The Telkom Netball League match between the only two teams to have won the League, the Free State Crinums and the Gauteng Jaguars, lived up to its billing of the match of the day at the Pretoria University Sports Centre on Friday. The defending champions, the Jaguars, won the match by 44 goals to 42, after leading 23-21 at halftime.
The match was played at a furious pace, with the ball moving from end to end as the defenders on both sides turned the ball and snatched the rebounds. Veteran former Proteas goalshooter Chrisna van Zyl showed her maturity, remaining calm under pressure, despite the good work of Crinums goalkeeper Ane Retief and goal defence Tanya von Berg. She was well supported by Chantelle Swart at goal attack.
After the first quarter, the Jaguars were 12-9 ahead, but the Crinums rallied and won the next two quarters, 11-12 and 13-12. Midway through the third quarter, the Crinums drew level 28-28), but the Jaguars stepped up a gear and pulled away. At the end of the quarter, the Jaguars were just one goal ahead (35-34), but the Crinums levelled the score off the first centre pass of the final quarter. At one stage, the teams traded goal for goal, but in the final minutes, it was the Jaguars who managed to get the ball in their circle and make sure of victory.
“I was so pleased with the way the players stood up to the pressure,” said Jaguars coach Jenny van Dyk.
“The Crinums kept coming at them, but they just never gave up. What was special was that it was a real team effort.”
Crinums coach Burta de Kock said she was very proud of her team of youngsters.
“They played well under pressure and everyone played their part. They went off the game plan slightly, but they did so well,” she said.
Playing with freedom and joie de vivre, the Eastern Cape Aloes outplayed the Limpopo Baobabs, beating them 58-42. The Aloes led throughout and the Baobabs never looked likely to beat them, despite some good work by their defenders and their shooters. At the end of the first quarter, the Aloes were 14-8 ahead. The two teams shared the second quarter, scoring 12 goals each, with the Aloes leading 26-20 at halftime.
The Aloes pulled away after halftime, and were 42-30 ahead at the end of the third quarter, before stamping their authority in the final quarter.
Goalkeeper Jeanie Steyn and goal defence Hlumisa Sithonga overturned a number of balls and goal shooter Jody Vorster kept the scoreboard ticking over.
“They’re a very happy team and they are having fun,” said Aloes coach Lana Krige.
“I am very lucky because I have coached 10 of the 12 members of the squad, so they know what I want from them.”
Baobabs Coach Anna Ledwaba said it had been a tough game, but she thought there had been some improvement from the first week.
“There was a problem with their ball placement and we will have to work on that, but I am pleased with the way they are feeding the ball into the circle,” she said.
The 2018 silver medallists, the Southern Stings, made short work of the Gauteng Golden Fireballs, beating them by 58 goals to 34.
The Fireballs started well, and kept pace with the Stings for much of the first quarter and were just three goals behind at the end of the quarter. (12-9). But some wild passes and basic errors cost them and the Stings increased the pressure as the game went on. By halftime, the Stings were 27-18 ahead.
In the third quarter, the Stings pulled away, outscoring the Fireballs by 16 goals to seven (43-25). The Fireballs played better in the final quarter, although they appeared tired and bit lacklustre. The Stings won the quarter 15-9. Stings coach Annelie Lucas said her team was still making too many unforced errors, but she was reasonably happy.
“The defenders were particularly good, and I was pleased that they didn’t allow the Fireballs to get into double figures in any of the quarters.
“We are taking it game by game and I am pleased with the way we are progressing,” she said.
“We had such a good start, but then things went wrong,” said Fireballs coach Jenni-lee Delport.
“It appears that they can’t concentrate for four quarters. I played my whole bench, in the hope that the bench players would improve matters, but they didn’t. I am disappointed and we shall have to do some soul-searching,” she said.
In the first match of the day, the Kingdom Stars came from behind to beat the Mpumalanga Sunbirds 53-44, after leading 26-22 at halftime.
The Sunbirds stormed out of the blocks and at one stage were seven goals ahead, but the Stars began reeling them in halfway through the first quarter, which ended with the Sunbirds leading 15-11. Five minutes before halftime, the Stars drew level and then went into the lead for the first time. They won the quarter 15-7. They maintained the lead in the third quarter, which they won 13-10, but in the final quarter the Sunbirds came back and at one stage were just two goals behind. The teams drew the last quarter 12-all.
“I changed our goal defence after the first quarter, because I could see she was struggling against the very tall Sunbirds goalshooter,” said Stars coach Bonisiwe Thabethe.
“After that, I just kept on encouraging them to focus and to defend their centre passes, and to shoot as soon as they were in the circle.”
PRETORIA May 17
Results of Telkom Netball League matches played at the Pretoria University Sports Centre on Friday
Southern Stings 58 (27) Gauteng Golden Fireballs 34 (18)
Gauteng Jaguars 44 (23) Free State Crinums 42 (21)
Kingdom Stars 53 (26) Mpumalanga Sunbirds 44 (22)
Eastern Cape Aloes 58 (26) Limpopo Baobabs 42 (20)