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The SPAR Proteas scored a comfortable 63-43 victory over Wales in the opening match in the three-Test SPAR International  Netball Challenge at the Durban International Convention Centre on Friday night.

The Proteas started off slowly, and Wales were first to score.  It was three minutes before the Proteas got on the scoreboard, and it took seven minutes before they went into the lead.  However, they never looked back after that, and maintained the lead throughout.

Wales, however, put up a good fight, and after trailing 18-9 at the end of the first quarter managed to keep closer to the Proteas for the rest of the match. South Africa won the second quarter by 3 goals, the third by six and the final quarter by just two goals.

Veteran Proteas centre Erin Burger played in her normal position of centre wearing a specially designed face mask after cracking her cheekbone in two places during the Proteas training camp earlier this month.  This setback did not appear to affect her play as she did her normal outstanding job of covering the whole court and controlling the game, and was named player of the match.

Proteas coach Norma Plummer said she was reasonably satisfied with the team’s performance.

“Coaches are never satisfied, but you’re never going to achieve perfection,” she said.

“They started slowly, but I think that was because they were very nervous. We have got the first match out of the way now, and I expect a better performance tomorrow and on Sunday.

“Wales did a good job across the transverse line, and I think we played a bit too wide.”

Plummer brought on uncapped players Jeanie Steyn and Renske Stoltz in the final quarter, and said she was very pleased with their performance.

“We were 20 goals ahead at that stage, and that’s an ideal time to bring on players for their first appearance in Proteas kit.  I think they did us proud,” said Plummer.

Wales coach Trish Wilcox said there were many positives to be taken out of  the match.

“We reduced the margin from 28 last time we played to 20, and that is a step in the right direction, even though it was not as much as we would have liked,” said Wilcox.

“I think we lacked composure, particularly in the circle,

Suzy Drane, the Wales captain, said they were very happy to have turned over the first centre pass.

“But we should have done more with our three goal lead,” she said.

Earlier, the Baby Proteas demolished Wales Under-21 by 75 goals to 25.  Outstanding defence by Alicia Puren and the player of the match, goal defence Kgomotso Mamburu, made it difficult for the Welsh players to get the ball into their circle, while the South African shooters, Ina-Mari Venter and Charmaine Baard were both on song. Wales performed best in the final quarter, when they scored eight goals, but the outcome of the match was never in doubt.