| The Diamond Challenge in Polokwane,
The SA President’s XII netball team continued their flawless run at the Diamond Challenge in Polokwane, notching up their second win at the Ngoako Ramatlhodi Sports Complex on Wednesday.
Having just edged out Zambia in a closely contested opening game on Tuesday, the young SA side’s second encounter against Namibia was a much less nerve-wracking one for coach Jenny van Dyk.
The home side dominated from the start, playing the first quarter at a furious pace to race out to a 20-9 lead. They simply built the lead from there to finish as 61-31 winners.
“We felt better about everything, especially the first quarter. We were sinking those goals and the girls were connecting,” explained SA President’s XII captain Jessica Khomo. “We just said we need to get on with the job and the girls did it.
“The coach’s instructions are very simple and very clear so it was easy to execute and we’re happy that we dominated from the start. Starting off strong definitely brought the morale and confidence up for the girls.”
They’ll certainly need that confidence on Thursday when the team of up-and-coming young stars take on the SPAR Proteas in their next match.
“It’s going to be a very tough one. We respect the Proteas because they are our first team in the country but we aren’t going to sit back for that,” said Khomo. “We are here to grow and get game time and get that international experience, so it’s fantastic to be able to play with a team of that calibre and we’re not going to take it lightly.”
Earlier in the day, neighbours Zambia and Zimbabwe fought a tight battle. The Zimbabweans, who claimed an opening win against Botswana on Tuesday, looked to be continuing their form when they led 13-12 at the first break.
The Zambians came back at them in the second quarter, however, to edge ahead 26-24 by half time. It was still tight in the third quarter, but heading towards the end of the period, the Zambians managed to build on their lead to reach the final break six goals up.
It’s a gap they maintained to the end of the match, finishing with a scoreline of 57-51, for their first win of the tournament, after going down to the SA President’s XII previously.
Zambian centre and captain Elizabeth Bwalya said afterwards: “We’re excited. It feels great to get our first win of the tournament. We had never played the President’s XII so in our first game, we didn’t know how they played, but we’ve played Zimbabwe on several occasions so we know how they play. I think that was the difference today. Yesterday we lost a lot of our balls so we talked a lot about that and managed to keep the ball.”
The SPAR Proteas were due on court in the last game of Wednesday’s Diamond Challenge action. They’re up against Botswana, who have yet to beat the South African side.