Crinums Dominate Jaguars and Fireballs Have One More Fight for Top Spot

The Fireballs emerged victorious against the Kingdom Stars despite an equally dominant first quarter performance from both teams in the Telkom Netball League at Heartfelt Arena on Tuesday, 27 June 2023.

Captain Bongiwe Msomi returned after being given a break against the Flames yesterday. The opening five minutes of the game were highly defensive with both teams scoring three goals apiece. Both sides refused to back down for the remainder of the quarter, but the Fireballs managed to take a one-goal advantage. 

The Fireballs upped the tempo of the game in the second quarter with increased speed, but they still managed to transition smoothly and connect effectively. The Flames were relentless defensively and were successful in some moments, but the shooting average that was sitting on sixty-seven percent, led to a three-goal deficit at half-time.

Elmere Van der Berg started on Goal Attack and was moved to Goal Shooter in the third quarter. The Flames overworked themselves and contested every ball in an attempt to fight their way back. Dr. Elsje Jordaan called for a strategic stoppage, as the score-line pushed to 32-26 in favor of the Fireballs. Jordaan instructed her defense to avoid too many obstructions and apply more pressure on Elmere. Soon after the timeout, Goal Attack Caitlin Du Plessis snapped an intercept on the transverse line and bolted down court to convert, reducing the gap to four goals for the Flames.

The Flames’ mission was to overturn a 42-31 score-line in the last quarter. The North West team stacked up their defensive end, by bringing back captain Didintle Keebine on Wing Defense and introducing Silindile Chauke on Goal Keeper. The Flames came on stronger defensively, keeping the Fireballs on their toes and destabilizing play to win the final quarter 17-16 but the Fireballs’ dominant third quarter is what gave them a 58-48 victory.

Game four of the day, saw the Crinums hold strong against the Jaguars and keep their number one spot on the Division One log standings ahead of the semi-finals. The Crinums won the first quarter arm-wrestle 16-13 after capitalizing on some unforced errors to grab control of the match. 

Coach Martha Mosoahle-Samm demanded more from her players even when the Crinums restricted the Jaguars to just one goal, six minutes into the second quarter. Martha asked her team to open up the court to give each other more options. Jaguars Wing Defense Lungile Mthembu disrupted the Crinums in the mid-court but the Free State team responded vehemently to extend their lead by ten-goals in the first half.

The Jaguars wasted their defensive efforts by the circle edge, struggling to pin-point feeds because of the miscommunications between the shooters and the feeders. Nonsikelelo Mazibuko and Kamogelo Maseko started building confidence in the latter stages of the third quarter, but the Crinums had already done enough to extend their lead by thirteen goals. An improved fourth quarter display saw the Jaguars finish on a ninety-one goal percentage but the Crinums amassed ten intercepts and thirty-two gains to win the match 57-43.

Martha says she will start preparing for a Stings semi-final, ”I think it is clear that we are going to play the Stings. The tables are there and they are the team with the most losses. So at the moment they are fourth and they have another big match tomorrow against the Fireballs. Whatever happens between them and the Fireballs, they will remain fourth because the Fireballs have done enough to remain second and the Jaguars have also done enough to stay third.”

In the last game of the day, the Kingdom Queens caused the biggest upset by beating the Eastern Cape Comets 44-37 in a Division Two match. The Comets needed a victory from this game to keep their semi-final hopes alive. This means that the Comets must now defeat the Baobabs on Wednesday morning in their last round-robin game and they are well aware of the difficult task that lies ahead having lost by twenty-seven goals in the first round against the Limpopo team. 

The Queens’ victory has given the Diamonds confidence and hope in cementing a spot in the last four, as they now lead the Comets by two points on the log standings. The job is far from over for the Diamonds, who will face off with a strong and an experienced Sunbirds side today.

Results: Telkom Netball League on Tuesday, 27 June 2023

Sonoblomo 39-53 Tornados

Lilies 39-45 Diamonds

Stars 29-51 Stings

Fireballs 58-48 Flames

Crinums 57-43 Jaguars

Queens 44-37 Comets

Fixtures: Telkom Netball League on Wednesday, 28 June 2023

08:00|Div.2|Comets vs Baobabs

10:00|Div.1|Aloes vs Jaguars

12:00|Div.2|Sunbirds vs Diamonds

14:00|Div.1|Flames vs Stars

16:00|Div.2|Lilies vs Queens

18:00|Div.1|Stings vs Fireballs

With editing by gsport

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