Last year’s silver medallists, the Jaguars, thumped the defending champions, the Free State Crinums 48-37 in their Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League match at the Durban University of Technology on Saturday.
The Gauteng North side were in control throughout the match. At halftime, they were 29-20 ahead, and they extended their lead in the second half.
Jaguars coach Jenny van Dyk said it was too early in the competition to read anything into their victory.
“We are taking it one match at a time, and I am going to be trying out different combinations as the tournament goes on. I have a very competitive squad – so much so that I have difficulty picking out the seven players to start, because they are all playing at a very high level,” she said.
Burta de Kock, coach of the Crinums, was sanguine about the defeat. The Crinums have lost to the Jaguars in round robin action before, but they have beaten them in every final since the NPL started in 2014.
“I am really not concerned about the loss. We will go back to basics, and get those things right.”
“What I am looking for is consistency,” she said.
Earlier, the Southern Stings fought their way back to beat the Golden Fireballs 46-39 in what many believe to be a rehearsal for the final in June. The Fireballs went into the lead and stayed there until halftime (22-19), but after the break, the team from the Western Cape stepped up a gear. They drew level four minutes into the third quarter. The two teams exchanged goal for goal and were level on 31-all going into the final quarter, before the Stings pulled away from the Gauteng team.
“We’re very happy to have won today, but I think the Fireballs are going to get better and better as the tournament goes on. I am glad we played them early on,” said Stings coach Annette Lucas.
“Our starting line-up took the punches in the early part of the match, but I am happy that I was able to play my whole bench.”
“They managed to disrupt our rhythm and we weren’t able to stick to the game plan,” said Fireballs coach Elsje Jordaan.
“But I am happy with what I have seen, and I think we lost the match, rather than them winning it.”
It was a one-way street for the North West Flames, who crushed the Northern Cape Diamonds 73-20. It was 10 minutes before the Diamonds scored their first goal, by which time the Flames were 18 goals ahead. The Diamonds scored just two goals in the first quarter, and were trailing 41-7 at halftime.
Diamonds coach Maria Meyer said she was not too disappointed with her team’s overall performance, although she was very disappointed by the way they started.
“Most of them have never played at this level, and were very nervous. I am sure they will improve as the tournament goes along.”
Flames coach Dorette Badenhorst was pleased to have started with a relatively easy match, which enabled her to play her whole squad.
“A lot of my team were bench players last year, and have had to step up into the starting combination this year.
“There are still a few things we need to work on, but overall I am pretty happy,” said Badenhorst.
In Sunday’s matches, the Jaguars play the Mpumalanga Sunbirds at 10.30, and the Crinums meet the Fireballs at 12.30.