Although the unbeaten Lightning Roses from Bloemfontein will go into the second semi-final of the Netball Grand Series as the outright favourites on Saturday, the fourth-placed team on the log, Black Diamonds, have the ability to ensure an intriguing semi and even cause an upset if they hit their straps.
The Diamonds have much to prove after their controversial surrender to the Roses in the second round of the competition. They are a passionate and very talented outfit and undoubtedly have the ability to surprise the home team.
Crucial to their cause will be the performance of their goal shooter Tsakane Mbewe and Nontle Gwavu, who as goalkeeper has been unflappable against the country’s best goal shooters. These two probably hold the key in what is a very good Diamonds line-up.
As they had done all season, goal attack Maryka Holtzhausen and goal shooter Claudia Basson will be key players for the Roses. The Roses’ two circles, with Holtzhausen and Claudia Basson and their defence of Adele Niemand and Karla Mostert supplement one another’s play perfectly.
No doubt the Diamonds will have their strategies to curb them, and their success in achieving that could greatly determine the outcome of this semi-final.
The winner of the encounter will play the Galaxy Blues from Pretoria next Saturday. The Blues last week beat the Starlight Jets in a tough encounter to advance to the final.
Should the Roses win this second semi-final, the final will be played in Bloemfontein. If the Diamonds can upset the Roses, the final will be in Pretoria.
In related news, the Southern Region’s two CUB semi-finals take place on Friday evening when Hoërskool Stellenberg (Western Storms region) play Hoërskool Kuswag (Kingdom Queens region) and the Roses’ regional winner Hoërskool Sentraal comes up against Hoërskool Grens from the Ibhayi Gales region.
Stellenberg and Sentraal are favourites to advance to the Southern Region final on Saturday, with the winner going through to meet Menlopark who won the Northern Region title last weekend after beating Mondeor High in the semi-final and then accounting for Hoërskool Hugenote in the final.
The CUB national final on August 6 will be played as a curtain-raiser to the NGS final, irrespective of the venue.
The programme at the UFS Callie Human Hall, Bloemfontein:CUB Southern Region Semi-Finals: * Hoërskool Grens vs Hoërskool Sentraal (Friday July 29, 5pm) * Hoërskool Stellenberg vs Hoërskool Kuswag (Friday July 29, 6.20pm) CUB Southern Region play-off, 3rd/4th positions: * Loser semi-final 1 vs Loser semi-final 2 (Saturday July 30, 8.00 am) CUB Southern Region Final: * Winner semi-final 1 vs Winner semi-final 2 (Saturday July 30, 10.30 am) Netball Grand Series Semi-final 2: Lightning Roses v Black Diamonds (Saturday July 30, 12 pm)