Samoa's dream of finishing inside the top six at the Netball World Championships in Auckland are over after they went down to South Africa 50 - 54 today.
South Africa captain Bronwyn Bock-Jonathan said it was a relief to get past Samoa who lead the game for brief moments this afternoon.
"Today was absolutley crucial, not only for our ranking, but coming back after losing to England and the Silver Ferns and showing a lot of character," Bock-Jonathan said.
She said the team was static at times and they had to work on getting rid of the ball at pace.
"We were leading in the first quarter and let it slip in the second but to come back in the third and the last really showed guts on the girls' behalf," Bock-Jonathan said.
South African coach Burta de Kock said there is a lot of trust amongst the team who stuck to their own game plan.
"We are not used to this incredible physical fight, not everyday or every season. So for us to come up against it now it's just, you know, stay focused," de Kock said.
She said the Samoans "played awesome" but the Africans were expecting a fight.
De Kock conceeded that the South African shooting could be improved and goal shoot Sindisiwe Gumede did miss a few goals.
"We must always improve, fortunately Sindisiwe with her height got the rebounds but it gave me a heart attack," she said.
South Africa will meet Malawi, who today ran the legs off a tired-looking Cook Islands outfit for a 61-47 win, in the playoff for fifth and sixth tomorrow.
Cook Islands coach, former Silver Fern Ana Noovao, said the loss was disappointing.
"The game plan didn't go the way we would have liked - we had to make a few rotations because there were a few weary bodies out there.
"Malawi played a very simple, old-style netball game. They threw the unexpected long ball, ran shoulder to shoulder on defence and came through for unexpected intercepts.
"They were a lot more hungry than us. Their mental toughness was a lot sharper than ours."
In other games, Singapore recorded their first win of the tournament with a 59-44 victory over Malaysia in the play-off for 15th and 16th, profiting from the extra height brought to the shooting circle by a heavily bandaged Li Ling.
Eighth-ranked Fiji secured ninth place with an emphatic 65-20 victory over a tired-looking Botswana while Trinidad and Tobago had to work every inch of the way to hold off Wales 48-45 for 11th place. And in the play-off for 13th and 14th, Barbados downed a brave Scotland 51-45.
- NZ HERALD STAFF, NZPA