The Southern Cape Stings staged a dramatic last quarter onslaught to draw their Telkom Netball League (TNL) match against the North West Flames at the Pretoria University Sports Centre on Friday. The final score was 49-all, and the Flames led 28-22 at halftime.

The Stings had a poor start and the Flames led 15-10 after the first quarter.

The Stings trailed by six goals at halftime and by seven at the end of the third quarter (38-31), only to come back strongly in the final quarter, outscoring the Flames by 18 goals to 11.

The match was played at a furious pace and the defenders on both teams were outstanding, succeeding with intercepts and rebounds.

In the second half, Stings coach Annelie Lucas moved one of her most experienced players, Sasha-Lee Petersen, who normally plays at centre, into the circle as goal defence to bolster her defensive unit.

The last five minutes of the match had the crowd on their feet as the Stings slowly ate away at the Flames’ lead.  With a minute to go, they levelled the score on 48-all and then went one goal up.  The Flames snatched a last second goal and the match ended in an exciting draw.

“I was so annoyed with them after the first quarter – they were all doing their own thing,” said Lucas. “After that, they stuck to the game plan and things started to come right. 

“We put pressure on their shooters and it rattled them a bit,” she said.

Flames coach Elsje Jordaan was disappointed with the performance of her team.

“To draw after being eight goals up is just not acceptable,” she said. “Our attack struggled to get the ball to the circle and they couldn’t establish a rhythm,” she said.

“They kept having to pass back, which upsets the rhythm. “I suppose this is the way they learn.” Defending champions, the Gauteng Jaguars, continued to show they are the team to beat when they defeated the Free State Crinums 52-46, despite a determined second half fight-back from the Free State team.  The Jaguars were 29-19 ahead at halftime.

The Crinums started well and were 15-11 ahead at the end of the first quarter, but the Jaguars stormed back in the second quarter.  Their goalkeeper Jezelri Garbers and goal defence Akosua Mensah combined well to restrict the Crinums in the circle, limiting them to just five goals, while the Jaguars, spearheaded by veteran Chrisna van Zyl, and scored 18. 

The Crinums started their comeback in the third quarter winning it by three goals (16-13) but it was in the final quarter that they threatened to upset the Jaguars’ applecart.  At one stage they were just two goals adrift (44-42) and appeared to be heading for victory.  However, the Jaguars showed their mettle and fought them off, scoring a flurry of goals to make some space between them.

The Crinums won the quarter 11-10, but the damage was done in the second quarter.

Jaguars coach Jenny Van Dyk said she was trying a new defensive combination and had a brand new wing attack in Jani Bergh, and the team had needed to settle in the first quarter.

“They came together in the second quarter and I was very proud of the way they played.

“You can never relax when you play the Crinums.  They don’t have an off button. “Luckily, we have a fast forward button, “she said.

“We still have a lot we can improve on, and next week will be all about preparing for the semis and the final.”

Earlier, Limpopo Baobabs goalshooter Tylana Williamson helped her team win the battle of the Division Two tail-enders when they beat the Northern Cape Diamonds 75-51, after leading 39-24 at halftime. After seven matches, the Diamonds have yet to win a match, while the Baobabs have won three.

The Diamonds started fairly well and led for a short time, but it was not long before the Baobabs began to show who was boss.  They led 15-11 after the first quarter but stretched their lead to 15 goals in the second quarter, scoring an admirable 24 goals.  Goalshooter Tylana Williamson had her shooting boots on and scored 20 of those goals, from 20 attempts, while goal attack Kgothatso Mofomme scored four from five.

Things calmed down somewhat in the third quarter, with the Baobabs scoring 18 goals to 12 for the Diamonds.  The Diamonds did a bit better in the final quarter, losing it 18-15.

Williamson finished the match with 65 goals from 72 attempts. 

In the final match of the day, the SPAR Smileys, made up of locally-based members of the national training squad, thrashed the Gauteng Fireballs 88-36. It was always going to be an uphill task for the Fireballs, who have not won a match so far.  SPAR Smileys coach Dorette Badenhorst was able to play all her players, and try out different combinations.

The SPAR Smileys were 42-15 ahead at halftime.

Their defence was outstanding and they made life very difficult for the Fireballs attack, turning balls seemingly at will.   The SPAR Smileys will have a tougher task on Saturday when they play the Jaguars.

Badenhorst said playing exhibition matches during the TNL had been very valuable.

“It’s important to give the players of the future an opportunity to play with established players.  I was able to play the whole squad, and they each had two to three quarters on court,” she said. 

TELKOM NETBALL LEAGUE RESULTS

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

Division One

Gauteng Jaguars 52 (29) Free State Crinums 46 (19)

North West Flames 49 (28)   Southern Cape Stings 49 (22)

Division Two

Limpopo Baobabs 75 (39) Northern Cape Diamonds 51 (24)

Exhibition match

SPAR Smileys 88 (42) Gauteng Fireballs 36 (9)

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