A last-second goal from Lenize Potgieter denied the Vitality Roses a late win as the two sides played out an enthralling draw in Cape Town.
The Vitality Roses trailed going into the final quarter but fought back late on to take the lead only to be denied in the final seconds as the two teams were forced to settle for a rare draw at the Netball Quad Series.
Quarter one: Both teams came out full of energy, looking to lay down early markers in what could be a decisive game in the series. With Eleanor Cardwell taking a planned rest, the Vitality Roses were spearheaded by Helen Housby and Sophie Drakeford-Lewis up top. Immediately the pair were put under pressure as the Proteas gave them little space in the shooting circle. Despite the increased pressure on Housby, Drakeford-Lewis showed good composure to find the net from range as the Vitality Roses rotated in attack.
At the back of the court, Funmi Fadoju continued where she left off yesterday making four intercepts against the Australian Diamonds to register an early turnover with a catch in the middle of the circle. Soon after, Geva Mentor, playing in her first game of the series, stretched out her arm to deny Izette Griesel from finding Lenize Potgieter under the post. Within a few minutes, the Vitality Roses had opened up a five-goal lead.
But South Africa came back, re-organised themselves in defence and made it difficult for the Vitality Roses to continue their momentum. A couple of unforced errors helped the hosts move up the court on the break and with encouragement from a lively crowd, the Proteas took a one-goal lead with two minutes left to play.
Quarter two: Housby dropped to the bench and Olivia Tchine came into the circle as the Vitality Roses switched to a more targeted attack. After a frantic first quarter, both teams settled but it was the Proteas’ midcourt that was gaining an edge as Bongiwe Msomi and Shadine van der Merwe made it difficult for Imogen Allison and Nat Metcalf to establish any rhythm.
Midway through the quarter and Elle McDonald came on in place of Allison for her first minutes in the series and immediately helped to give the Vitality Roses some variation in attack. Despite a nervous start, Tchine began to build her confidence, converting more regularly under the post as the quarter went on. At the other end, Mentor found herself in a physical battle with Potgieter who was impressing for the Proteas, shooting 15/15 in the first half. With five minutes to go, the Vitality Roses drew back level as Drakeford-Lewis converted from range to help her side to an 11-10 quarter and level on the overall score going into the break.
Quarter three: South Africa Head Coach Norma Plummer, in charge for her 150th game as a coach, made a couple of changes at half time bringing Khanyisa Chawane in at wing attack and Monique Reyneke-Meyer at wing defence. Through these changes, the Proteas began to vary their attacking play, using Reyneke-Meyer’s range of passing from the middle of the court to deliver long balls into Potgieter who continued her hot form under the post, giving her side the lead once more and showing what she will bring to Manchester Thunder in the Netball Super League this season.
The Vitality Roses, down by three, fired themselves up and with Laura Malcolm and Housby on the court, they began to raise the tempo and put pressure on South Africa who tried to work the ball quickly on the break. But it was the South African defence that was causing England problems as they organised themselves well at the back and Phumza Maweni’s marking on Tchine made it hard for them to find the goals. To the delight of the home crowd, the Proteas took a three-goal lead going into the final quarter.
Quarter four: In search of their first win in a Netball Quad Series since 2019, the Proteas got the final quarter going. After making an impact in the third quarter with her energy, Chawane continued to hurry the Vitality Roses midcourt, helping to generate some unforced errors in South Africa’s favour. With the crowd on their feet, the Proteas pushed on and extended their lead to five with just eight minutes to go.
Allison returned to centre in place of McDonald as England pushed to claw their way back into the game. The Proteas tried to stay compact in defence but in doing so Maweni received a warning for continued contact on Tchine in the circle. Just moments later, after the Vitality Roses had found a way to level the score, Maweni produced a long-reaching intercept to stop the lead from changing hands and kept the Proteas on top with three minutes left to play.
Showing tremendous determination after falling to the floor, Allison ran back and flew through the air to make an intercept on the circle edge, helping to get the Vitality Roses on the attack and back on level terms. More drama followed as Maweni received a suspension, leaving South Africa with six players on court with a minute to play. As the clock ticked down, the Vitality Roses led by one but goal defender Pretorius managed to find a decisive turnover and with the last attack, the Proteas managed to find Potgieter in the circle who sank the decisive shot in the final seconds to level the match.
South Africa Proteas starting seven: Phumza Maweni (GK), Karla Pretorius (GD), Shadine van der Merwe (WD), Bongiwe Msomi (C), Izette Griesel (WA), Nichole Taljaard (GA), Lenize Potgieter (GS)
Substitutes: Khanyisa Chawane, Owethu Ngubane, Refiloe Nketsa, Monique Reyneke-Meyer, Ine-Mari Venter
Vitality Roses starting seven: Geva Mentor (GK), Funmi Fadoju (GD), Layla Guscoth (WD), Imogen Allison (C), Natalie Metcalf (WA), Sophie Drakeford-Lewis (GA), Helen Housby (GS)
Substitutes: Alice Harvey, Laura Malcolm, Elle McDonald, Olivia Tchine, Fran Williams
All of the games from the Netball Quad Series are being shown live on Sky Sports. The Vitality Roses return to action on Tuesday 24 January when they take on world champions New Zealand. Tune in on Sky Sports Arena, Mix and YouTube from 13:30.