The North West Flames won a thrilling Telkom Netball League match against the Southern Stings at the Pretoria University Sports Centre on Friday. The Flames held off a determined assault by the Stings to win 54-50, after leading 29-22 at halftime.

The teams exchanged goals for much of the first quarter before the Flames got a slight edge, winning the quarter by 15 goals to 13.  In the second quarter, they were dominant, with goal shooter Chante Louw and goal attack Elsunet du Plessis very much on song. The Stings made some basic errors and the Flames won the quarter 14-9, to lead 29-22 at halftime. The second quarter was to prove crucial to their eventual victory.

In the third quarter, Stings coach Annelie Lucas brought on the big guns, replacing the young goal shooter Claudia Jarrard with the more experienced Nicole Taljaard, who won player of the match in her last outing.  They began to claw themselves back into the match and won the quarter 14-12. (41-36)

But it was the final quarter that saw both sides playing their hearts out.  With just under four minutes to go, the Stings scored five consecutive goals, to draw level on 49-49 and it appeared they were going to snatch a last minute victory.  But the Flames replied with their own flurry of goals and recorded their first win over one of the major teams.

“I am very relieved – that last quarter was very stressful,” said Flames coach Elsje Jordaan.

“We have talked about building a lead and keeping it.  And I am very pleased that they didn’t give in to the pressure in the final minutes, but hung in there for the victory.”

Lucas said it was better to lose at this stage than later in the tournament. 

“I thought we brought it back nicely in the second half,” she said.

“We always play to win but I changed some of my combinations for this match.  I have given all my players a run so that they are not overwhelmed when it comes to the play-offs,” said Lucas.

The Kingdom Stars won a close encounter with the Limpopo Baobabs, 58-56, after leading 33-27 at halftime.

The Baobabs got off to a slow start and were trailing 18-12 after the first quarter. Their slow start cost them the match – they shared the second and final quarters, 15-15 and 14-14, and won the third quarter 15-11. With five minutes to go, the Baobabs, who had fought like tigers from the start of the second quarter, finally drew level (53-53) and then went ahead. For the next couple of minutes, goals went according to centre pass. A brilliant intercept by Baobabs goal attack Rumandi Potgieter appeared to give the Limpopo team a chance to put some space between them and the Stars, but it all came to nothing because of an error in the centre court. The Stars scored two consecutive goals and they managed to keep ahead of the Baobabs until the final whistle went.

“It was a great team effort,” said Baobabs coach Anna Ledwaba.

“I told them to play their own game and to make the most of the Stars’ mistakes.  I am very proud of the team,” she said.

“I think we were trying to do things too fast and making unforced errors,” said Stars coach Bonsiwe Thabethe.

“We battled against their goal shooter, Grace Lechaba, and we need to improve our defence in the

NETBALL RESULTS

Results of Telkom Netball League matches played at the Pretoria University Sports Centre on Friday

Division One

North West Flames 54 (29) Southern Stings 50 (22)

Division Two

Kingdom Stars 58 (33) Limpopo Baobabs 56 (27)

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