Birmingham, England – Vitality Netball Nations Cup hosts, England had to fight hard to beat the SPAR Proteas 58-54 on Thursday in Birmingham.

Both South Africa and England came into match day two having lost their opening matches three days earlier against New Zealand and Jamaica respectively in Nottingham.

The win by the  Commonwealth Champions dampened any chance of the South Africa reaching the final of the inaugural tournament this weekend.

The SPAR Proteas and the Vitality Roses recently met in Cape Town for the SPAR International Netball Series and England won that series 2 -1 and both teams know each other very well.

South Africa’s head coach Dorette Badenhorst made two changes to the team that played against Jamaica last Sunday, both Lefebre Rademan and Rome Dreyer started ahead of Ine Marie Venter and Izette Griesel.

Both teams understood how important a win was for both of them and it was evident in how they started, South Africa were the first one to score their first point soon after the centre pass however England took the game to South Africa and made sure that they make their presence felt, they also enjoyed home support from the arena. The SPAR Proteas played way better than they did on Sunday and enjoyed the lead for the better of the quarter. They made sure to punish England every time they lost the ball. South Africa took a 16 -13 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The start of the second quarter saw England coach Jess Thirlby making three changes in the defence department and centre. South Africa seemed keen to continue where they left off at the end of the first quarter, Rademan seemed to be enjoying herself on court and her combinations with Potgieter in attack was yielding desired result for the South African team.

The changes that England made seemed to have been working because towards the end of the quarter, they started to unlock the South Africa’s defence and took the game back to them. The Roses pushed South Africa and until the end of quarter winning that quarter 12 – 10 and reduced SPAR Proteas lead to just one point. At the end of the quarter it was 26 – 25 to South Africa.

The start of the third quarter saw England getting a head start, the team came out the tunnel like a team possessed and scored tow goals in as many minutes. South Africa conceded too many errors, and this allowed England to turnover possession and convert their chances. England made South Africa work for every single ball on court. Coach Badenhorst brought in fresh legs of Sigi Burger at Goal Shooter, Izette Griesel at Centre and Khanyisa Chawane at Wing Attack.

Vitality Roses took a 17 -11 lead in the third quarter after making sure that they took their chances and fought the SPAR Proteas for every ball. At the end of the quarter England were leading for the first time in this game at 42 -37.

Rademan made her way back onto the court at the start of the last quarter and replaced Sigi Burger. England were desperate to maintain their newly found lead, this was evident in how they started the quarter, South Africa didn’t hold up and continued to fight hard to restore their lead.

South Africa will feel like they should have won this game especially after having had started like a house on fire and leading the first two quarters. At the end of the match it was the Vitality Roses that won the match 58 – 54. England’s Stacey Francis won Player of the Match

“The team really worked hard during training sessions and this was evident in how we played today. Yes, we made a few mistakes during the match and think that our defence got toward towards the end, I am proud of the team, they fought hard and never gave up. We get ready for the New Zealand game now this weekend,” said Dorette Badenhorst, SPAR Proteas Head Coach.

South Africa will face New Zealand on Saturday in London at 16:30 SA time.  

Score breakdown:

Q1 England 13 – South Africa 16

Q2 England 25 – South Africa 26

Q3 England 42 – South Africa 37

Q4 England – South Africa

South Africa’s starting seven:

Rome Dreyer (C); Phumza Maweni (GK); Bongiwe Msomi (WA); Lenize Potgieter (GS); Karla Pretorius (GD); Lefebre Rademan (GA); Shadine vd Merwe (WD)