JOHANNESBURG – South Africa stumbled over the final hurdle of an impressive run at the Netball World Cup with a 58-41 defeat to the England Roses in their bronze-medal match in Liverpool yesterday.
The Proteas netball team nevertheless produced their second-best result in 24 years, bowing out of the global showpiece in fourth place overall. They made a promising run for silverware after reaching the semi-final, where they lost to 11-time champions Australia by just two points.
It was not the fairy-tale ending coach Norma Plummer had in mind in her 50th and final match in charge of the South Africans.
“It would be an understatement to say that I am sad with the fact that we didn’t beat England, however at the same time I am super proud of the girls, they gave it their all on the court,” Plummer said.
“Granted, we made a few mistakes, second-guessed ourselves at times, but we played better. I cannot fault anyone here, England came out on tops, and for that we congratulate them.”
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Plummer praised her charges for their growth over the last few years, having emerged as one of the top teams in the world.
“I am proud of this team, I am proud of the journey travelled with all of them and the players who they have become over time,” Plummer said.
“I think we have done well in this World Cup as a team. Finishing in the top four is not a thing to take lightly, and I am telling them now to walk out there with their heads held high, they have done the unthinkable and put their name in the history books.”
This was the Proteas’ best performance since winning silver at the 1995 World Championships, after finishing fifth at four previous World Cups and sixth on one occasion
It was a case of déjà vu with the Proteas slow to get out of the blocks only to leave themselves a mountain to climb in the second half.
The sides went into the second quarter with only two points separating them, but England held the advantage throughout all four quarters.
Proteas captain Bongi Msomi credited Plummer for their rise in the global ranks over the last four years.
“As a team, we have grown and developed. On behalf of the team we wish Ma (coach Norma) everything of the best.”
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