SA’s netball five-a-side team needs to pull up socks af­ter twin open­ing losses

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

SOUTH AFRICA’S Fast 5 team got off to a slow start on Day 1 of the FAST5 Netball World Se­ries at Auck­land’s Vec­tor Arena yes­ter­day, go­ing down nar­rowly in their open­ing two fix­tures.

South Africa went down to Ja­maica’s Sun­shine Girls 35-28 in the open­ing game of the se­ries in the morn­ing and then lost to Eng­land’s Fives, 36-29.

South Africa were up for the tus­sle in the open­ing spell of their opener, but failed to con­tain a ram­pant Ja­maica in the sec­ond quar­ter.

Opt­ing for a power play, Ja­maica cap­i­talised on the dou­ble points on of­fer with Jhaniele Fowler dom­i­nant un­der the post. In com­par­i­son, South Africa’s shoot­ing com­bi­na­tion of Chrisna Bootha and Maryka Holtzhausen strug­gled to stay in sync and Ja­maican de­fend­ers Sham­era Stir­ling and Malysha Kelly pounced.

Trail­ing 23- 7 at half­time, South Africa put their power play into ac­tion in the third spell, and Bootha found her rhythm. But the Ja­maican wall of de­fence made it tricky for the South Africans to pen­e­trate, and they still faced a seven- goal deficit, 21-28, go­ing into the fi­nal six- minute quar­ter. Valiant de­fence by goal keeper Vanes- Mari du Toit kept the South Africans in with a shot but it was a tough ask up against the 1.98m tall Fowler, who starred for the Southern Steel in this year’s ANZ Cham­pi­onship.

Af­ter the open­ing game South African cap­tain Holtzhausen, said the team was dis­ap­pointed and knew they were ca­pa­ble of a much bet­ter open­ing per­for­mance. But there were some vi­tal lessons learned for the younger mem­bers of the team.

“For a few of our play­ers, that was the first in­ter­na­tional they have ever played in their life, so it’s good to get it un­der their belts,” she said. “Our at­tack was a bit lack­ing and we didn’t find each other that eas­ily. They (Ja­maica) had a bril­liant power play and we re­ally strug­gled to con­tain them in that phase like we should have.”

Against Eng­land it was an in­cred­i­bly tight start to the clash – halfway through the six-minute first quar­ter, both teams had only scored one point each. Only one point sep­a­rated them at the end of the spell and there wasn’t much be­tween the two sides in the next quar­ter ei­ther.

Eng­land Fives keeper Lind­say Ke­able was fierce on the ball, while at the other end, her shoot­ers weren’t afraid to put up the big shots. They just didn’t have much luck trans­form­ing those shots into points.

Down 10-13 at half­time, South Africa tried to make a break with their power play. Bootha found the net from some nice an­gles, and they edged ahead 22-18. But a smooth six-pointer from Fives shooter Ros­alie Al­li­son wiped out the lead in an in­stant as Eng­land put their power play to ac­tion.

South Africa stayed within a point, un­til an­other Al­li­son su­per shot – al­beit third time lucky – made sure Eng­land got their first points on the board for this se­ries.

Player of the match, SA shooter Bootha, was a lit­tle per­plexed by her third- ranked team’s slow start to the three-day cham­pi­onship, with two losses from two en­coun­ters.

“It’s go­ing a bit shaky for us at the mo­ment, there’s not a lot of flow with the ball. We need to up it with our shoot­ing,” she said. “Half of the team are new and we haven’t trained a lot in FAST5. But I think it went bet­ter in the sec­ond game so ev­ery day from here will be bet­ter.”

SA will now face Aus­tralia, New Zealand and Malawi and all the matches will be screened live on SS5 from 5am SA time.

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