South Africa and Northern Ireland have only played each other nine times, the most recently at the 2015 Netball World Cup where South Africa prevailed by 10 goals. Both teams were keen to get their first win coming off tough losses over the last two days, with Northern Ireland going down 94 – 26 to Australia and South Africa overrun by Jamaica, 57 – 46. Despite resting a number of their stars, South Africa proved to be too strong, taking out the match 49 – 35.
GS Sigrid Burger, GA Ine-Mari Ventner, WA Bongiwe Msomi, C Izette Griesel, WD Shadine van der Merwe, GD Zanele Vimbela, GK Phumza Maweni.
Bench: Precious Mthembu, Erin Burger, Maryka Holzhausen, Karla Pretorius, GK Renske StoltzCoach: Norma Plummer
2nd Quarter Bongiwe Msomi C, Izette Griesel WA. During quarter, Erin Burger to C, Maryka Holtzhausen to GA.
3rd Quarter – Precious Mthembu WD
4th Quarter – Bongiwe Msomi WA
GS Lisa Bowman, GA Kyla Bowman, WA Oonagh McCullough, C Caroline Hanlon (Captain), WD Fionnuala Toner, GD Noleen Lennon, GK Gemma Lawlor
Bench: Lisa McCaffrey, Michelle Drayne, Michelle Magee, Neamh Woods, Niamh Cooper.
Coach: Elaine Rice
Q2 Michelle Drayne WA
Q3 Niamh Cooper WD, Fionnuala Toner to GD, Noleen Lennon to GK. During – Michelle Magee to GD, Toner back to WD, Oonagh McCullough GA
Q4 Noleen Lennon GS, Caroline O’Hanlon WA, Michelle Drayne C, Gemma Lawlor GK.
Umpires: Kate Stephenson (ENG), Jackie Mizon (ENG), Lisa McPhail (NZL)
After a tough clash against Jamaica yesterday, South Africa chose to rest a number of their stars against the 8th ranked Northern Ireland. With rarely seen combinations on court, it was a patchy start. Northern Ireland placed great pressure on the higher ranked team, staying in touch with them for most of the quarter.
For South Africa goal keeper Phumza Maweni was paired with the inexperienced Zanele Vimbela. While the latter lacks the experience of usual goal defence Karla Pretorius, who was on a scheduled day off, she created a number of turnovers picking off one intercept and seven deflections. They had an entertaining tussle against the Bowman sisters, Lisa and Kyla, with the former holding strong position for the lob in to her.
At the opposite end of the court, the combination of Sigrid Burger and Ine-Mari Venter were creating good space, picking up lobs placed over the heads of the shorter defenders, Gemma Lawlor and Noleen Lennon. However progress into the circle was slowed by the efforts of Fionnuala Toner at wing defence, with four intercepts and three deflections throughout the match, many of them on the fly.
South Africa clicked into gear towards the end of the quarter, slipping out to a six goal lead. A desperate deflection from Northern Ireland goal keeper Gemma Lawlor stopped the final play of the period.
Northern Ireland’s captain Caroline O’Hanlon was in dynamic form, working hard in defence and driving the attack through court. South Africa used three different centres against her, Izette Griesel, Bongiwe Msomi and finally Erin Burger – substituted on when Northern Ireland drew within two goals – in an attempt to quell her influence. Burger is such a fierce competitor, and despite drawing a caution, made an immediate impact with her feeding of the shooters, ability to set up play, and physical defence. Neither Burger nor O’Hanlon backed away from contact, at one point having a heavy collision together with Maweni, which sent all three players flying. (See Gold Coast Scoop Day 3 for the action shots of the collision!)
The introduction of Marika Holtzhausen at goal attack also had an immediate impact, setting up some beautiful passages of shooter to shooter play as she supported her less experienced teammate.
As the game started to slip away from Northern Ireland they made plenty of changes, including shifting defender Lennon into goals. They’d created numerous opportunities – 11 intercepts/10 deflections to South Africa’s 3 intercepts/17 deflections – but couldn’t capitalise on them, with too many balls misplaced on attack.
South Africa ran out comfortable winners, gaining confidence as their clash with Australia looms tomorrow. Their shooting will have to improve for them to have any real impact on Australia. For Northern Ireland the task doesn’t get any easier. Their first three matches are against the world numbers 1, 4 and 5, before a couple of easier matches towards the end of pool play.
