Spar Proteas set sights on semis after thrilling draw against champs

Following a hard-fought and pulsating draw against defending champions New Zealand, the Spar Proteas are now in contentions to progress to the semi-finals of Netball World Cup.

South Africa and New Zealand produced a match of the tournament so far, playing out to a thrilling 48-48 draw in front of a packed Cape Town Convention Centre on Wednesday.

With the raucous local crowd effectively an extra member of the team, the Proteas came close to beating the Silver Ferns for only the second time in World Cup history.

For the Proteas to progress to the semi-finals, Jamaica would have to beat New Zealand while South Africa would have to do the same against Uganda on Thursday afternoon.

However, the goal percentage could prove a stumbling block for South Africans, as they will have to win the match with a large margin.

Goal attack Nichole Taljaard earned her second Most Valuable Player award of the tournament. It was her shot, with three seconds left in the match, that levelled the score.

Taljaard had an outstanding match, occupying space in the goal circle well with her ability to shoot from further away a distinct advantage.

She was also calm under massive pressure of facing the reigning world champions. 

The final 15 minutes of the match saw the Proteas throw everything at the Silver Ferns.

Defenders Phumza Maweni and Karla Pretorius made several brilliant steels on the one end while Elmere van der Berg and Taljaard kept the scoreboard ticking at the other.

With four minutes left on the clock, Proteas needed three goals to pull off something special and the atmosphere at the venue reached fever pitch.

The ball was fed to Taljaard, and she made sure to sink what must probably be the most important goal of her career.

Proteas coach Norma Plummer said the game against Uganda will be a different when they take to the court at 4pm.


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