The South African SPAR netball Proteas reached the finals of the KwaZulu-Natal Diamond Challenge at the Ugu Sports Centre near Margate with a decisive 56-39 victory over Uganda on Thursday.
The victory meant South Africa went through the round robin stage of the competition without dropping a match. They will meet arch-rivals Malawi Queens in the final on Friday night who earlier on Thursday in a thrilling performance to thrashed Zambia 60-34 at the Ugu Sports Centre in Margate, South Africa.
The queens who rarely lost in Africa were on Wednesday humbled 33-43 by the South African SPAR netball Proteas in the group stages on, the Queens knew they had a job do to beat their neighbours to book a place in the final since Malawi were looking over their shoulders to close challenger Uganda Cranes.
The Queens started fast, playing their trademark quick passing and entertaining style and went 4-1 up early on.
The two sides showed similarities in terms of tactical approach and they were both quick on the attacks with swift, short passes.
However, the Malawi Queens had the upper hand, and with Sindie Simtowe recapturing her top form at a critical period, the Queens won the first quarter 15-8.
Sindie Simtowe deservedly won the player-of-the-match accolade.
The Zambians came stronger in the second half with goal shooter Lucy Jere proving a menace to the Malawi defence led by Captain Caroline Mtukule-Ngwira and Towera Vinkhumbo.
Zambia cut down Malawi’s lead to five baskets but the Malawi Queens restored control of the match with Takondwa Lwazi and Thandi Galeta helping the side weather the storm.
The Queens led 27-18 at halftime.
Queens’ coach, Peace Chawinga- Kalua introduced Grace Mwafulirwa for Joanna Kachilika in defence at the start of the third quarter and it was no longer a contest as the Queens’ soared to a 46-24 lead at the end of the quarter.
Netball Proteas captain Maryka Holtzhausen says they will not repeat the same mistakes they made against Uganda when they take on Malawi in the Diamond Challenge final at the Ugu Sports Centre in Margate, Kwazulu Natal on Friday.
The team will be looking to defend their Diamond Challenge trophy and Holtzhausen says they will not allow Malawi any space like they did against Uganda.