An inspired Ugandan side stunned hosts South Africa, beating them by two goals to secure 5th spot. In the playoff for 7th place it was Malawi who got the better of Tonga.
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Here is a short recap of the action we have seen so far today:
SOUTH AFRICA 47 - 49 UGANDA
Hosts South Africa played Uganda in an all-African showdown for 5th place on the final day at the Netball World Cup. While the Proteas secured a two-goal victory over the She Cranes in their final group game just three days earlier, the rising Ugandans got the better of them in the same fifth-place playoff almost a year ago to the day at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
Coming into the match, Uganda were already guaranteed their highest ever finish at a Netball World Cup – their previous best being seventh place in 2019 – and they took another massive step up in 2023, dethroning the South Africans as the top side in Africa to secure 5th spot with a 49-47 victory on Sunday.
The Ugandans came out showing their intent, turning over the first centre pass and racing to a four-goal lead before the South Africans could register on the scoreboard. Multiple unforced errors from the jittery Proteas saw them losing unnecessary possession and they spent much of the first period playing catchup. By the first break, the hosts had managed to close that gap to just one goal.
South African coach Norma Plummer switched Bongi Msomi to wing attack and the taller Izette Griesel to centre at the start of the second quarter as the South Africans slowly started swinging the momentum in their favour. But while the defenders earned plenty of turnovers – Jeanté Strydom particularly impressive in stealing two centre passes – the Proteas’ attack struggled to convert those into goals. Uganda continued to throw everything at the home side, with the scores level (23-23) at half-time.
The She Cranes came out looking the hungrier of the two sides in the third quarter which proved to be the decisive one. They took their time in their own attack, with Mary Cholhok and Irene Eyaru doing the business in the circle, and made the Proteas work hard for their goals.
The Ugandan defence did an excellent job of putting pressure on the usually reliable Nichole Taljaard, the star of South Africa’s draw with New Zealand earlier in the week. The goal attack was not at her best, throwing away plenty of ball and was pressured into taking fewer shots than normal.
Uganda headed into the final break with their noses in front but the Proteas managed to level matters at 40-40. The home team couldn’t push on from there, however. Yet another unforced error from the South Africans allowed Uganda to edge ahead and this time they didn’t look back, surging five goals in front at one stage. The She Cranes still held a two-goal lead heading into the final two minutes, and they slowed things right down, looking to hold on to possession to wind down the clock, and so securing a memorable 49-47 victory.
MALAWI 64 - 54 TONGA
Following their 56-51 win on Thursday, the Malawi team triumphed again against Tonga to finish 7th at the Netball World Cup 2023.
Tonga managed to establish a three-goal lead midway through the first 15 minutes by creating open spaces to move the ball into their goal circle. Defenders, Kelea Iongi and Lose Fainga’anuku, made things challenging for the Malawi shooters.
Malawi launched a strong counterattack, with Joyce Mvula and Mwai Kumwenda making sure of their attempts at goal. The Queens caught up and even took a two-goal lead, leading 17-16 by the end of the first quarter.
Tonga made changes to their starting lineup in the second quarter, introducing Salote Taufa at centre and veteran former Australian Diamond Mo’onia Gerrard at goal defence. Malawi increased their pace and Mvula’s movement out of the circle to collect passes led to more possession for Malawi. This allowed them to build a comfortable five-goal lead within eight minutes.
Malawi’s first substitution occurred just before halftime, with Jane Dambo replacing Grace Mwafulirwa on wing defence. This intensified pressure on Tonga’s attack, and Malawi led 33-29 at half-time.
The battle between centres Takondwa Lwazi and Hulita Veve continued in the third quarter. Both had been standout players for their teams throughout the tournament, excelling in both attack and defence.
Tonga improved their structured play and defence in the third quarter, closing the gap to just one goal after seven minutes. They outscored Malawi 15-12 in the quarter, keeping their hopes of victory alive.
Malawi’s line-up remained unchanged going into the fourth quarter, as the coaching staff stuck with what was working well. In the final seven minutes, Malawi secured more ball possession for their shooting circle and pulled ahead. With two minutes remaining, their lead stretched to 10 goals, which they maintained to the final whistle, so securing 7th spot in the tournament.