South Africa defeated Northern Ireland 49 – 35
Sigrid Burger 38/41 93%
Ine-Mari Ventner 7/9 78%
Maryka Holtzhausen 4/9 44%
Lisa Bowman 21/25 84%
Kyla Bowman 4/6 67%
Oonagh McCullough 5/11 45%
Noleen Lennon 5/6 83%
WHAT THEY SAID AFTER THE GAME:
Sigrid Burger (South Africa)
You were called into the team at the last minute to replace the injured Lenise Potgeiter. “I’ve literally just landed in South Africa, so they gave me two days to sort out my visas, so at least I was home to share the news with mum and dad, but we had to keep it strictly confidential.”
You didn’t have to unpack? “No, I kept my whole bag that I had just landed at Cape Town, and I just came straight on the next plane almost.”
How do you prepare yourself mentally being called in at the last minute? “Basically when I got the call, I said, ‘Mum, you can’t tell anyone, but I’m going to Comm Games, so the first thing we have to do is find a ball and shoot.’ I was at Superleague in England (and on the way home), in massive holiday mode, it was Easter, going to have a few chocolates. So it was, ‘Mum, get a ball please, we have to shoot.’”
“I was, ‘It’s fine Siggy, have the confidence, you’ve been playing all season in England. You’ve shot more than enough, I feel you’ve prepared yourself, so just go out and breathe, and kill it,’ so I’m trying.”
Your parents couldn’t get here, are there plenty of phone calls home? “Exactly! They are always asking what’s happening. I don’t care what time it is, midnight, its like, “Mummy, Daddy, how are you, wake up, your princess is calling.”
Norma Plummer (coach, South Africa)
How did you see the match? “I always knew the Irish were going to come out and keep running all day, because I went over there back in 2015 and spent three weeks with those players, so I know how determined they are. They played a good game and we have to shuffle things up at the moment because we’ve got two new shooters in, so we’ve got to try and find the blend. If I don’t put them out there we’re not going to find the mix.”
“It was (a low scoring game), a lot of mistakes, just stupid errors. And it wasn’t even really like it was the pressure, it was just bad choices at the time. So our decision-making would need to be better.”
How are the two new shooters settling in? “Renska (Stolz) we didn’t get on the court today, but they had the two talls there, it gives us a different option but they’re only young, just out of 21s. Ine-Mari (Ventner) had her first cap yesterday and Ziggy Berger had played a couple of lower matches with us, then been out with a knee injury so she’s just back. So it’s finding the touch at the moment and getting the movement going.”
Was Karla Pretorius rested? “Absolutely. She’ll be fine.”
Facing Australia in the next game: “Australia’s number one, we’re chasing that to see if we can keep closing the gaps and that’s where it’s been disappointing losing Lenize (Potgeiter) because it was only 4 goals last time. But we’ve probably got a good hard job ahead of us tomorrow.”
Bongi Msomi (captain, South Africa)
How are the two new shooters settling into the team? “I’m just so proud of the girls. We definitely saw the change and the commitment through the training sessions that we had. Since Lenize and Danelle left, the girls just stepped up and we expected the girls to step up because we’ve been together for quite some time. They’ve been in and out of the team, it’s not like we’re starting from scratch. So I’ve been pleased with what they’ve put on court, from yesterday to today it’s really been amazing. But again, it’s up to us to guide them, so I think the whole team is really doing a great job to give them that confidence to just step on court and play the game that they can do. And they’ve really been doing well I think.”
Caroline O’Hanlon (captain, Northern Ireland)
What did you think of today’s match? “Early in the match we put them under good pressure, but there were too many unforced errors. We worked hard to get turnover ball but we gave the ball away cheaply which was disappointing. We had some nice passages of play but we weren’t consistent throughout the match.”
You’ve got a tough start, how do you keep your confidence levels up? “We take one game at a time, we had a tough game against Australia, we knew that was coming. So we reflect on it that day then wipe it. We don’t have time. We will go back after the tournament and see what could have been, but we’ll look at this match and recover.”
“South Africa and Jamaica are really close. The competition is really tight, there’s nothing much between any of the teams, there are no easy matches. If any team takes their foot off, they’re vulnerable. We will relish that game against Jamaica.”