Proteas to meet giants Australia in semifinals

Izette Griesel of the SPAR Proteas in action during the Vitality Netball World Cup match between South Africa and England at M&S Bank Arena on July 18, 2019 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Reg Caldecott/Gallo Images)

Izette Griesel of the SPAR Proteas in action during the Vitality Netball World Cup match between South Africa and England at M&S Bank Arena on July 18, 2019 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Reg Caldecott/Gallo Images)

Norma Plummer’s charges’ unbeaten streak in the Netball World Cup ends, but they still have momentum.

Stumbling for the first time at the Netball World Cup, the Proteas fell in a 58-47 defeat to England in Liverpool on Thursday night, paving themselves perhaps the toughest of paths as they go in search of a place in the final.

With both South Africa and England having won their previous five matches of the tournament, they had already qualified for the semifinals, but their loss placed SA second in their group and they were set to meet defending champions Australia in the penultimate round on Saturday.

Australia, aiming for their 12th world title and their fourth in succession, edged out New Zealand earlier on Thursday, securing a narrow 50-49 victory to finish top of their group.

New Zealand, the silver medallists at the last three editions of the World Cup, were set to face Commonwealth Games champions England in the other semifinal.

And while they needed to win at least one of their two playoff matches this weekend to break a lengthy medal drought, Proteas coach Norma Plummer said the team’s success thus far had meant as much to her as it did to the players, after they reached the semifinals for the first time in 24 years.

After guiding her native Australia to World Cup titles in 2007 and 2011, Plummer had accepted the role as Proteas head coach in June 2015, and the team’s gradual improvement in recent years had evolved into a breakthrough performance at this week’s global showpiece.

“I think it means a lot to the players and it certainly means a lot to me,” Plummer said.

“I first came on board just to help out and next minute I was coaching the team, and they have worked extremely hard.

“With their attitude and ability, they have deserved everything that’s come their way.”

The Proteas squad needed to maintain their intensity, however, to give themselves a chance of stepping on the podium for the first time since the SA team earned the silver medal at the 1995 World Cup in Birmingham.

“They’ve got to keep producing it now,” Plummer said.Stumbling for the first time at the Netball World Cup, the Proteas fell in a 58-47 defeat to England in Liverpool on Thursday night, paving themselves perhaps the toughest of paths as they go in search of a place in the final.

With both South Africa and England having won their previous five matches of the tournament, they had already qualified for the semifinals, but their loss placed SA second in their group and they were set to meet defending champions Australia in the penultimate round on Saturday.

Australia, aiming for their 12th world title and their fourth in succession, edged out New Zealand earlier on Thursday, securing a narrow 50-49 victory to finish top of their group.

New Zealand, the silver medallists at the last three editions of the World Cup, were set to face Commonwealth Games champions England in the other semifinal.

And while they needed to win at least one of their two playoff matches this weekend to break a lengthy medal drought, Proteas coach Norma Plummer said the team’s success thus far had meant as much to her as it did to the players, after they reached the semifinals for the first time in 24 years.

After guiding her native Australia to World Cup titles in 2007 and 2011, Plummer had accepted the role as Proteas head coach in June 2015, and the team’s gradual improvement in recent years had evolved into a breakthrough performance at this week’s global showpiece.

“I think it means a lot to the players and it certainly means a lot to me,” Plummer said.

“I first came on board just to help out and next minute I was coaching the team, and they have worked extremely hard.

“With their attitude and ability, they have deserved everything that’s come their way.”

The Proteas squad needed to maintain their intensity, however, to give themselves a chance of stepping on the podium for the first time since the SA team earned the silver medal at the 1995 World Cup in Birmingham.

“They’ve got to keep producing it now,” Plummer said.

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