South Africa eke out victory over Uganda as Malawi hold on against Tonga
Thursday, 3 August 2023: Hosts South Africa had the vocal home crowd on the edge of their seats as they just managed to pip Uganda by two goals to secure third spot in Group G. In the other match of the evening, fellow Africans Malawi held on for victory against Tonga to make sure of third place in Group F.
SOUTH AFRICA 52 – 50 UGANDA
South Africa avenged their 2022 Commonwealth Games loss to Uganda by beating the She Cranes 52-50 in a Pool G match at the Netball World Cup 2023 in Cape Town.
The result ended the Proteas’ hopes of progressing to the semifinals as they needed to secure an unlikely victory margin of more than 64 goals and keep their opponents from scoring more than 20 to make that happen.
Goal attack Ine-Mari Venter had a better start compared to Wednesday’s match against New Zealand, being successful with all her attempts. Uganda however struggled with short passes around their own goal circle.
Uganda’s star shooter, Mary Cholhok, found it challenging against South Africa’s Phumza Maweni. The Protea defender had Cholhok properly boxed in with little room to stamp her authority.
South Africa’s swift ball movement across the court troubled Uganda, preventing them from executing their attacking style effectively. During the second quarter, South Africa extended their lead to 10 goals, with Maweni continuing to disrupt Cholhok.
Uganda made their first substitutions 10 minutes before halftime, but that didn’t have any effect as the South Africans went into the break 33-19 in front.
The third quarter was entirely dominated by Uganda, as they outscored South Africa by nine goals (17-8), finding their rhythm and quickly narrowing the gap.
In the final quarter, Uganda came out onto the court clearly intent on snatching the victory away from the hosts. And they almost did. Having been 12 goals down at one point, they managed to equalise the score at 42-all within four minutes.
The match became physical at times, something Uganda coach Fred Mugerwa commented on afterwards.
A crucial intercept under the Uganda goal post by goal defence Nicola Smith turned the ball back to the South African goal circle and the Proteas managed to secure a 52-50 win.
Proteas captain Bongi Msomi said her side went into the game against Uganda to give it their all in an attempt to reach the semifinals.
“At halftime it felt like we still had a chance. You always have a chance until you don’t have. At this stage it’s disappointing, We have to focus on keeping our ranking because Uganda is really good. If we are going to come up against them again, they are going to come hard.”
Mugerwa said they underestimated the way the match would play out.
“It was a bit physical and that’s why we were trailing by 14 goals at halftime. When we went to the dressing room I told the girls to be a bit harder and not lose hope, we have to fight for the country. And we recovered, it is unfortunate that we couldn’t take it.”
Q2: 33-19 (17-8)
Q3; 41-36 (8-17)
Q4: 52-50 (11-14)
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Shadiah Nassanga (Uganda)
TONGA 51 – 56 MALAWI
Tonga took on Malawi for the first time at a Netball World Cup in the match to determine third and fourth place in Group F. It was the Malawi Queens who emerged victorious, claiming the 56-51 win.
Having secured the win, Malawi will now play fourth place in Group G, Uganda, while Tonga go on to play the third-placed team in the same group, South Africa. The winners of these matches will play off for fifth and sixth place.
Tonga got away to a fast start, leading by three goals at one point, but the Malawi Queens came back at them in what was, as predicted, a physical encounter. The scores were level on 13-13 at the first break.
It was a completely different story at the start of the second quarter, however, with Tonga taking over five minutes to score their first goal, while Malawi suddenly upped the energy and speed to race into a significant lead.
Tonga brought on former Silver Ferns star Cat Tuivaiti at goal shooter and Salote Taufa at wing attack to try and steady the ship but the damage had been done at the start of the quarter. Tonga did, however, manage to reduce the deficit, heading into halftime just five goals down.
Former Australian Diamonds player Mo’onia Gerrard was also brought on for Tonga at the start of the third quarter while Malawi lost stalwart Mwai Kumwenda to an apparent injury midway through the period. There was just one goal difference in the quarter score (15-14) but Malawi still enjoyed a six-goal lead at the final break.
Kumwenda was back in action at the start of the final quarter but the Malawians looked to be tiring somewhat, making for an exciting period of play in which the Tongans looked to take advantage. With both sets of singing fans in full voice on opposite sides of the court, it was the Malawians who were left celebrating the loudest as their team wrapped up a 56-51 win – all the damage having been done at the start of that second quarter.
Speaking after the match, Malawi coach Sam Kanyenda said: “Fortunately we’ve played Tonga before. We played them this year when we went for the [PacificAus] series in Australia so we had a view of how they play.
“That time around we only used locally based players so they beat us and we knew if we went soft on them, then the game was going to be tough on us. So we had a gameplan whereby we said we go tough on them… I’m very happy for today’s win.”
As for Friday’s showdown with Uganda, Kanyenda added: “Our game is not like that played of other countries but tomorrow’s match will be a very tough match because we’re almost playing a similar pattern of play.”
Giving her thought on where Malawi got the edge over her side, Tonga coach Pori-Makea-Simpson said: “They get this beautiful fluency in their attack end. They’re very, very patient with the ball and they play a short game which can be difficult defensively and for us we like an offline game. We had to change that up and we did struggle to actually slow down their short game but I’m so proud of the effort our girls put out there. It’s quite remarkable given their inexperience.”
Q2: 26-31 (13-18)
Q3: 40-46 (14-15)
Q4: 51-56 (11-10)
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Towera Vinkhumbo (Malawi)