Fireballs outshine Stars as Crinums continue winning ways

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© Samuel Shivambu

Gauteng Fireballs 39-31 KZN Kingdom Stars

Free State Crinums 76-23 Northern Cape Diamonds

North West Flames 62-24 Eastern Cape Aloes

At 6-0 down to the KZN Kingdom Stars after only a few minutes of her side’s Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League match at Ellis Park Indoor Arena on Sunday, the Gauteng Fireballs’ Dorette Badenhorst was not a happy coach.
She’s experienced enough not to panic though, and sure enough, her team managed to keep their composure and not let the game get away from them. Just one goal down at the first break, the Fireballs played themselves back into contention, eventually leading 17-15 at the half time break and then opening up a significant cushion in the final quarter for a 39-31 win.
It’s their third win out of four matches in the competition so far (their only loss coming at the hands of the defending champions – the Gauteng Jaguars), but Badenhorst is still not happy.
“We’re still not playing good netball, we still need to arrive,” she admitted after the game. “Some of the things we’ve worked on are coming together, but we’re definitely struggling with certain things and we need to get it right soon. Otherwise it will be too late.”
Talking about the shaky start her team had, the coach pointed out: “Sometimes you lose a game in the first few minutes and I think it they had scored on all their shots we would’ve been in trouble. We actually only came back because of their missed shots. So we’re a little bit lucky on that one.”
Stars coach Madri Maritz was far from disappointed with her team after their second loss of the weekend.
“I need to commend my players. They came out really hard and never stopped fighting. They played their hearts out in every single quarter. To lose and know they’ve played their hearts out – I’m very proud of them,” she said, adding that they’ll be working on keeping calm in the circle to improve their shooting percentage before next weekend’s third round.
Meanwhile, the Northern Cape Diamonds once again struggled, plummeting to their fourth consecutive heavy loss of the tournament so far, this time against the Free State Crinums, who are yet to lose a game.
The Crinums have, of course, won this tournament on three occasions and with their superior speed and skill, were always likely to overpower the team from the Northern Cape that finished in bottom spot last year. Coach Burta de Kock’s side duly did the business – handing their coach the perfect birthday present with a 76-23 victory.
The Crinums had already entered double figures before the Diamonds could get themselves onto the scoreboard and they were never coming back from that deficit, falling 20-4 behind by the first break and then 38-13 by half time.
“I’m very happy because I could use all 12 players, and different combinations to find out what’s working and what we can still work on for the week ahead,” said De Kock after the match.
“We had a wonderful start, good consistency throughout the court with different combinations, and quick into the flow zone, which makes me happy. Here and there we missed a few shots – maybe a little out of focus – but there’s a wonderful spirit in the camp because all of them got onto court this week and last week.”
Speaking about the pressure of taking on a game you’re expected to win by a comfortable margin, the coach added: “The most important thing is to give them goals – individual goals, team goals and quarterly goals and then they will work for that. That’s the only thing – not to focus on the margin, but to achieve and embrace the team’s goal.”
In the final game of the weekend, the North West Flames claimed an emphatic 62-24 win over the Eastern Cape Aloes, who are yet to record a victory in the tournament.
“I’m more pleased with this weekend than last weekend. We really didn’t start well, but I think that was the best thing that could’ve happened to us – just to realise how much hard work we still had to do,” said Flames coach Elsjé Jordaan after the match.
“The opposition wasn’t as tough this week but it’s always great giving the players some confidence out there, running the lines and the stuff that we worked on. So I’m pleased with that – the stuff we worked on during the week, you could see out there and it’s about building and growing as a team.”
At the end of round 2 of the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League, the Crinums and Jaguars are the only two unbeaten teams so far, with the Jaguars currently topping the log on marginally better goal difference.
Action continues next weekend at the Rembrandt Hall in Pretoria, starting on Friday, 25 May with a match between the Jaguars and the Mpumalanga Sunbirds at 4pm.

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