Despite charging to a dominant victory over Scotland on Tuesday, Proteas netball coach Norma Plummer admitted they had a lot of work to do with just eight months to prepare for the 2023 World Cup in Cape Town.
The SA team turned out in their first match under the returning head coach, coasting to a 61-42 win over the Scottish Thistles in the opening game of the Spar Diamond Challenge series in Pretoria, but Plummer was not satisfied with their consistency through the match.
“We’ve got a long way to go,” said Plummer, who replaced former Proteas coach Dorette Badenhorst in a surprise decision by Netball South Africa earlier this month.
“That was our first hit-out since I’ve been back and it was a bit patchy. We were in the game on some occasions, and then we dropped it and let Scotland back in.”
While the hosts took early control, the unfancied Scotland side – ranked five places below world No 5 South Africa – managed to stay in touch and were just four points behind (14-10) at the end of the first quarter.
And though the Thistles continued to put up a fight, they struggled to take their chances up front and paid for their missed opportunities, with the Proteas taking a 27-18 lead into the half-time break.
Showing their class in the third period, South Africa ran rampant, dominating on attack and defence to take a 47-26 advantage into the final quarter.
Scotland fight back
Displaying tremendous grit in the last 15 minutes, Scotland prevented any further damage and scored two points more than their opponents, but the Proteas had done enough to wrap up a convincing victory.
“We’re starting something special with this group and I’m really pleased with how we went at South Africa for the whole game,” said Scotland coach Tamsin Greenway.
“We didn’t fade. We could easily have dropped off a cliff at half-time, but we won that last quarter.”
The Proteas will face neighbours Zimbabwe – ranked 13th in the world – on Wednesday afternoon and they will turn out again on Friday in a clash with the SA Presidents XII.
The Diamond Challenge final will be held on Saturday.