GS Ine-Mari Ventner, GA Maryka Holtzhausen, WA Bongiwe Msomi (captain), C Erin Burger, WD Shadine van der Merwe, GD Karla Pretorius, GK Phumza Maweni.
Bench: Zanele Vimbela, Sigrid Burger, Izette Griesel, Renske Stoltz
Coach: Norma Plummer
GS Latonia Blackman, GA Nikita Payne, WA Vanessa Bobb, C Sabreena Smith, WD Teresa Howell, GD Shonte Seale, GK Rhe-Ann Miles-Mapp (Captain)
Bench: Damisha Croney, Shonica Wharton, Tonisha Rock-Yaw, Rieah Holder,Shonette Azore-Bruce.
Coach: Sandra Bruce-Small
Umpires: Kate Stephenson (ENG), Jackie Mizon (ENG), Jono Bredin (NZL)
South Africa and Barbados played their last match of pool play today, in what was effectively a dead rubber. Neither of the two teams can be dislodged from 3rd or 6th respectively, but looked to finish the tournament strongly. Barbados were hobbled by having two of their regular starting team unavailable through injury, including their always effective goal keeper Shonette Azore-Bruce.
Once again, Barbados produced a patient, steady brand of netball in their movement down court. Disappointingly for the Caribbean nation they were far too often halted through self-inflicted turnovers caused through handling errors and skills such as footwork. They’re currently ranked number one in the tournament in that statistic. It’s challenging for the island nation as they don’t regularly play in international competition. Not only do their players lack experience against other players, but also under the direction of international umpires, which would help them to control more of the basics.
The pairing of Ine-Marie Venter and Maryka Holtzhausen grows with assurance in every outing. In today’s game Venter held strongly against her opponents, allowing Holtzhausen to control the top of the circle and run the baselines. Shonte Seale is more used to playing at wing defence for Barbados, but moved across to goal defence, pushing Rhe-ann Niles-Mapp back to goal keeper for injury cover. The pair battled away, but lacked the instinctive understanding of the longer developed combination that the latter has with injured Azore-Bruce.
Karla Pretorius had another effective game, picking up six intercepts, two deflections and three rebounds. She’s close to the top of the intercept list although far lower on the deflection list, meaning she’s picking off clean ball for her team. Under the coaching of Norma Plummer, goal keeper Phumza Maweni has graduated to the big time, becoming a keeper of international class. In the two years that she has been working with Plummer she has made significant gains in all areas, showing the benefits of hard work and international match practise.
With Precious Mthembu’s knee injury confirmed as ACL damage, her wing defence position was covered mostly by Shadine van der Merwe. She’s a strong player highly rated by her coach, and in this game forced several changes of wing attack against her.
The third quarter proved to be the Bhajan’s best, coming up with 11 goals, compared to their other quarters of 5, 5 and 4. They continued to shuffle their midcourt, trying to find an effective combination.
However, led by Bongiwe Msomi and Erin Burger, time and again the South Africa midcourt picked up loose balls or chimed in with intercepts and sent it transitioning towards their goals.
For South Africa, Siggy Burger and Renske Stolz were introduced at goal shooter and goal attack in the third and fourth quarters of the match. The pair were both late call ups for the team when injury struck. While they had just half a day, and one day, respectively, in training prior to the Games starting, they have improved significantly across the tournament.
Siggy Burger and Ine-Mari Venter stand at 195cm and 192 centimetres respectively, and are both accurate shooters, capable of a strong hold or movement. With injured – and far more experienced – goal shooters Lenise Potgeiter and Danelle Lochner also available in the future for South Africa, Plummer and assistant coach Nicole Cusack have certainly filled their brief of developing talent.
Izette Griesel moved into wing attack to rest the legs of Msomi and Burger ahead of the placing round, while Zanele Vimbela took over from Maweni at keeper. Despite the numerous changes, the South Africans didn’t slow their momentum and ran out strong winners, 85 – 25.
While there are three teams they could potentially still play in the placing round, they will most likely face Uganda. The two nations have met several times over recent years, with the points going to South Africa. However, with their injury struggles and Uganda’s fine form in this tournament, the result is far from assured.
Barbados will finish fifth in their pool, most likely coming up against Scotland in the placing rounds as they battle for 9th or 10th position.
FINAL SCORE: South Africa defeated Barbados 85 – 25
Ine-Mari Ventner 34/35 (97%), Maryka Holtzhausen 10/14 (71%), Siggy Burger 33/35 (94%), Renske Stolz 8/9 (89%)
Latonia Blackman 14/15 (93%), Nikita Payne 11/17 (65%)
WHAT THEY SAID AFTER THE GAME:
Ine-Mari Ventner (South Africa)
“The Commonwealth Games were my first cap. I’ve learned a lot, particularly about my consistency on the shot, a lot of standing and remaining composed. We’ve been working hard on my holding in the circle over the last two weeks.”
Norma Plummer (coach, South Africa)
Why did you make changes in the shooting circle? One shooter had a day, the other had half a day before the Commonwealth Games started, by the time they arrived here from England. We need to give them the opportunities, because if we are stretched tomorrow we might need the options.
Tell us about Ine-Mari Venter. “She is a couple of years older than Siggy (Burger). She’s an intelligent player – we will get more out of her. She can still be stronger on a few things. She came to the Quad series last year, didn’t train very hard so I didn’t play her. She came back for selection trials, and she turned it on. So she got in.”
“So the players have learned that you can’t be half-hearted. We’re putting out some good stuff, a few issues like the soft balls we put out.”
Some of your bench players had good impact. “Yes, they did. Nellie Vimbela is a mature player that we’ve had for about two years. She’s got that versatility that we might be able to use, mainly at goal defence and goal keeper. But we tried her at wing defence at selections in case we needed her, and now we do with our number one wing defence gone.”
“I was also pleased with Shadine van der Merwe, because Shadine is really solid – strong drives, can stick to the game, what you want her to play. You give her instructions and she’s good.”
It looks like you will play Uganda. How will you prepare for that? “Phumza (Maweni) and Peace Proscovia have a good battle. Funnily enough I think their goal attack is the main danger. Their goal attack is elusive and can shoot goals, so you can’t afford just to sit on Peace. We would burn ourself if we sat on Peace.”
“We’ve played Uganda a few times, and they are a much improved team and so are we, so I think it will be a good game.”
“I do admire Peace and what she has done. She’s sensational, and the ambassador for the World Champs. It’s wonderful for some of the lower ranked countries. It’s giving them recognition, and then they start to believe they can stand up with the world. It will help grow the sport.”
Phumza Maweni (South Africa)
How are you feeling? “I’m so proud of our team, and we are very ready for the next game.”
“I have played a lot of games, but if the coach asks me to play I do. So, I have to recover quickly. I am feeling a bit tired, but only one game left I have to be strong and finish off.”
You’ve become a strong force as a keeper in international netball. Tell me about your development. “South African netball has really helped, playing international matches. And Norma has played a big role in my defense. She is such an amazing coach, and we’ve had two years together and I’ve been working really hard to improve as a player. Everything has gone well with that so far.”
“We used to play netball with no structure, but now we have structure, we are told what to do, we are given lots of tips about how to play. But of course I can’t tell you these (laughing). Sometimes we play loose, but some of the shooters we have to adapt to, we must be tighter and adjust much more quickly. So the mindset is also wider now.”
Are you looking forward to matching up on Peace Proscovia? “I have played against her before, but it’s going to have to be a tight defence because we have to shut down their moving goal attack as well.”