National goal-shooter Samantha Wallace and goal-attack Kalifa McCollin as expected shot with a high level of accuracy but unfortunately the Calypso Girls went under to South Africa, 76-45 in their first match of the Netball World Cup, yesterday. This was at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool, England.
Pedro Enrique Loyo Diaz
It was a bittersweet evening for captain Rhonda John-Davis, who made history by appearing at her sixth World Cup but was unable to stop her side slipping to a 76-45 defeat to the Proteas.
Wallace led the T&T team with 28 goals from 30 attempts and McCollin netted 11 goals from 14 tries. Later, Jameela McCarthy joined the attack replacing McCollin as the goal-attack, who ended with six from seven attempts.
Pedro Loyo Diaz
The sides traded goals in the early stages, however, the Proteas quickly got into their stride, taking advantage of overthrown passes to take an 8-4 lead
However, to the delight of the crowd, the Calypso Girls hit back strongly, narrowing the deficit to just one goal, before spurning an opportunity to equalise following an interception. After winning possession back in a similar fashion, South Africa then pulled away, stretching their lead to four goals, and holding a 19-15 advantage
In the second quarter, the South Africans made three consecutive possessions tell, with their attackers taking the score to 22-15, as the Caribbean struggled to contain the unerring precision of their opponents
The potent attacking pair of Lenize Potgieter (42/43) and Maryka Holtzhausen ensured (18/22) that the lead stretched to 10 goals. The middle phase of the quarter was scrappy, with both sides conceding possession easily. Erin Burger’s interception helped the South Africans ease further ahead though, as they established a 38-25
Throughout the half, wing-attack Bongiwe Msomi was a driving force, with her accurate, quick passes giving her team-mates good chances to score. A typical interception from her meant that South Africa entered the dressing rooms at half time with a commanding 40-25 lead and left the Calypso Girls with a mountain to climb in the second half
T&T started the second half listlessly, conceding possession too often in promising situations. South Africa continued their relentless dominance taking the score out to 45-28. The difference between the sides was a reflection of the ability of the Proteas to exploit the space in the shooting arc. Potgeiter’s focussed shooting in front of the net was a constant – she had 98 per cent accuracy as South Africa extended the advantage to 54-32. Both teams exchanged a couple more goals before the end of the third quarter
The fourth would prove to be a more even affair, with both teams regularly scoring. However, South Africa produced a sudden burst of goals and was comfortably in front as John-Davis was substituted, bringing to an end her historic appearance
Also shooting for South Africa was Sigrid Burger, who was substituted in as goal-shooter for Potgieter. She netted 16 of 18
John-Davis‘ appearance ensured thats she is now out on her own as the most prolific player in Netball World Cup history, with her six tournaments putting her ahead of a host of players who have played in five editions of the competition. However, she was reluctant to dwell on that achievement
She said: “I’m a competitor, so it’s really tough to focus on being proud of making a sixth World Cup after we have just lost by such a big margin. It is a great accomplishment, but in that loss we definitely struggled
“We lacked discipline at times, and when things were working for us we decided to change up, which won’t help us, so that was our main downfall today.”
T&T face Jamaica in their second match of the tournament tomorrow, and John-Davis believes that the relentless run of fixtures should help each team to fine-tune their performances
“It’s helpful because you can’t dwell on the loss – you have to learn from it and show that when you go to the next game, you don’t make the same mistakes.”
After reflecting on the defeat, John-Davis also acknowledged how far the sport has come since her first World Cup tournament in 1999
“There’s more interest now,” she said. “There’s a lot more physicality in the game and the netball nations are playing more and more. There’s more competition and there are more players, and that’s great for the sport, because it can only rise further from here.”
In the other Group C match, Jamaica was its spectacular self in its opener against 17th ranked Fiji. The “Sunshine Girls” put on a dominating performance beating Fijians, 85-29
Another Caribbean neighbour, Barbados, began its campaign with physical flair and style as they put on a dominant display against Singapore, winning 69-34
T&T netballers will try to regroup quickly as they are back on the court today against the Jamaicans.
T&T (10th) 45 vs South Africa (5th)
Australia (1st) 88 vs Northern Ireland (8th) 24
Jamaica (2nd) 85 vs Fiji (17th) 29
New Zealand (4th) 64 vs Malawi (9th) 45
Zimbabwe (13th) 79 vs Sri Lanka (18th) 49
Barbados (11th) 69 vs Singapore (26th) 34
England (3rd) 64 vs Uganda (6th) 32
Scotland (7th) 53 vs Samoa (14th) 35