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England claim third place at Quad Series with win over South Africa

England ended the Quad Series on a high with a 49-42 win over South Africa in the third-place play off.

Australia triumphed over New Zealand 56-50 in the gold medal match, but in the earlier game, the Proteas pushed the Roses all the way before a defensive masterclass moved England into an unassailable lead in the final quarter. 

The players have done all they can to put their hands up for World Cup selection on the international stage, but plenty more chances will come when the Netball Super League returns on 11 February. 

Potgieter + Plummer = game face 

Lenize Potgieter was the only NSL star in the starting seven for South Africa, but she more than made up for it. 

Continuing from her 100% shooting record yesterday, the Manchester Thunder recruit was perfect again for South Africa in the first half as she brought her side back into the game. 

England had sunk six unanswered goals to build a promising lead, but Potgieter’s impeccable shooting pulled the Proteas back to 12-12 at quarter-time. 

The goal shooter remained calm and collected each time, no sign of a smile just like her head coach the veteran Norma Plummer who remains one win away from 100 as an international head coach. 

England boss Jess Thirlby made an early change in the second quarter, bringing on Olivia Tchine for Helen Housby, which paid dividends as London Pulse’s Tchine roamed free out of the shooting circle providing Eleanor Cardwell all the space in the world to move England two goals ahead at half-time. 

Defensive dynamo

While Tchine provided space in the shooting the circle, her London Pulse teammate Funmi Fadoju was brought on to suffocate the Proteas attack alongside Geva Mentor and Team Bath’s Imogen Allison. 

Across the game, Fadoju put in six gains and four intercepts which saw England maintain their two-goal lead in the third quarter, before she was given a test in the final quarter as Ine-Mari Venter was brought on with 10 minutes to go. 

The Saracens Mavericks and Pulse players renewed their local rivalry on the global stage and while Venter was an aerial threat in the circle, Fadoju was a menace across the court and helped power the Roses to the win and the bronze medal. 

For South Africa, the wait for a Quad Series medal goes on, but they were buoyed by the vociferous crowds that will return for the World Cup which starts in July. 

Clarke doubles up 

At the beginning and the end of the match, Jade Clarke was on the court to well and truly earn her 200th England cap, becoming the first Rose, and only second player, to pass that milestone. 

It is a career that has included five World Cups, four Commonwealth Games, one Commonwealth gold, the England captaincy, five Netball Super League clubs and one NSL title. 

Player of the match Fadoju paid tribute to Clarke: “200 caps, can we recognise how amazing that is? She is a brilliant person.  

“On court, I know I can trust her with everything, she’ll tell me where to go and it is just amazing to be behind her.” 

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