The Black Diamonds achieved their needed two bonus points in a close contest with the Starlight Jets, who won 49-46 in Kempton Park, and that was enough to see the Soweto side clinch the fourth semi-final berth in the first Netball Grand Series competition this weekend.
The Diamonds’ two points saw them close the gap on the Ibhayi Gales, who overtook them last weekend, and the two sides both finished on 21 log points. The Diamonds, however, had a far superior goal differential and by virtue of that, will now play the top side, the unbeaten Lightning Roses, in Bloemfontein in the one semi-final next weekend.
In the second semi-final, third-placed Starlight Jets will face the Galaxy Blues in Pretoria. The Blues denied the Jets an unlikely second place by beating the Kestrels 51-26 to secure a home semi.
The Roses’ unbeaten league record was only ‘marred’ by one draw, and they swept all before them in a professional series of displays that give them a comfortable first position on the log and a home semi-final next weekend – and should they win that, also a home final the week thereafter.
On Saturday the Roses were too good for the Ibhayi Gales, winning 37-26 to end the Eastern Cape side’s play-off aspirations.
In the fourth match of the weekend, the Western Storms and Kingdom Queens battled it out to avoid the wooden spoon. The Storms won a close match 41-40 to finish four log points ahead of last-placed Queens.
The weekend’s matches were lively and interesting, and the return of the Proteas from the World Cup had much to do with the new fervour with which the sides tackled one another. It augurs well for the first play-offs of the competition over the next two weekends.
Results from the Netball Grand Series, on 16 July, 2011:Kingdom Queens 40 – 41 Western Storms Red Kestrel 26 – 51 Galaxy Blues Lightning Roses 37 – 26 Ibhayi Gales Starlight Jets 49 – 46 Black Diamonds
Log Positions (after 14 Rounds):Lightning Roses 35 Galaxy Blues 30 Starlight Jets 28 Black Diamonds 21 Ibhayi Gales 21 Red Kestrels 13 Western Storms 12 Kingdom Queens 7