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06 July 2012 | in Netball, World University Championships

Hosts battle Their Way into WUC Netball Final

South Africa’s Goal Keeper Vanes-Mari du Toit in a tussle for the ball against Jamaica’s Goal Attack Naudia Brown in their semi-final match of the WUNC on Friday 6 July 2012

CAPETOWN - South Africa kept their composure to narrowly defeat Jamaica by two goals in their World University Netball Championships semi-final in Cape Town on Friday, July 6th.

The closely contested game finished 41-39 in front of a raucous crowd, which got louder and more animated as the clock ticked down. Jamaica came out hard at the start, while nerves got the better of the South Africans, who trailed 12-7 at the end of the first quarter. “I don’t know why but we started off slowly,” said SA University and Proteas goalkeeper Vanes-Mari du Toit. “I won’t say we underestimated them, but they [Jamaica] definitely came out with a bang.”

The home team received a pep talk at the break and came back fighting in the next quarter. With four minutes to go, SA levelled the scores at 17-17 and took the lead for the first time at 19-18. The momentum stayed with them long enough for South Africa to take a 22-18 lead going into the half-time break. The hosts fought gallantly against a physical Jamaican side, and held their ground to take a slim four-goal advantage, at 30-26, into the last quarter.

Jamaica’s Goal Shooter Vanessa Walker and Goal Attack Naudia Brown in action against South Africa’s Goal Defence Karla Mostert and Goal Keeper Vanes-Mari du Toit in the first match of the day of the WUNC on Friday

The Jamaicans never surrendered and the last five minutes was an extremely tense affair with only two goals separating the teams. Then, with the scores at 39-38 in South Africa’s favour, and one minute remaining, Du Toit made a crucial interception as the hosts clinched victory. “One of my teammates told me this morning that if you keep on working hard, and you never give up, you will get your just reward,” said Du Toit. “We worked hard the whole game and when the crunch time came, we took it. “Never say die, never quit.”

Du Toit said the noisy supporters lifted the team as they seldom turned out in front of a partisan crowd in their favour, with most of their international matches played overseas. “The crowd was awesome. I think I intercepted [the ball] just to hear the crowd again,” she joked. “Every time [goal attack] Maryka [Holtzhausen] put in one of those far balls, I caught a glimpse of the crowd. “They were jumping out of their seats with their hands in the air. It was amazing to be part of that. “People should start realising that netball can be a very exciting game and I hope they will come out and support us next week in our home series against Northern Ireland.”

South Africa’s Goal Shooter Melissa Myburgh fights for the ball against Jamaican Goal Defence Malysha Kelly in their semi-final match of the WUNC on Friday 6 July 2012.

A dispirited Jamaican captain, Trishell Williams, said nerves were the possible cause of their downfall at the end. “I’m not quite sure where it went wrong for us but we went all out and did our best,” Williams said. “I think our legs just got tired but we still fought our hardest and I’m very proud of the team. "Both teams played really well and perhaps we just got a bit anxious towards the end.”

For live streaming of the WUNC matches, please visit http://www.livestream.com/rugbyafricatv" href="http://www.livestream.com/rugbyafricatv">http://www.livestream.com/rugbyafricatv


(Source: Jenny Bernstein, Sapa - Picture credits: Barry Lamprecht/Image SA)