The Western Cape Stings are virtually sure of going straight into the semi-finals of the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League after outplaying the Free State Crinums at the Pretoria University Sports Centre on Sunday afternoon.
The Stings won the match 59-36, after leading 27-20 at halftime.
The Crinums scored only five goals in the first quarter and appeared to be down and out, but the Stings lost a bit of focus in the second quarter and the Crinums came back hard, outscoring the Cape team by 15 goals to five. Goal shooter Alicia Puren and Maretha van Heerden worked well together in the circle and the Crinums appeared to be back in the game.
However, the wheels came off for the Crinums in the third quarter. Stings goal shooter Jaumbuaije Zauana and Helene Steyn both achieved 100 per cent accuracy, while goalkeeper Stephanie Brandt and goal defence Juline van der Merwe kept Puren and Van Heerden in check. The Stings won the quarter by 17 goals to nine to lead 46-27 at the third interval.
Although the Crinums had a better final quarter, losing by just two goals, it was too little too late.
“The players decided they wanted to go straight through to the semis, so they gave it all they had,” said Stings coach Annelie Lucas.
“They knew they could not afford to let the Crinums into the game, so despite a bit of a lapse in the second quarter, they remained calm and maintained momentum.
“We play the Baobabs next weekend, and if we win, we don’t have to play in the quarter finals.”
“Inconsistency, inconsistency – that’s what cost us the game,” said Crinums coach Burta de Kock.
“When you play a team like the Stings, you can’t afford to silly mistakes and fumble passes.
“You have to make the most of the ball in hand, and control the ball in the circle. That’s what we will work on before next weekend.”
The Kingdom Stars secured a place in the top six with a convincing 56-36 win over the Mpumalanga Sunbirds.
The Stars took control of the match from the start and gave the Sunbirds no opportunities to come back. They led 30-20 at halftime and then stepped up a gear in the third quarter to put more distance between them.
“It’s not what I had hoped for,” said Sunbirds coach Marlie Nel.
“We made some silly, basic errors in the first quarter and we were just not able to catch up. But the girls kept on fighting and they were better in the final quarter.”
Stars coach Madri Maritz was delighted to have achieved a top six position.
“We started well and kept it together in the second quarter. I put my bench players on in the third quarter and I was pleased with the way we played,” she said.
“We play the Jaguars next weekend, and that is going to be tough, but we will use it as preparation for the playoffs.”
The match between the bottom two teams, the Eastern Cape Aloes and the Northern Cape Diamonds, ended in a 46-43 victory for the Aloes, but the Diamonds came close to winning with a dramatic final quarter comeback.
The Aloes took the lead from the start, and were 29-19 ahead at halftime. Goal shooter Zandre Smit was like a rock, shooting from anywhere in the circle, despite the determined efforts of the Diamonds defenders.
In the third quarter, the Aloes stretched their lead to 12, but the Diamonds stormed back in the last quarter, winning it by 16 goals to seven. With just minutes to go, they got within two goals of the Aloes and the small crowd got behind them. But the Aloes managed another goal and the Diamonds’ dream of winning their first match in two years ended.
“I told them they could do it, and they so nearly did,” said Diamonds coach Elfreda Luyt.
“When they started playing fast, that’s when things started to happen. They are getting better every week.”
Aloes coach Des Neville was relieved her team had achieved their first win of the tournament.
“I am very happy with the win, but we let things slide in the third and final quarters,” she said.
“There are still many things we need to tweak, and we are making too many unforced errors.”