After shaking off some early resistance, South Africa opened their campaign in style on Friday night, coasting to a convincing 76-45 victory over Trinidad and Tobago in their first match of the Netball World Cup in Liverpool.
Getting off to an explosive start, Trinidad and Tobago gave the Proteas a slight scare in the early stages, surging forward as they took the game to their fancied opponents.
While goal shooter Samantha Wallace and goal attack Kalifa McCollin were flawless with their attempts at goal in the opening quarter, however, their Proteas counterparts Lenize Potgieter and Maryka Hoktzhausen were fed more opportunities at the other end of the court.
And once the South Africans had worked out the relatively straight forward approach taken by their opponents, they began capitalising on intercepts and turnovers, and they held a 19-15 lead at the end of the first period.
With energetic captain Bongi Msomi marshalling the Proteas from centre court, Trinidad and Tobago were shut out in the second quarter as South Africa took firm control of the match.
Though their forwards remained on target when they were given the chance, Trinidad and Tobago had only 12 shots at goal in the stanza, and the Proteas held a 40-26 advantage at the half-time break.
With their shooters starting to absorb some of the pressure as the gap in the scoreline was gradually extended, Wallace and McCollin started making mistakes, and their opponents pounced by stretching their lead to 56 -34 with 15 minutes left in the match.
Having all but wrapped up the result, Proteas coach Norma Plummer made multiple changes heading into the final quarter, and the new-look attack maintained the side’s intensity as they sealed a commanding victory.
“We worked hard in preparation for this World Cup, so for us to come together like this and gel the way we did tonight, I’m very proud of the team,” said Potgieter, who was named Player of the Match.
The Proteas were set to face Fiji in their second match on Saturday night, followed by a clash with giants Jamaica on Sunday, and a win in either fixture would secure them a spot in the next round of group games.
Following their positive start, in an attempt to step on the podium at the World Cup for the first time in 24 years, Potgieter said the SA players were confident of putting up a fight throughout the tournament.
“We’re just going to take it game by game and put our best foot forward in every match,” Potgieter said.
“We really want to improve our ranking, which is our goal in this tournament, so our hopes are high and there are positive vibes in the team.”