The Proteas netball team went down fighting on Thursday, falling in a 57-46 defeat to a fancied Jamaican side in their first pool match of the Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast.
Despite losing star goal shooter Lenize Potgieter to an ankle injury on the eve of the Games, the South African side pushed forward from the start.
With replacement shooter Sigi Burger displaying superb form against a powerful Jamaican outfit, they took a 15-10 lead into the second quarter.
Burger sank all 15 of her attempts and the Proteas held on to their advantage at 38-37 heading into the final stanza.
Burger was replaced by Ine-Mari Venter, however, and the Jamaicans took control in the last quarter by swinging the momentum, romping clear to earn a 57-46 victory after outscoring the South Africans by 12 points in the final 15 minutes.
“We’ve been through a bit of adversity (losing a few unavailable players) and Lenize was such a gun for us,” said SA coach Norma Plummer.
“We had two tall, young shooters who had to stand up with a lot of pressure against a top team. That was Ine-Mari’s first Test, and Sigi had only played two, so we were pretty green in that area and we did a pretty good job if you look at it overall.”
Targeting a maiden Commonwealth Games medal, the Proteas will need to beat world champions Australia or hope a few surprises go their way in the pool stages, in order to progress to the semifinals.