The North West Flames kept their best for last and put up a polished performance to win their crucial final group match against the Southern Stings to automatically qualify for the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League semi-finals in two weeks’ time. The Flames won the match, played in the Mangaung Indoor Complex in Bloemfontein by 49-44. They looked smooth on attack and one wouldn’t have thought they only had one practise session with their head coach, Dorette Badenhorst, this week.
Badenhorst ran a training camp with the Baby Proteas (as head coach) in the week and they had to arrange a special practise session on Saturday in Bloemfontein. The Flames’ centre, Romé Dreyer, had an outstanding match and her understanding and quick handling with her goal attack, Renske Stoltz, was something to behold. Stoltz, last year’s player of the competition seemed determined to claim that prize again. Not only does she shoot from far distances and with that very accurately, she’s also a smart player and with her quick feet often catches the opponents’ defenders napping.
The Stings defense had little answer for the Dreyer-Stoltz combination. The Flames led by 15-9, 25-20 and 40-28 at end of the first three quarters. Towards the latter part of the third quarter, the Stings looked like a beaten team whilst the Flames had a spring in their step.
The Flames made use of aerial defense and forced the Stings to go through a number of passes to get the ball to their shooters in a position to attempt at goal. In the process the Western Cape team threw away a number of balls, either behind a teammate or over their heads. Zandré Erasmus, Flames goalkeeper, did a great job defending on Danelle Lochner and later Vanes-Mari du Toit, both goal shooters.
Erasmus also won a number of balls back from the rebound. The Flames will have a buy next weekend and play the winner of the quarterfinal between Free State Crinums and Stings.