Uganda beat SA 34-3 in netball challenge

South Africa put up a disappointing performance in the third and final Spar Challenge Test against Uganda at Pretoria University’s Mamelodi campus on Friday night, going down 30-34. South Africa win the series two-one, after winning the first two Tests.

The Proteas looked disjointed and disorganised against a highly motivated Ugandan team, and were on the back foot from the start, unable to get any rhythm going. At the end of the first quarter, Uganda led 9-4, and although South Africa made up a little ground in the second quarter, they still trailed by four points at halftime.

Coach Burta de Kock made three changes after the first quarter, substituting Maryka Holtzhausen and Tsakane Mbewe for the more established pairing of Claudia Basson and Christine Markgraaff at goal shooter and goal attack, and bringing on veteran Nthabiseng Mbatha for Refiloe Mochaka at wing attack, but despite the changes, South Africa were still not able to get on top of the fast-paced visitors.

The Proteas were guilty of some wild passes and fumbles. 

Markgraaff returned to the court in the third quarter, and Erin Burger came on at centre in the place of Simnikiwe Malusi at centre, and the Proteas began to reel in the visitors, getting to within a goal of the Ugandans.

But too often, panicky passes in the goal circle saw the Ugandans turn the ball over, and in most cases, this resulted in a goal for the She-Cranes.

Although Karin Venter and Adele Niemand managed to turn the ball over from time to time at goal defence and goalkeeper, they were also guilty of actions that led to penalties against them.

Captain Bronwyn-Bock Jonathan—a natural centre -‒ played most of the game at wing defence, but in the final quarter she played at centre while Precious Mthembu took over at wing defence. Basson came back on as goal shooter. There were some good flowing moves, but once again, too many passes in the goal area saw the ball being turned over.

Anne Nakiwu and Florence Amongin, the Ugandan goalshooter and goal attack, both had very good games, while the Ugandan centre, Harriet Apako, was superb, controlling the game and apparently able to be wherever she was needed at any time.

“I think our main problem is a lack of consistency,” said Bock-Jonathan. “There were enough balls that were turned around, but we weren’t able to convert them into goals, and also holding on and scoring from our centre passes was also a problem.

“We need to learn to apply all the strategies we work on in training sessions. “You can do all your combinations and practice them as much as you like, but if you don’t apply them on court, you can’t win.”

The Ugandan coach, Rossette Kaala, was thrilled with her team’s performance.

“We improved match by match, and I feel we gave South Africa some very good competition ahead of their World Champinship campaign,” she said. “I was very pleased with the way the team played today ‒- they were able to counter South Africa’s long, fast passes and force them to play the way they wanted to.”

The defeat will be a huge wake-up call for the Proteas, who head to the World Netball Championships in New Zealand in six weeks.

South Africa are ranked fifth in the world, whereas Uganda are currently not ranked. The Proteas are likely to meet some very stiff opposition in New Zealand, and on Friday’s showing, their number five ranking is in jeopardy.—Sapa

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