SOUTH Africa scored a convincing 47-33 victory over Fiji in the final of the Spar Tri-nations netball challenge at the Rembrandt Hall at Pretoria University on Saturday afternoon.
The Proteas drew 49-all with Fiji in a tense and exciting match in their league encounter on Thursday night, but in the final, South Africa led from start to finish.
The Proteas were revitalised by the return of vice captain Precious Mthembu - she had missed the first two games because of injury.
Elzet Engelbrecht returned to her position at goal defence, but had to be replaced by Amanda Mynhardt after injuring a leg halfway through the second quarter.
Fiji appeared to be suffering the effects of playing three matches in three days, as well as the altitude, and were unable to maintain the pace they had played at against South Africa on Thursday and Botswana on Friday.
Chrisna Bootha once again had an outstanding game as goal shooter, with her accuracy not affected by a hard blow on the head when she collided with one of the Fijian players. She was named player of the tournament.
South Africa went into the lead from the start, and never appeared in any danger of relinquishing it. In the final quarter, the flagging Fijians were unable to score until the eighth minute.
Fiji coach Melissa Walker said she was disappointed with her team's performance, but she did not want to take anything away from the way South Africa had played.
"They were more disciplined and more focused than we were," Walker said.
Proteas coach Carin Strauss was delighted.
"This win means we will definitely move up in the world rankings," she said. "We may go to five, but we will definitely move up to six.
"We all knew, when Chrisna [Bootha] got the first goal in, that we were going to be on top of our game. I was also very pleased with our defensive play - they defended for the full 60 minutes." - Sapa