BFNPL Weekend Wrap

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Fireballs – Stars

After an intense battle between the Golden Fireballs and the Kingdom Stars, it was the latter who were left to lick their wounds in round two of the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League played at the Heartfelt Arena in Pretoria.

The Fireballs started the game on a high, recording enough points to stay in the lead and were able hold on to a 45-35 win in the end.

The Gauteng side was a joy to watch during the first and second quarters of the match as they were in control of the game and this left their opposition, coached by Marchell Marouw, trailing throughout the game.

By half time, the Fireballs were leading 23-14 but it seemed the Stars listened attentively to their coach’s instruction as they came back a different team altogether.

They tightened their defense and the shooters also upped their game because they tried to close down the nine point gap, leaving the third quarter at 33-27 still in favour of the Fireballs.

Although that was the case, the ladies coached by Elsje Jordaan still managed to maintain their cool and made sure not to give it away.

It is worth mentioning though, that despite their loss, the KZN side were a tough nut to crack and their fighting spirit was also on a high. This might have been triggered by the fact they had five international players on court, but it was still not enough to beat the Fireballs.

This is why coach Jordaan hailed at her side, saying they won because they played as a unit throughout the game.

“We had no big names in the team and the girls are a bit inexperienced so this is a big win for us. I was a bit worried in the third quarter but I’m glad they managed to absorb the pressure and played as a team. I think that won it for us; the fact that we did not panic a lot and were able to play as a unit,” she said.

Player of the match, goal attacker Talja Venter had a great game and was glad to have made her first appearance in the competition.

“It was my first game tonight and I am glad I could make an impact. I think we did very well in the first and second quarters of the match, but on we started losing control of the game in the third. I’m glad we could pick it up and hold on to a win. We made unnecessary mistake and it is something we have to fix going forward,” said Venter.

The KZN coach, Marouw admitted this was a humbling experience. “We were a bit unsettled in the first and second quarters so we need to go back and recover and plan for tomorrow. I think I should have changed the format I used last week, but then again it was an experience for us, a humbling one if I may add because we had five international players. We will go back and try and work on the things we did wrong and correct them,” she said.

Flames – Sunbirds

A powered up North West Flames side proved to be too strong for Mpumalanga Sunbirds when they thrashed them 66-28 in round two of the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League played at the Heartfelt Arena in Pretoria.

Both teams came into the match positively as they won their opening matches last weekend. And while the Flames ended on a positive note, the Sunbirds will have to revisit their drawing board and right their wrongs before their third match tomorrow.

However, this does not mean the Flames had a smooth ride in the match as they were given a good run for their money during the first quarter and thus, will also have to go back and refurbish their side.

This because, the first few minutes of the quarter saw them struggle to find the hoop and this left the Sunbirds capitalising on their opponent’s lost opportunities.

It did not last for long though as the side coached by Dorette Badenhorst fought back to win the quarter by 7-13. The combination between goal shooter Kefiloe Tsotetsi who also plays in defense and goal attacker Renske Stoltz failed to pay dividends and the team was forced to regroup quickly and find a win- which they did.

The Flames continued to pile more pressure on the Sunbirds who eventually gave in and let them run away with the points.

Stoltz put on a great performance inside the circle, shooting most points and she walked away as player of match.

“We had a slow start today. I think the different combination we had also had an impact on us, we didn’t play as we normally do so I believe there is still room for improvement. I must give credit to the Sunbirds; I think they had a really good game, especially the goal keeper, she gave me a tough time. Our coach warned us about her and she proved to be a tough challenge. Overall I’m happy about the win but I think there’s always something we can work on. I’m happy for being nominated player of the match too,” Stoltz said.

Coach Badenhorst wasn’t really impressed with the win and says the girls should improve on their next game.

Sunbirds coach Jenne-Lee Delport was rather impressed with her girls especially considering it was the first time they were playing against the Flames, a team that was in the first division last year and they were in the second.

