Malawi Queens yesterday began their test matches on a poor note, going down 93-48 to hosts South Africa at Bloemhof High school Indoor Court in Cape Town.
A 45-basket margin defeat is the worst against South Africa’s Spar Proteas. Prior to the defeat, the Queens had a record 41-basket margin loss against the Spar Proteas following a 69-28 beating in an international friendly match in November 2020.
The latest result comes a few days after the Queens won the recent Cosana Tri-Nations Cup in Blantyre after registering six-straight wins against 13th-ranked Zimbabwe and 22nd-ranked Namibia.
Malawi coach Peace Chawinga-Kaluwa featured a strong starting line-up in the unique five-quarter clash, but according to updates on netballforum.co.za the Queens hardly troubled the South Africans, who dominated the battle.
One of the posts read: “A one-sided match. Malawi Queens were on the back foot for the better part of the training game and moved sluggishly to counter the pacy and inventive Proteas.”
New Zealand-bound shooter Joyce Mvula, goal-attacker Jane Chimaliro and wing-attacker Thandie Galeta started for the Queens alongside centre Takondwa Lwazi-Mtonga, wing-defender Martha Dambo, goal- defender Towera Vinkhumbo-Nyirenda and goalkeeper Laureen Ngwira.
Queens trailed by seven baskets in the first quarter that ended 17-10 before the hosts increased their lead to 34-23 in the second stanza.
The Spar Proteas slowly but surely took their lead to insurmountable levels in the subsequent segments as they led 51-34 and 73-42 in the third and fourth quarters respectively, before registering 45-margin win.
The development means Queens are yet to beat South Africa in conventional netball since August 2015, when they won 58-51 during the Netball World Cup.
The Queens will take on third-ranked England’s Roses today before facing South Africa again on July 2.
Although the matches against the two higher-ranked teams will not be considered for World Netball rankings, they will give the Queens a real test on their preparedness ahead of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England this July.
At the Commonwealth Games, the Queens are in a tough group, which includes third-ranked England and fourth-ranked Jamaica.
On the wide-margin defeat, Chawinga-Kaluwa defended her charges, saying the priority was not to win to try new combinations.
She said: “We got what we wanted because in this game we were trying different combination.
“These are training matches. We are fine-tuning for the Commonwealth Games. Some combinations worked while others didn’t, leading to the big margin loss. However, we feel we are on the right track. The positives we can draw from this game are that some new players did well.”
She added that Mvula, who did not play in the recent Cosana Tri-Nations Cup, fitted well in the system and that her partnership with the other players was good.