There was no stopping South Africa’s gallant Spar Proteas as they wrapped a series win over Scotland’s Thistles with a 41-25 triumph in the second Test at the Bellville Velodrome, in Cape Town, on Friday night. The Proteas recorded a 56-29 win in Thursday’s first Test and Friday night’s effort put the three-Test netball series beyond the visiting Thistles. The final Test will be played on Saturday (start 15:00) at the same venue.
Both countries used the series to wrap up their preparations for their netball campaign at next month’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland. After their auspicious first Test win, it was important for the Proteas side to make their own statement of intent by maintaining their impressive form. They did so in style as they snatched their first goal in under a minute but then their play became an incredibly scrappy affair with turnovers becoming more and more frequent.
Scotland capitalized heavily and six minutes into the game they ran up a 6-4 lead. The situation called for the Proteas to be more ball cautious and accurate in attack but the fight back became more complex as the Thistles varied their game somewhat. The Proteas managed to wrest the initiative in midcourt and gradually gained the upper hand as the teams traded goal-for-goal and by the end of the first quarter the hosts were marginally ahead 9-8.
The first half of the second quarter was a comparatively low scoring affair for both sides mainly as a result of sporadic and injudicious passes that lead numerous turnovers. Once the Proteas managed to close down space and force the Thistles to play backwards they started imposing themselves and enjoyed a strong passage of play which earned them a prolific scoring streak with six unanswered goals.
Scotland closed out the quarter strongly to stay in touch with the Proteas who managed a 19-15 halftime lead. One of the stand-out players for the Proteas was new cap, the 20-year-old Lenise Potgieter, who was ruthless in the scoring circle and that accounted for the South Africa’s admirable 83% goal advantage at the break. After the restart, the Proteas protected their spaces rather effectively and this helped to stifle tourists’ attacking intent.
The turn-over count started going the Proteas’ way and four minutes into the third quarter they managed to open up a 23-19 lead. The score sheet advance seemed to inject a greater sense of urgency in Proteas’ play and as they upped the tempo their pace proved too hard to contain. By the time the third quarter ended the Proteas had managed to open a six-goal lead (26-20), which will prove to be a handy cushion for the final 15-minute flurry.
The 6th world-ranked Proteas did enough in the opening minutes of the final quarter to take the match away from their 12th world-ranked opponents and five minutes later the 26-20 score line jumped to 35-23, for a 12-goal margin. In the dying minutes, the Proteas showed signs of good movement and fluent passing moves as the Thistles showed signs of wilting under the pressure. The South Africa closed out the Test at 41-25 to wrap up the second Test and the series, with one Test to go.
Photo credit: Reg Caldecott