THE NATIONAL netball team lost to hosts South Africa in the second match of the Diamond Challenge international netball series in Port Elizabeth on Monday.
Zimbabwe were thumped 64-36 in a match the local women struggled in from start to finish.
Following their historic 39-34 win over arch rivals Zambia in the opening match on Saturday, Zimbabwe were looking for another giant killing act against the Proteas, but were just not in the same league as their hosts.
The gap in class was evident from the start as South Africa outscored their northern neighbours in each of the four quarters to underline their status as the best team in Africa.
“We were beaten by a better team,” Zimbabwe coach Ledwine Dondo admitted after the game, while captain Perpetua Siachitema stated that the “SA’s play was much faster than ours.”
Proteas coach Elize Kotze and technical coach Elsje Jordaan could not have asked for a better performance as the invitational team, who had been together for less than a week, dominated all facets of the game.
They were a more organised team playing at a much higher tempo from the start.
Zimbabweans employed their usual slow and more patient build-up, even moving the ball back to halfway when on the verge of the goal mouth and this allowed South Africa opportunities to turn over the ball and punish the opponents.
The South African defence was rarely placed under sustained periods of pressure and was able to snuff out most of the attacking threats, turn over and score.
The pace picked up in the second quarter as Zimbabwe tried to claw their way back into the match. But this left gaps in wide areas which SA exploited at will and Zimbabwe were unable to keep up with the faster brand of netball.
Half-time couldn’t come soon enough as the SA team racked up a 32-14 lead, and with it killed the match as a contest at least.
Dondo said the difference on the day was more psychological.
“The approach to the game was very poor. There was no confidence and it was just different from yesterday. They were beaten before they took to the court. The movement was poor,” Dondo said.
In contrast, Kotze said while there were areas that needed to be addressed, she couldn’t have been be more proud of her young team.
“I was really impressed how these girls adapted having been together for a short space of time. These are talented young players, enthusiastic young players,” she said.
South Africa and Zambia were set to clash last night and if the Proteas won, they would engage Zimbabwe in the final match today.