Malawi Queens yesterday suffered a fifth consecutive loss to hosts South Africa’s Spar Proteas following a 35-40 defeat during the Diamonds Challenge Series finals at the Ugu Sports Centre in Margate, KwaZulu Natal.
It appeared as if the Queens were on their way to snatching the crown from the South Africans but the hosts’ last-ditch surge in the final quarter proved to be a stumbling block for the Malawians who led 11-6 and 22-19 in the first two quarters.
The Queens were the first to score four straight baskets through in-form SindiSimtowe before South Africa pulled one back in the first quarter. For once, the Queens kept the Proteas on the back-foot for the entire first quarter that saw Simtowe and Joyce Mvula only missing once and twice, respectively.
The Queens also opened the scoring in the second segment through Mvula to create a six-basket lead. But it was not so easy as it seemed as ToweraVinkhumbo-Nyirenda had to be warned for a number of contacts she committed as she tried hard to quell South Africa’s attacks.
Obviously, it was difficult for her to avoid such fouls as there was a thin line on playing fair and playing dirty following South Africa’s desperate attacks.
Despite that, the Queens’ attacking trio of ThandiGaleta, Simtowe and Mvula found their groove and there was a roar of appreciation from the crowd as they enjoyed some great moments of displaying skills and expertise to rest the game at 22-19 by half-time.
Nevertheless, they started awkwardly in the third quarter as they gave away a five-basket lead for the Proteas to level the score-line 24-24 at some point before losing the quarter 26-31.
But coach Peace Chawinga-Kalua attributed the loss to biased umpiring.
“The South Africans should thank the umpires for their victory. Balls were supposed to be intercepted, but they were just given to them. It was a painful loss,” she said.
The Queens lost 33-43 during group stages on Wednesday. They suffered a 43-47 in the 2012 Diamonds’ finals and 52-54 during the finals of the 2013 African Netball Championships before losing 22-30 during the Fast5 Netball Series in New Zealand last year and yesterday’s defeat was the fifth on the trot.
South Africa went into last evening’s pulsating final without dropping a match, having won all their three group stage encounters, including a 43-33 triumph over the Queens on Wednesday.
To reach the finals, South Africa beat Uganda 56-39 in their last group match while the Queens trampled upon Zambia with a 60-34 victory on Thursday. Uganda’s She-Cranes took the third position after beating Zambia’s She-polopolo 59-34 during the third-placed encounter. Zambia’s Lucy Jere won the player of the match accolade.
Probably, the Queens will make amends as they proceed to Namibia next weekend for the African Netball Championships.
Queens’ line-up had Joyce Mvula (GS), SindiSimtowe (GA), ThandiGaleta (WA), TakondwaLwazi (C), Grace Mwafulirwa-Mhango(WD), Carol Mtukule-Ngwira (GD), ToweraVinkhumbo-Nyirenda (GK).