The Limpopo Baobabs and the Tornados lit up the Ngoako Ramatlhodi Sports Complex with a riveting performance in the Telkom Netball League(TNL), but it was the Tornados who broke the home side’s heart once again after walking away with a 48-47 victory. A defensive first quarter ended 10-all, despite the Baobabs’ Shooting pair of Muhluri Hlatshwayo and Marichelle Visagie struggling to connect in the circle and sitting on a seventy-seven goal percentage.
A consistent double block on Goal Shooter Hlatshwayo didn’t faze the Baobabs, as they continued to remain consistent. Jessica Matjiu (Centre) and Khomotso Magagane (Wing Attack) fed the ball with incredible precision to Goal Attack Visagie, who had no issues rising to the occasion by working tirelessly and scoring ten out of the sixteen goals to give the home side a one-goal advantage at half-time.
Tornados coach Freda Kemp made five changes to her side, and the Western Cape team showed great intensity on attack, posing profound challenges for the Baobabs’ defense. This resulted in a two-goal lead for the Tornados ahead of the last quarter. Kemp was dealt a blow in the start of the fourth quarter when Goal Keeper Olukemi Agbai sustained an injury and was forced to resort to her first defensive combination of Lara Steyn and Lauren Adendorf.
The Baobabs subsequently capitalized on an opportunity to equalize through turnovers, and it was game on for the remainder of the match. It all boiled down to the final thirty seconds, when it was the Tornados’ centre pass and pressure mounted on the Limpopo team to turn ball, but the visitors prudently delivered the ball into Liandre Schoemans’ hands, who handed her team a vital one-goal win. This storyline is a repeat of what happened in last year’s Division Two bronze final, when the Tornados escaped past the Baobabs with a one-goal win to walk away with a medal.
Meanwhile, the Free State Sonoblomo suffered another defeat at the hands of the Eastern Cape Comets who secured a 42-27 victory after sixty minutes of play. The debutants will next face the hosts Baobabs and the Comets will look to maintain their unbeaten run against a highly confident Tornados tomorrow.
In Division One, the Kingdom Stars capitulated against the Southern Stings following a solid performance against the Aloes yesterday. This was the Stings’ second consecutive victory after defeating the Stars 51-23. The Stings’ defensive circle is their biggest strength currently, with Phumza Maweni winning the player of the match yesterday and Kabuya Syntiche today. Stars’ coach Precious Mthembu believes nerves take over her Shooters at times.
‘’When you are given answers on the court and you have to get the ball closer to the pole and take shots, there is nothing else you can do. It is all about the player ensuring that their feet, elbow, and knees are fine and doing everything they need to make sure the shot is in. It all goes back to being committed to shooting back home and experience also showed today. I also realized that the Shooters had the fear of playing against Phumza Maweni, who is a big name in that circle.’’
Photo Cred: Phillip Maeta/Netball South Africa