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Wales Can Take Positives Into Jamaica Test Insists Captain Nia Jones


By Hannah Blackwell

Wales captain Nia Jones believes her team can take confidence from their opening match at the Netball World Cup – despite a 61-50 defeat to hosts South Africa.

In their first appearance at the tournament for eight years, the Welsh Feathers produced a committed and tactically astute performance, but the margin they gave away in the opening quarter proved decisive.

“To be honest, the first quarter is what separated us in the end,” said Jones.

“We were really close, we won the second quarter which we were really happy with but it’s just about keeping the score competitive at times.

“I think we’ve got loads of positives we can take into Jamaica tomorrow, but what an honour to play in this opening match against a team like South Africa, and we can take huge confidence from the long periods in that game where we were really competitive.”

South Africa cleared the first hurdle in their campaign at a packed arena in Cape Town.

The Welsh Feathers didn’t only have to contend with the professionalism of the Proteas on the court but also the deafening roar of the home crowd in the stands.

There was cheering, dancing and singing throughout the 60-minute encounter that undoubtedly fuelled the home side’s determination to make their country proud.

Player of the tournament at the Netball World Cup 2019 in Liverpool, Karla Pretorius made her 99th appearance for the Proteas and was in great form, putting her impressive defensive abilities on full display.

South Africa had the height advantage over their opponents as well as the speed and agility across court.

The Proteas went into the lead 32-24, with Ine-Marie Venter having a stellar performance as goal shooter, finding the net time after time.

While most of the players settled well into their positions, Elmeré van der Berg seemed to struggle to find her feet.

Welsh defenders Ella Powell-Davies and Christina Shaw pounced on Van der Berg’s nervousness, keeping her from making her mark on the big stage.

Her shooting average of 50 per cent was clear evidence of that and she moved to the bench for the final two quarters of the match, being replaced by Nichole Taljaard.

Coach Norma Plummer also brought on Jeanté Strydom (for Shadine van der Merwe) who made her international debut for South Africa.

Wales didn’t make any substitutions until the third quarter with Nansi Kuti replacing Georgia Rowe at goal shooter.

It was also Kuti’s debut for Wales.

In the final stretch of the match, South Africa started pulling away, before winning 61 – 50 to the delight of their home crowd.


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