Hosts South Africa snatch a dramatic 46-46 draw with England on day two of the Netball Quad Series being held in Cape Town, while Australia stayed unbeaten with a narrow win over New Zealand.
While Australia have won two of two games at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, the competition behind them is steep, with NZ and England boasting one win.
After the scores had been tied at half-time, South Africa pulled out a three-point lead going into the final quarter, but England came back to lead entering the final seconds in Cape Town.
However, despite being a player down for the closing stages after Phumza Maweni had been dismissed for overly aggressive defending, South Africa levelled as Lenize Potgieter showed great composure to sink the final shot of the game.
The result leaves England without a win after two games, having lost Saturday’s opener to Australia, and with their fate out of their hands. To reach the final, England will need to beat New Zealand on Tuesday and hope other results go their way.
“I think we had a moment to win that game, and that’s really hard to take,” England captain Natalie Metcalf said.
The Roses made a bright start, as Funmi Fadoju maintained her brilliant defensive play to help open up an early five-goal lead.
However, South Africa responded well, and took advantage of a couple of England errors to hold a 13-12 lead at the end of the quarter, much to the delight of a vociferous home crowd.
A more steady second quarter saw Potgieter pace South Africa’s scoring, ending the half having made all 15 attempts, but England were able to level the score at 23-23.
South Africa came out for the second half with greater intensity, and strong defensive play helped them establish a three-goal lead going into the final 15 minutes.
In the final quarter the scores were level before Maweni received a suspension, which the Roses immediately took advantage of to take the lead.
England then denied South Africa’s first attempt to equalise, but then failed to score against their weakened opponents, offering up one last chance, with which Potgieter made no mistake.
Australia later guaranteed their place in the final by making it two wins from two with a narrow 59-57 victory over New Zealand.
Stephanie Wood produced a clinical display in attack to give the Diamonds the opportunity to rotate their line-up against South Africa on Tuesday.
The result leaves New Zealand, England and South Africa vying for a place in the final in Tuesday’s closing pool-stage games, with goal difference potentially the deciding factor.
The tournament is providing the perfect opportunity for the sides to prepare for the World Cup, which takes place in Cape Town in July and August.