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Netball World Cup: Proteas need to be on top of their game in SF

After defeat to England in their final pool game, the Proteas will need to produce their best Netball against tournament favourites Australia.

Australia has dominated the sport for much of its history and are perennial favourites in every event they enter but the Proteas will be familiar with their style and many of their players.

A number of South Africa’s players ply their trade in Australia’s professional league and the Proteas coach Norma Plummer is herself an Aussie.

Proteas Wing Defence Shadine van der Merwe says South Africa will need to be switched on from the outset against the reigning World Champions.

“Saturday is go big or go home. For us, we need to start from the first centre pass to the last centre pass, going 100%,” van der Merwe said on Friday.

“A game against the Aussies is always a physical game. I think Norma (Plummer, the South Africa coach, who is from Australia) will be excited, going against her home team. 

“For us, going against the Aussies, it’s very important for us to keep possession of the ball and make sure our centre passes are executed into goals. If we get turnovers, we need to make sure we get that into goals. The team that makes the least mistakes is the one that will win on the day.”

Proteas having a blast at Netball World Cup

The Proteas have played above expectations and their victory over Jamaica in the first preliminary round has ensured they earned a spot among the top four teams in the world. South Africa’s ladies have thoroughly enjoyed the experience on and off the court. The last time South Africa reached the semi-finals of the World Cup was in the 1995 tournament when they ended as runners-up, to date their best effort at the NWC.

“We are having a blast, not just netball-wise but the vibe and the atmosphere here in Liverpool is great. We were here in January but it’s a much different atmosphere with all the people from different countries supporting netball. 

“It’s been amazing for us. It’s the first time in 25 years that we have made the semi-finals, so people back home will be proud of us.”

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Erin Burger of South Africa in action during the preliminaries stage two schedule match between England and South Africa at M&S Bank Arena on July 18, 2019 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

South Africa went down 47-58 in their match against England but van der Merwe believes the experience of facing the hosts ahead of the knockout phase will stand the Proteas in good stead.

“There is always room for improvement. Our main focus was on Saturday whatever happened (against England), but for us, it was good competitive netball throughout the 60 minutes – good preparation going into the semi-finals.

“Always going up against England is very physical, but I think (nowadays) it’s not a non-contact sport. It doesn’t matter who you’re going up against, it’s always going to be very physical and a challenge for both sides.”

The Netball World Cup semi-final between Australia and South Africa will start at 13:15 SAST on Saturday 20 July and will be broadcast live on Supersport 10 DSTV channel 210.

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