South Africa have secured fifth place at the Commonwealth Games after a strong final quarter against Uganda. The Proteas got out to an early lead, but it was a struggle for ascendancy throughout the game. The lead was never more than half a dozen goals across the first 45 minutes.
Erin Burger sat out the second half with Izette Griesel providing a strong option in attack to negate the influence of Ugandan Betty Kizza.
Phumza Maweni contained the might of Peace Proscovia to just 19 goals, with Oyella needing to take up the slack.
South African coach Norma Plummer was pleased with the effort of the group, given they had lost shooters Lenize Potgeiter and Danelle Lochner just days out from the beginning of the Games, and Precious Mthembu during the week.
“We’d be pretty hard people if we didn’t appreciate the work the girls did.”
“You’ve got to give full credit to Uganda today. They played a blinder and made us work for everything. But we sort of knew they might.”
Ine-Mari Venter capped off a great week for South Africa, finishing with 42/46 at 91% accuracy.
Leading by just three heading into the last term, Uganda levelled early before a 10-1 run gave the Proteas enough breathing space to take the win and their highest finish at a Commonwealth Games since 2002.
South Africa 53 def Uganda 52
(13-9, 24-22, 39-36, 53-42)
Venter 42/46 91%
Holtzhausen 11/12 92%
Proscovia 19/19 100%
Oyella 22/25 88%
Nanyonga 1/4 25%
What they said
Nicole Cusack, South Africa assistant coach
With the injuries on the eve of the tournament, how have you judged the shooting end this week?
We were here for a camp beforehand, so we got to work with the two shooters who came in, but not very much time. So, it was on-the-job kinda work and they’ve both done really well over the tournament. It was just a matter of matching up who we were playing against and yeah, we’re happy with them.
Were they mentally prepared to come into the Commonwealth Games?
Sigi’s always ready and Renske’s been playing in the U.K. so, as surprised as they were to get the call up, they were quite prepared.
Ine-Mari Venter has been brilliant
We’ve worked over the last few years at camps and try to get as many players in as we can to give them exposure. Ine-Mari has been working with us for a while and didn’t get court time in the last series but came back at selections and showed us that she wanted to be there and out on court. Her shooting is just fantastic and she stood up to the pressure of the games as well.
Norma Plummer, South Africa coach
Given the events the week before the Games started, how pleased are you of how the team bandied together?
I’m very pleased with our girls. It’s a big change in logistics of how we work, with the injuries, but that’s sport. You’ve got to deal with it at the time, so I’m very pleased we’ve been able to develop a couple of big tall shooters and give them opportunities, so that gives us more depth going forward.
What was the reason behind benching Erin Burger at half time?
I just felt Erin was lacking a little bit on the drive in. She is troubled with her breathing sometimes. We just thought we needed a change up. I needed to get Izette (Griesel) on court – the wing defence (Betty Kizza) was pretty torrid, and I just thought she handled her and took her out of the game. Those are the sorts of things that make a difference – player for player, that you see at the time.
Where to from here for South Africa?
We won’t see them now until August. It’ll be a Diamond Challenge early August and then we go to Quad Series. Where Australia and all them will be having camps, I’ll be sitting home having a wine, just watching from afar.
Still a great effort from the team across the week.
I think we had the hardest draw, as it turned out. Jamaica came off New Zealand with two great wins. So when we hit them, we didn’t have Potgeiter and we had to restructure ourselves. So we only lost by 11 and we had them going, we just didn’t maintain it. Then we only lost to Australia by 22 and I thought that wasn’t a bad effort – they’re just a machine at the moment. They have the luxury of putting on two teams. And Jamaica went down to them by 21, so to hold our ranking at fifth, that’s good.
Shadine van der Merwe, South Africa
Congratulations on the win!
Thank you. Coming into the Commonwealth Games we wanted to improve our ranking, we’re still fifth in the world, but last Commonwealth Games we finished sixth, so it’s great improvement.
You’ve had a lot more court time since Precious Mthembu went down.
Obviously I look up to Precious as a player, because I’m still a youngster. I just need to stick to the game plan and it worked.
What instructions did you get at half time?
We needed to play our own game. We got too comfortable and very physical so we had to stand up and go for every loose ball and fight hard.
What are your plans over the next couple of days?
We’re looking forward to seeing great Semi Finals and a great final, but we want to explore Australia as well and relax.
Who’s your tip for the gold medal?