London, England – The final day of the 2020 Vitality Nations Cup saw World Champions, the New Zealand Silver Ferns beat the Sunshine Girls of Jamaica 67-56 to lift the inaugural Vitality Nations Cup trophy.

However before the final the SPAR Proteas would take on the Vitality Roses in what has been dubbed the battle of the flowers for the bronze medal.

The two sides have met before earlier in the week and the hosts England won what was labelled a game of two halves. South Africa had led and won the first two quarters and England overtook them to win that match 58 -54.

The SPAR Proteas have really gotten better with each game that passed and this was evident in how they played against World Champions New Zealand on Saturday. The coaching duo of Dorette Badenhorst and Dumisani Chauke went into this game with one objective in mind and that was to keep up the momentum and possibly beat England in their own back yard.

South Africa made two changes to the team that played New Zealand on Saturday, Khanyisa Chawane got a start at Centre in place of Rome Dreyer and Izette Griesel at Wing Attack ahead of Captain Bongiwe Msomi.

England took the lead from centre pass however South Africa didn’t sit back and made sure that they equalise as soon as possible. The SPAR Proteas had a shaky quarter and committed a few mistakes which England punished them for. Not all was lost as the South Africa clawed their way back to the game. At the end of the first quarter it was the host that enjoyed an 18 -15 lead.

Badenhorst made a few changes during the break and introduced Zanele Vimbela at Wing Defence and Rome Dreyer at Centre. These changes were short lived and captain Bongiwe Msomi and Shadine vd Merwe were introduced to the match. Lenize Potgieter was on song as she continued to convert her chances. The introduction of Msomi was very key as she injected the much needed speed to the South African attack. England were eager to steal the game away from South Africa and threw everything at them.

It was England that kept pushing and took an 18 -14 lead going into the half time break and take an overall lead of 36 -29 at half time. England started the third quarter where they left off before half time and kept the momentum. The pep talk the South African coach had with the team seems to have done wonders because the team suddenly came to the party and took the game to England. Vimbela was introduced at goalkeeper position in the place Maweni and she didn’t disappoint. She was very aggressive in defence and intercepted deadly attacks by the English.

At the end of the third quarter it was England who were upfront however South Africa who had won the quarter 19 -13. Third quarter score was 49 -48 in favour of England. The SPAR Proteas got off the mark very quickly in the last fifteen minutes and wanted to make sure that they level matters and possibly win the match. England could not risk that and put up a good fight.

The SPAR Proteas pushed England in every part of the game and made sure that they convert their chances and for the first time in this match, England chased the game in the last seven minutes of the match. As it has been the norm between these two nations, the business end of the matches is always nail biting. The game went all the way to the last second and England won the match 65 -63.

England Captain Natalie Haythornthwaite who was also playing her 50th test match was the player of the match on the day. England finish third at the 2020 Vitality Netball Nations Cup.

“I am proud of the ladies, they really fought hard for each other on court even though we had some calls going against us, we soldiered on. As we head back home we take with us a lot of lessons and I am sure we are a better team leaving here. Playing against the best in the world has done us a whole lot of good and I am certain that we will strive to be better as we go along,” said SPAR Proteas Head Coach Dorette Badenhorst.  

Score breakdown:

Q1 England 18– South Africa 15 

Q2 England 36 – South Africa 29

Q3 England 49 – South Africa 48

Q4 England 65 – South Africa 63

South Africa’s starting seven:

Khanyisa Chawane (C); Phumza Maweni (GK); Izette Griesel (WA); Lenize Potgieter (GS); Karla Pretorius (GD); Lefébre Rademan (GA); Shadine vd Merwe (WD)