They had to wait two weeks, but the Gauteng Jaguars succeeded in avenging their one-goal loss to the Western Cape Southern Stings in their tournament opener with victory when the two sides met again in round three of the Telkom Netball League on Sunday afternoon in Pretoria.
The highly anticipated showdown proved as close as expected in the first quarter which was played at a furious pace, with the two-time defending champions finding themselves one goal down at the first break. They righted matters in the second period however, which was still a tight one, but saw the Jaguars slowly edging their way in front.
While the Gauteng side weren’t at their smooth and slick best, they managed to open the gap further thanks to the Stings’ struggles in the circle. By the fourth quarter the result was never in doubt, with the Jaguars wrapping up a 47-39 win. That meant a third consecutive loss for the Stings in as many days.
“It was not such an awesome game from us but we pulled through and got the win,” said a relieved Jaguars captain Marlize de Bruin afterwards. “I think what made the difference was the structure – we did a lot of homework and a lot of preparation for this game. Even though it didn’t feel like we really got going and it was a bit of a struggle, we managed to pull it through,” she added.
“The last result against the Stings was a bitter pill to swallow because losing against them is not nice but now beating them is great and it was a good margin too.”
Meanwhile, in the other first division match of the day, the Free State Crinums continued their winning form after pulling off a last-gasp victory against the Stings on Saturday night. Despite a slow start, the three-time champions eventually cruised to a 66-47 win over the Gauteng Golden Fireballs.
The Gauteng side, who have been struggling in the first division and are yet to win a match, took a surprise early lead. They were five goals up in the opening minutes of the game, but true to form the Crinums played themselves back into it to eventually draw the first period 14-14.
The experienced Free State side then found their rhythm and started pulling away in the second, reaching half time 31-23 ahead. Several changes in the third quarter saw them slowing down somewhat but ultimately the Fireballs never got themselves back in the chase, falling 19 goals short – a slight improvement on their previous losing margin of 24 to the same team last weekend.
“We’re extremely happy with the performance. Starting from yesterday, the girls really are showing that they want it badly. Today was a bit of a slow start but we expect that after the hard game yesterday,” explained Crinums assistant coach Martha Mosoahle-Samm.
“The team is building up and looking good and you can see that we’re really nearing the end of this thing and hopefully at the end we will be lifting the trophy.”
As for facing the high-flying Jaguars next Friday, Mosoahle-Samm reckoned: “Every game is big. They’re going to come at us hard because everyone wants it, but we are prepared. The team is gelling well, the combinations are working so we’re very happy for what we’ve achieved so far and we’re looking forward to next weekend.”
In the morning’s second division action, the Eastern Cape Aloes looked far from their best but still managed a 44-33 victory over the Diamonds. The Northern Cape side have yet to win a game at the tournament and lost by 20 goals against the same opposition the last time out. So it was a much-improved performance for them, even managing to win the final quarter by 11 goals to the Aloes’ eight.
Aloes coach Lana Krige was not impressed with her team’s second-half performance, having been 25-14 up after the second quarter, but then not building on that lead.
“They were not running onto the ball, not looking where they were passing, jogging down court. The first quarter I was very happy with, second quarter was good and then we just took our foot off the pedal and jogged around. I’m very disappointed,” she said afterwards, pointing to the fact her side will have to up their performance before next weekend when they face two important clashes – against the Mpumalanga Sunbirds and the table-topping KZN Kingdom Stars.
“It’s going to be tough having two hard games like that so close together. We’re going to have to play accurately. This lackadaisical passing doesn’t cut it, especially if you want to make the step up. It was just shocking.”
Telkom Netball League
Results – 26 May 2019 – Round 3
Free State Crinums beat Gauteng Golden Fireballs 66-47
Gauteng Jaguars beat Western Cape Southern Stings 47-39
Eastern Cape Aloes beat Northern Cape Diamonds 44-33