The SPAR Baby Proteas overcame a feisty Zimbabwe to record their second victory at the World Netball Youth Cup in Gaborone, Botswana, on Sunday, beating their northern neighbours 56-42 after leading 28-22 at halftime.
Zimbabwe came out storming and went into an early lead, leaving the South Africans slightly shell-shocked. But by the middle of the first quarter, the Baby Proteas had eased past to lead by 14 goals to 10 at the first break.
The match was very physical, and supporters of both teams got into the spirit of things, chanting slogans and blowing vuvuzelas.
The second quarter was fairly even, with neither side able to dominate. They generally managed to hold their centre passes, but both teams achieved some excellent turnovers, with the ball moving from end to end.
In the third quarter, Zimbabwe managed to reduce the goal deficit to two, before the South Africans clawed their way back into the game and extended the margin to six goals.
However, the Zimbabweans appeared to wilt in the final quarter, as the Baby Proteas took control of the court. The Zimbabwean coach brought on a string of substitutes to provide fresh legs, but by this time the Baby Proteas had surged ahead, leaving Zimbabwe with too much to do.
SA coach, Dorette Badenhorst, said she had expected a tough and very physical match and had selected her team accordingly.
‘We played them in the qualifiers and I knew what to expect, so I chose players who were able to stand up to the physicality,’ she said.
‘I am very pleased we have a day off now, so we can recover and prepare for our matches against Singapore and Australia on Tuesday and Wednesday.’
The Baby Proteas had got their World Youth Cup campaign off to the best possible start on Saturday, with a crushing 62-30 win over Barbados.
Badenhorst’s team showed their intent from the start, racing to a nine-goal lead at the end of the first quarter. By halftime, SA were ahead 33-14. With a substantial lead, Badenhorst was able to bring on her bench players after the break.
Barbados fought back in the third quarter, restricting South Africa to 12 goals and scoring 11 – their highest total in the match, but it was back to normal service in the final quarter, with the South Africans outscoring the islanders by 17 goals to 5.
The South African attack was in good form and the defenders were very effective, particularly in the circle. Badenhorst was delighted with the result.
‘It’s a great start and a confidence booster for the rest of the tournament,’ she said. ‘We didn’t know much about Barbados, but they came seventh at the last Youth World Cup, so I expected a harder fight.
‘Our girls showed a lot of character, and I am very proud of them. It is always good to start with a win and we are very excited about the rest of the tournament.’