The Gauteng Jaguars came from behind to beat an energised North West Flames 52-42 in a thrilling Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League match at the University of Pretoria Sports Centre on Friday night.
The Flames, who were runners up to the Jaguars last year, were on fire in the first half, leading 11-8 at the first interval and 22-20 at halftime. The Jaguars gave notice in the second quarter that they were not going to relinquish their unbeaten status easily, winning the quarter by 12 goals to 11.
But it was in the second half of the third quarter that the Jaguars took charge of the match, with a flurry of goals that took them to a eight-goal lead at the end of the quarter.
The pace was fast and furious and there were some breath taking intercepts and turnovers on both sides. The experience of players like Proteas Erin Burger and Izette Griesel proved crucial as the Jaguars gained momentum. In fact, it was the Jaguars centre court players who made the difference between the teams.
“It was a game of two halves,” said Flames coach Elsje Jordaan. “We played very well in the first half, but there were some bad mistakes and poor passes in the second, as the pressure increased.
“Having said that, we missed some opportunities in the first half, and you can’t afford to do that against a team like the Jaguars.
“I was pleased that they continued to fight and they made something of a comeback in the last quarter, unlike when we played the Stings and they just gave up.”
“It was a great game and good preparation for what’s to come in the semis,” said Jaguars coach Jenny van Dyk. “I was pleased with the way we fought back in the second quarter and were able to find our momentum. We played with controlled speed and that made all the difference,” said Van Dyk.
After a competitive first quarter, the match between the Gauteng Fireballs and the Limpopo Baobabs turned into a one-sided match, which the Fireballs won by 65 goals to 33.
The Baobabs started off extremely well and led for the first ten minutes of the match, with some dramatic turnovers and intercepts.
But with four minutes of the first quarter left, the Fireballs, who finished third last year, drew level on nine-all, and then went into the lead – a lead they maintained for the rest of the match. They were 15-12 ahead at the first interval and 30-20 ahead at halftime.
The Fireballs stepped up another gear in the third quarter, winning it by 24 goals to six and putting any chance of a comeback by the Baobabs out of reach.
Lanky Fireballs goalshooter Kifiloe Tsotetsi was on song, making the most of every opportunity to get the ball in the net, while at the other end, goalkeeper Zandre Erasmus made life difficult for the Baobabs shooters.
“They showed in the first quarter what they could do, so it was very frustrating that they lost focus and let it slip away from them,” said Baobabs coach Jenne-lee Delport.
“But if they are going to have a bad match, rather today than against the Kingdom Stars tomorrow,” she said.
“I was disappointed that they lacked consistency and backed out of the fight.”
“We can’t afford a poor start like that against the top teams,” said Fireballs coach Dorette Badenhorst.
“They really played well in the third quarter. With a big lead, I was able to give some of my bench players a run and try out some different combinations.
“When we play the Southern Cape Stings tomorrow, we need to keep our centre passes and convert our turnovers into goals.”
Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League Results at the University of Pretoria Sports Centre on Friday, 1 June 2018:
- North West Flames 42 – 52 Gauteng Jaguars
- Gauteng Fireballs 65 – 33 Limpopo Baobabs
Photo 1 caption: Erin Burger of the Jaguars challenged by Rome Dreyer of the Flames during their 2018 Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League clash at the Rembrand Hall in Pretoria on 1 June 2018. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix
Photo 2 caption: In a photo which foretold her sides’ fortuntes, Jeanette Vermuelen of the Boababs (centre) is flanked by the Fireballs’ Zanne-Marie Pienaar (left) and player of the match Zandre Erasmus (right) in their fixture on Friday night. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix