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SPAR Proteas’ win against Uganda on Thursday was not enough for them to secure a semi-final spot at the 2023 Netball World Cup – as result they had to compete at a play-off match against Tonga. This will be the first time these two teams meet in history. Tonga is ranked 7th in the world whilst South Africa is 5th.

World rankings mattered not on the day because Tonga did not show the SPAR Proteas any respect as soon as the whistle went, they pushed and took the game to South Africa. The shooting duo of Taljaard and Venter was not as sharp as it has been throughout the tournament, and coach Norma Plummer introduced Elmere van der Berg for Venter halfway through the quarter. At the end of the quarter, both teams were even at 12 all.

Second quarter started the same way first quarter ended with both teams going pound for pound with one another. The quarter was even very little room left for errors. Phumza Maweni was on song for the SPAR Proteas at the back as it has been the whole tournament, she continued to make crucial intercepts – South Africa made sure to capitalise on that – at the end of the quarter, South Africa were leading 18 – 11 taking the overall score at half time to 30 -23.

Both teams can into the championship quarter with no changes in terms of line up and the intensity was just as high. SPAR Proteas capitalised on their lead and make sure that they restrict Tonga to only scoring 13 goals in response to South Africa’s 17.

SPAR Proteas were well on the driver’s seat at the start of the fourth quarter and confidence sky high – this showed in how they relaxed the were when they had the ball in hand. Van der Berg who came on earlier in the played her heart out averaging 94.4% shooting, this stellar performance earned her player of the match accolade.

“When I was sitting on the bench watching, I was very nervous and when the coach called me in to replaced Ine, I knew I had to play my part and help the team win the match. I am just glad that I was able to play and do what we did. Even when Sammy (Owethu Ngubane) came on, I encouraged her and we did so well together, I think it was a good day overall,” said Elmere van der Berg.

South Africa will face Uganda for the second time this week for an all-Africa 5th/6th placing match. The two sides met on Thursday where the hosts narrowly won that game 52 – 50. Apart from that, this match will be about who is the best in the continent, it will be about bragging rights.

“We had a slow start and I think the girls were a bit nervous in the beginning, but we managed to get back on track and execute our game plan. Tonga is a team we have never played before; we have watched some of their games and they were here to compete. I think we did very well especially when you consider that we only had three camps to prepare for this world cup. We lost one match and drew one – I think one can be super proud of the players,” said Norma Plummer, SPAR Proteas Head Coach.

Score Breakdown:
Q1 – SPAR Proteas 12 – 12 Tonga
Q2 – SPAR Proteas 18 – 11 Tonga
Q3 – SPAR Proteas 17 – 13 Tonga
Q4 – SPAR Proteas 14 – 10 Tonga

Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Netball World Cup 2023