By Netball World Cup
South Africa came through a testing tie against Uganda to confirm the 2019 Vitality Netball World Cup semi-final line-up tonight.
Their 67-40 win ensures that the Proteas and England join Australia and New Zealand in the last four.
A strong middle phase of the game from Uganda narrowed the early gap that South Africa had established, but the Proteas’ ability to snatch possession and punish errors ultimately resulted in a comfortable victory.
Maryka Holzhausen and Lenize Potgieter helped South Africa to get their noses in front early on, while the trademark assured passing of Bongiwe Msomi was a feature early on.
Uganda were stern opponents from the start though, and came back to within one, missing the chance to equalise when Stella Oyella’s shot lacked accuracy. Shadine Van der Merwe then produced a close-range interception to get her side back on track, with them soon re-establishing a decent gap.
Potgieter was ruthless in front of goal, meanwhile at the other end, Oyella was outscoring her team-mate Peace Proscovia.
Potgieter eventually registered a miss with South Africa’s 24th shot of the game, but both teams continued to score at a good rate, with Uganda producing the composure and accuracy in front of goal to outscore their opponents 13-12 in the second quarter.
The lead South Africa had accumulated in the first quarter saw them through to half time with a lead, though, at 31-23. It had been a competitive first half between the top two nations in Africa, and both sets of attackers had impressed, shooting at over 90% accuracy.
The competitive nature of the contest continued into the third quarter, with an Oyella-inspired Uganda bringing the gap down to five at one point, 35-30.
However, her miss from under the post then proved costly, as South Africa sensed an opportunity to turn the screw. A change at goal keeper for Uganda failed to stop the flow of Potgieter goals, and although the boisterous Ugandan fans in the crowd were doing their best to lift their team, the game was slipping away from the She Cranes.
South Africa won the third quarter 15-10, taking an overall 46-33 lead into the final quarter.
History was beckoning for South Africa, as despite their second-placed finish in 1995, changes to the format of the tournament meant they had never actually played in a semi-final before.
They weren’t in the mood to let history slip away, and had stretched their lead to 16 within the opening minutes of the final quarter. Athleticism from Msomi and accuracy from Potgieter and Holtzhausen contributed to the Proteas’ most dominant quarter of the game, as they ensured that their semi-final spot was booked with a relatively comfortable margin of victory in the end.
The Proteas will now face fellow unbeaten side England in a clash to determine who will win the group, and whether their opponents in the semi will be current holders Australia or New Zealand.
South Africa’s Karla Pretorius said:
“We knew they were going to be a tough opponent – they always bring their best game against us. They have a typical African style of play and it definitely wasn’t easy for us – it was hard work but a good start and a good finish got us through.”