Wales 32 South Africa 84
Wales named four new senior internationals in their team against South Africa at the Viola Arena in Cardiff Bay.
The visitors, preparing for the Vitality World Cup in Liverpool later this month, won all four quarters and earned an emphatic victory.
This is, though, a transitional period for Wales, who did not qualify for the World Cup and are playing a Summer Test Series in Cardiff.
Wales’ new-look squad gained quality experience by taking on one of the World’s strongest teams.
Their match against South Africa was the first of six international matches for Wales, who take on South Africa again on Friday (start 8.30pm).
Wales also play Malawi, Trinidad and Tobago plus Grenada (twice).
Lucy Howells, a 24-year-old who played Superleague netball for Celtic Dragons last season, was in the Welsh starting seven for her first senior international appearance, while three other newbies, Chantelle Walker-Jones, Brooke Collett and Betsy Creak, were among the replacements.
Howells, originally from Pembrokeshire, started at wing-defence with team captain Nia Jones slotting in at goal-defence.
Walker-Jones is from Neath/Port Talbot and plays for Central Netball Club in Cardiff, while Nantyglo’s Brook Collett plays for Ystrad Mynach.
The fourth newcomer in this match was Betsy Creak, who is from Bristol and qualifies for Wales through her grandfather.
Cardiff Devils’ Viola Arena ice rink was transformed for the international netball series. A netball court was laid and a loud, passionate crowd cheered their team on.
There were huge roars of approval whenever Wales scored or achieved a turnover.
South Africa, ranked fifth in the World, selected a powerful team led by captain and wing-attack Bongi Msomi, who is preparing for her third World Cup.
Goal-attack Lenize Potgieter, who is 6ft 2ins tall, was a key player for South Africa, while goal-defence Karla Pretorius was outstanding.
Quarter scores (Wales first): 8-22; 8-20 (16-42); 9-19 (25-61); 7-23 (32-84).
Wales starting seven: GS Georgia Rowe, GA Eleanor Roberts, WA Bethan Dyke, C Kyra Jones, WD Lucy Howells, GD Nia Jones (Capt), GK Leila Thomas. Reps: Sara Bell, Brooke Collett, Betsy Creak, Suzy Drane (co-Capt), Chantelle Walker Jones.
South Africa starting seven: GS Lenize Potgieter, GA Maryka Holtzhausen, WA Bongi Msomi (Capt), C Erin Burger, WD Shadine van der Merwe, GD Karla Pretorius, GK Phumza Maweni. Reps: S Burger, K Chawane, I Griesel, R Stoltz & Z Vimbela
Umpires: Jackie Mizon and Ian Fuller (England)
Wales 15-player squad: Cathy Bastian (Dinas), Sara Bell (Central), Catrin Bowen (Cowbridge), Betsy Creak (Bristol Romans), Brooke Collett (Ystrad Mynach), Suzy Drane (Celtic Dragons), Bethan Dyke (Celtic Dragons), Kyra Jones (Celtic Dragons), Nia Jones (Celtic Dragons), Lydia Hitchings (Celtic Dragons), Lucy Howells (Celtic Dragons), Eleanor Roberts (Celtic Dragons), Georgia Rowe (Severn Stars), Leila Thomas (Team Bath), Chantelle Walker Jones (Central).
Summer test series in Cardiff
Thursday 4 Wales 32, South Africa 84
Friday 5 Wales v South Africa (Viola Arena, Cardiff Bay, 8.30pm)
Saturday 6 Northern Ireland v Trinidad and Tobago (Viola Arena, Cardiff Bay, 3pm)
Saturday 6 Wales v Malawi (Viola Arena, Cardiff Bay, 5pm – being broadcast live on S4C)
Sunday 7 Malawi v Northern Ireland (Viola Arena, Cardiff Bay, 3pm)
Sunday 7 Wales v Trinidad and Tobago (Viola Arena, Cardiff Bay, 5pm (being broadcast live on S4C)
Monday 8 Malawi v Trinidad and Tobago (Sport Wales National Centre, Cardiff, TBC)
Tuesday 9 Wales v Grenada (Sport Wales National Centre, Cardiff, 7.30pm)
Wednesday 10 Wales v Grenada (Sport Wales National Centre, Cardiff, 7.30pm)
Tickets for the Summer Test Series are available from welshnetball.ticketline.co.uk Tickets for each day’s match can be purchased up until 10am on the day of the game. Tickets are available on the door, but will cost slightly more.