The South African netball team narrowly lost to Australia by just two goals in the semi-final of the 2019 Netball World Cup in Liverpool. The Proteas, playing in their first semi-final since 1995, produced a gutsy performance only to lose 55-53 to defending champions, Australia.

The Australians were favourites to win having won all of their previous 39 matches against the Proteas, but it was the Proteas who started well with Lenize Potgieter opening the scoring after some flawless play by the South Africans.

However, the Diamonds turned the tables on the Proteas after an interception saw them take possession and make it count by scoring to lead 8-7.

The Australians led 14-10 at the end of the first quarter. The Diamonds stretched their lead by four more goals to lead 31-23 at half-time.

But the South Africans outscored Australia in the third quarter to slash their lead to 43-39, a lead of just four goals. It was a brilliant comeback for the Proteas against the number one ranked side whose players compete regularly in a fully-professional league.

The Proteas had opportunities to take the lead in the third quarter, but made silly mistakes and easily lost possession. But they picked themselves up and gave everything to take it down to the wire.

However, it was a case of so near yet so far for the Proteas. The Diamonds were relieved when the match ended 55-53 in their favour; the best result for the Proteas against Australia.

Proteas coach Norma Plummer says that she is pleased with their performance.

“We just didn’t place the ball right in some pressure situations. We are still not out of it; we will play for the medal. I am really pleased with their performance.”

The Proteas will play England in a bronze medal match on Sunday after the Roses lost 47-45 to New Zealand’s Silver Ferns in the other semi-final. The Silver Ferns will play Australia in the final.