Proteas get their Netball World Cup campaign off to a great start

Finally, the 2023 Netball World Cup started after many months of preparations and planning. The world has finally descended to the Mother City. The Opening Ceremony depicted a true African flair with a star-studded line up.

South Africa started their 2023 Netball World Cup campaign by facing Wales, a team that they have faced twenty times overall and four times at a Netball World Cup.SPAR Proteas Head Coach Norma Plummer who was sitting in the dugout for her 153 international caps made a few surprise changes to her regular starting seven with Elmere van der Berg ahead of Lenize Potgieter.

It was South Africa who drew first blood as soon as the whistle went off, the backing of the home crowd looked like the boost that SPAR Proteas needed. The defensive duo of Karla Pretorius and Phumza Maweni worked wonders the team just as much as the attacking pairing of Ine – Mari Venter and Elmere van der Berg. At the end of the first quarter, it was South Africa who enjoyed a nine-point lead (18 – 9) with Venter securing a 94 percent shooting average and Phillipa Yarranton sitting on 100%.

Second quarter was off to a slow start however it was South Africa who switched gears pretty quickly as soon as they got their rhythm back and continued where they left off in the first quarter. The support of the home crowd was just the fuel the SPAR Proteas needed.

Wales were not deterred by the noise and support for the South African team, and they punched above their weight and won the quarter 15 – 14, and SPAR Proteas went into the half time break leading 32 -24. Coach Plummer made two changes putting on Nichole Taljaard in the place of van der Berg and Jeante Strydom earned her first South African cap replacing van der Merwe.

The experience of the South African team was evident throughout the quarter, and one would not say that Strydom was playing her debut today, the way she was so settled in that wing defence role – SPAR Proteas stepped up and recovered from the second quarter and won the championship quarter 15 – 13, taking their overall lead to 47 – 37.

Even though Ine- Mari Venter played her 49th match for South Africa, this was her first appearance at the Netball World Cup after missing out at the previous a few days before it started due to injury.

“I was literally crying when we were singing the national anthem earlier because this meant so much to me, knowing that I missed the previous World Cup due to injury. It was a special moment for me to come out tonight for my maiden World Cup, at home and winning player of the match” said an emotional Venter at the post-match press conference.

Head Coach Norma Plummer is happy with her charges and great display of netball they showed tonight – this win marks Plummer’s 100th win in 153 international matches, she has three draws and fifty losses.“I am thrilled with how we played tonight; I will take the win even though I thought we could have done better. Our ladies really came out to play and I think Ine (Venter) deserved the accolade tonight, she stepped up very nicely.

Elmere (van der Berg) played okay even though I feel like a big crowd got to her. Nichole Taljaard is a great athlete, and we will need to manage her and the small errors she makes – I believe that Jeante Strydom is an exceptional player who is super focused, we put her in and did wonders for us, just need to manage her well,” said an elated Norma Plummer.

South Africa will take on Sri Lanka on Saturday 29th July 2023 at 18:00 for their second group stage match.

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