“I think there has been improvement on the girls. They did well during the start of the game, but somehow failed to maintain the standard going forward. We will go back and work on a couple of things and come back ready tomorrow,” Delport said.

Stings – Stars

The first two fiercely contested matches in round two of the Brutal Fruit Netball League on Saturday saw the Southern Stings and the Eastern Cape Aloes walk away victorious and are now hoping to continue on a winning streak.

Having played three matches already beating the Kingdom Stars 35-31, the Stings remain unbeaten in the competition hosted at the Heartfelt Arena in Pretoria.

However, the Stings will agree that after that match, they will have to up their game if they are to win against their opponents tomorrow, the Jaguars.

The Stars sure did give them a tough time in the court and by the end of the third quarter, the teams were locked at 22 – 22, but they however managed to open a lead and held on to it.

The Stars’ goal keeper Phumza Maweni was nominated player of the match and said although they lost, the results are a morale booster for them going forward.

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Zandile Njeza (gs) of the Aloes and Michelle Badenhorst (c) of the Sunbirds battle for possession

Aloes – Sunbirds

The Aloes on the other hand believe they are finding their foot in the competition, this because they convincingly beat the Mpumalanga Sunbirds 50-29.

However, the Aloes’ Zanele Vimbela who was nominated player of the match said although they have won, there are still some potholes in their team and will have to work on them and ensure they are an even better side going forward.

“I’m happy with the win, but not entirely happy with our performance today. I think there are a couple of things we can work on. Today was much better compared to the way we played last week. This was a great team effort performance and our hard work paid off. We need to work more on our attacking. The Sunbirds gave us a run for our money, they gave us a tough challenge, especially comparing their performance to last year. We beat twice last year but today was a bit harder to beat them. I’m happy for this win, we needed it,” she said.

The Sunbirds coach Jenny-Lee Delport said she was disappointed at how her side played because she knows they can play better than how they did.

“At the end of the day it’s all about basics. I expect my players to play the way they play during training. We must always stick to our game plan because as soon as we lose focus on that then we out of the game and that is what happened. We made silly mistakes and that cost us the game, I really do not know what happened out there because we did what we don’t normally do. We now have to go back to the drawing board and fix all these mistakes. We must go back to basics and make sure we stick to that no matter what,” Delport said.

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Rome Dreyer of the Flames during the 2016 Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League game between the Flames and the Crinums

Flames – Crinums

The North West Flames became the second team to inflict pain to the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League defending champions, the Free State Crinums, when they beat them 55-44 in the final match of the night.

Coming into this match, the team coached by Burta de Kock obviously wanted to redeem themselves after having lost to the Jaguars last week, but it was not to be as the Flames proved to be a better side on the day.

The Flames brought their A game into the match and even though the Crinums tried to catch up with them, it was not to be as they trailed throughout the match.

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Tshina Mdau of the Jaguars during the 2016 Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League game between the Jaguars and the Diamonds

Jaguars – Diamonds

In the other game earlier, the Jaguars continued were they had left off last week as they thrashed the Northern Cape Diamonds 65-34 to record their second win in the competition.

The team coached by Jenny van Dyk hardly broke sweat against their opponents, but even though that was the case, player of the match Izette Lubbe said they were given a good challenge and they were able to see some of their mistakes, which they will work on before they face off against the stings tomorrow.

Results (Heartfelt Arena, Pretoria):

 15 April

Gauteng Fireball 45 KwaZulu-Natal Kingdom Stars 35

North West Flames 65 Mpumalanga Sunbirds 28

16 April

Western Cape Southern Stings 35 KwaZulu-Natal Kingdom Stars 31

Eastern Cape Aloes 50 Mpumalanga Sunbirds 29

Gauteng Jaguars 65 Northern Cape Diamonds 34

North West Flames 55 Free State Crinums 44

Images supplied by Ryan Wilkisky

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