Despite stunning England 27-23 earlier on, Malawiâ€™s Queens were on Saturday booted out of the Fast5 Netball World Series by continental rivals South Africaâ€™s Proteas 48-34 at Vector Arena in Auckland, New Zealand.
The solace, though, was that the Queens bowed out with their heads held high after impressive wins over defending champions England and Australiaâ€”they certainly scaled new heights.
In the game against South Africa monitored on SuperSport 4, the Queens were relentlessly torn apart. The Proteas were inspired by gangly shooter Christina Botha, who was on fire from all over the circleâ€”converting three-pointers without hardly breaking sweat.
Malawi trailed 8-7 in the first quarter and when the Proteas introduced the towering Botha, it became a tall order for the Queens and to make matters worse, Australia-based professional shooter Mwawi Kumwenda was guilty of terrible wastage and fluffed several scoring opportunities.
The outstanding player for the Queens was Sindi Simtowe whose sheer quality once again shone like a beacon, she was simply a marvel to watch.
At half time, South Africa led 17-15 and in the third quarter, they engaged an extra gear and led comfortably 43-28.
The Queens tried to reorganise themselves in the last quarter, but sadly, it was too little, too late.
And so it is the South Africans who progress to the semifinals of the event slated for this Sunday.
The tie against England was a wonderful game, a richly breathtaking contest that shredded the nerves of the fans at the arena and the scenes after the final whistle were a wonder to beholdâ€”an impromptu huddle of the victorious Queens kneeling in the middle of the court, praising the Lord with their clenched fists to the sky as if to say: â€œThank you Lord! Thank you Almighty!â€
It was an unmistakable symbol of intense team spirit that has also seen them beat Australia on Friday morning.
Malawi had proven to be the darling of the fans at the showpiece and apart from some Malawians who hoisted national flags inscribed â€˜Malawi moto!â€™ they enjoyed massive support from the turnout.
Inspired by captain Caroline Mtukule-Ngwira, the Queens got off to a bright start against England and led 9-7 in the first quarter.
It really mattered less that the Queens had lost 44-24 to tournament favourites New Zealand earlier on. They were simply in a magnificent form powered by their traditional unorthodox style.
A jubilant Jona Kachilika was at a loss of words after the match monitored on SuperSport 4, screaming: â€œWe are happy to have beaten England, very happy because it is the first time to achieve this feat.â€
In the game against New Zealand, it was a clinical performance from the Ferns, who took a 10-5 lead at the end of the first spell, with two super shots from Maria Tutaia. But it was their third-quarter power play where they made their break on a subdued Malawi side, going into the final period 33-12 ahead.
Malawi have played five games at the tournament, winning twice and losing thrice to Jamaica, New Zealand and South Africa.