce Mvula scored for the visitors.

There was some end to end play in the final quarter as both teams fought to gain control of the game.  At the end of it all it was the Proteas who managed to hold on to their lead and secured the tournament trophy with a 40-35 win.  South African goal shooter Lenize Potgieter was awarded the player of the match.

Photo by Reg Caldecott/Gallo Images