SA’s ‘plumming’ the depths
Proteas’ coach using Quad Series to work out combinations for Commonwealth Games
FACING THE world champions, the Proteas team will be looking to make the step up in the final match of the South African leg of the Netball Quad Series against Australia in Durban tonight.
South Africa will be buoyed by their performance from the weekend where they nearly claimed an upset victory against the England Roses.
In the build-up to the third leg of the competition, Proteas coach Norma Plummer said her team had been making small advances in closing the gap between themselves and the top three sides in the world.
Their 55-60 defeat to England was certainly an example of this as they enforced a draw after the end of regulation time.
Australia has set the golden standard in netball the last few years and beat South Africa 68-43 the last time they met in Auckland, New Zealand in August last year.
Plummer said the shooters had put in some extra work ahead of their big clash after they battled to find the target in Saturday’s match against England.
“Our start wasn’t good and we certainly weren’t on the money with the shot, letting ourselves down not converting,” Plummer said.
The Proteas erased an 11-point deficit after half-time to come within a whisker of beating the England Roses for only the second time in 22 years.
Plummer made crucial tactical replacements after she realised England had figured out goal attack Renske Stoltz and wing attack Bongi Msomi, who were a force in their previous encounter.
At the break she replaced Stoltz with Lindie Lombard after earlier bringing Izette Lubbe on in the TAKING NETBALL SA FORWARD: Proteas coach Norma Plummer is hoping to close the gap between SA and Australia tonight. place of Msomi.
“Credit to England, they knew our goal attack and wing attack had been a big force against them last time, so they did their homework to cut them out,” Plummer said. “So, we had to make the changes, and England said they had not been prepared for that, so it really opened the game for us. Full credit to (Lubbe) and (Lombard) because they certainly turned the game around for us.”
Plummer said she was still experimenting with her combinations with an eye on next year’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April.
“I am running 13 players at the moment, it has only been 19 months and I still have some options I want to look at,” she said.
“I want to make sure, come the time we get to the Commonwealth Games, we’ve picked the right blend and we have all the options in the players we select.”
The Proteas mentor, who coached Australia to gold medals at the World Cup in 2007 and 2011, said her side relished the tough challenge the Aussies would pose.
“I know some of their (Australia’s) strength and weaknesses, which I will share with the girls. It will be another step up, that’s for sure,” Plummer said.
“We’ve got nothing to lose, we’ve put ourselves in this competition to challenge at the top and it is the only way these players will understand what it is like to be in the crunch when the pressure is really on and get the win.”