Netballers find few holes in S. African wall

Singapore's Charmaine Soh finds the going tough against South Africa.
Singapore's Charmaine Soh finds the going tough against South Africa.PHOTO: NARELLE SPANGHER (NWC2015 MEDIA)

An almost impregnable defensive wall erected by South Africa laid the foundations for a dominant 69-21 victory over Singapore at the Netball World Cup yesterday.

Ranked fifth in the world, 10 spots higher than their opponents, the South Africans quickly asserted their authority and led 15-8 after the first quarter at Sydney's Netball Central.

Chances were at a premium for the Republic's shooters, as the taller and faster South African defenders closed down all channels for passes and forced the three-time Asian champions into mistakes.

Goal-shooter Charmaine Soh and goal-attack Chen Huifen, who scored 56 points in the win over Sri Lanka on Friday, were presented with this time only 24 chances, converting 15.

Head coach Ruth Aitken, who watched as Singapore's attack was limited to just eight points after the half-time break, admitted that her side were outclassed.

Said the Kiwi: "That was a lesson in netball at the top-six level. Their strength and conditioning were on another level to us. Their defence was smothering and it was disappointing that we couldn't execute our game plan."

One statistic stood out. The South Africans intercepted the ball 20 times, while Singapore stole possession back just twice in 60 minutes of play.

Aitken, a former world champion as a player and coach with New Zealand, said that much of this was down to the Singapore players finding themselves isolated and pressured into misplacing passes.

At the other end, South Africa goal-shooter Lenize Potgieter made 39 of her 45 shots while compatriot Elsje du Plessis connected with 19 of her 27 attempts.

The previous encounter between both sides, at the 2011 World Cup hosted in Singapore, was equally one-sided as South Africa ran out 70-33 victors. This was their first win in this edition as they had lost 51-58 on Friday to world No. 6 Malawi, who face Singapore today.

It will be an equally tough assignment - the Malawians thrashed Sri Lanka 101-18 last night - but goal keeper and captain Micky Lin refused to allow pessimism to seep into the Singapore camp.

She said: "The scoreline may be quite big but we actually matched them for the opening period. But we couldn't sustain it, and we will look at the areas we can improve on. All is not lost."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 09, 2015, with the headline 'Netballers find few holes in S. African wall'. Print Edition | Subscribe