The Golden Fireballs produced a commanding finish and defeated the Southern Stings 43-41 in the dying minutes of the match. A defensive start from both teams saw the Fireballs get penalized for a held ball due to the Stings’ strong defense. The Fireballs were inconsistent in trying to cool off the Stings’ heat, missing crucial shots in the process, which saw coach Dr. Elsjé Jordaan make two changes in her shooting circle. The Stings were able to seize control of the game in the first quarter with a seven-goal lead.
Jeante Strydom was impactful on Goal Defense in the second quarter, challenging for every single ball, in an effort to turn ball. The Fireballs looked even more fired up to fight their way back, and the Monica Gomases change, from Wing Defense to Center, contributed immensely to the ball landing safely in the shooting circle. The Fireballs secured three game changing turnovers in the start of the championship quarter to move within one goal, but Nicola Smith replied back with two steals and an emergency strategic stoppage was called by Jordaan. An arm-wrestle between the two sides lasted until the final ninety seconds when the score was 40 all. The Fireballs dropped the tempo of the game and left no room for mistakes to convert a gain and their own center pass and win the match masterfully.
Meanwhile, the Crinums won their only match of the weekend against the Eastern Cape Aloes after beating them 48-31. The victory ensures the Free State team retains their second position on the Division One Log and the struggle continues for the Aloes’, who are yet to register a win in the competition after five games.
The Mpumalanga Sunbirds and the Limpopo Baobabs got the Telkom Netball League weekend fixtures underway at the Heartfelt Arena in Pretoria this afternoon. Both teams were separated by just one point on the log standings ahead of this encounter, with the Baobabs in second place and the Sunbirds third. Following the one-week break, the Baobabs looked revitalized and asserted their dominance in dramatic fashion, clinching a resounding 61-33 victory.
Sunbirds coach- Thembi Mdluli made changes to her usual starting line-up, opting to start key player Palesa Mbukwana on Goal Shooter alongside Atacia Mbuyane and Maryke teamed up with Tumelo Nkoe on defense. The Sunbirds got off to a cagey start, losing a couple of balls, and the Baobabs were quick to capitalize on those mistakes to take a seven-goal lead in the first quarter.
Mdluli was forced to fall back on her working combinations, which included moving Mbukwana back to Goal Keeper and Zanele Mokoena was introduced as Shooter. The Sunbirds gradually started to regain their composure, but the Limpopo team were assertive in protecting their cushion and led 32-20 at half-time.
A sturdy battle brewed in the third quarter; however, the Sunbirds’ lack of ball control in some instances, handed the Baobabs a 11-10 lead in the championship quarter. The Sunbirds lost their first center pass at the beginning of the fourth quarter and the match became a one-sided affair from there on. There was no stopping Baobabs’ Goal Attack Marichelle Visagie, who was a formidable playmaker in ensuring she sets up Muhluri Hlatshwayo under the post to convert in her comfort zone. The Baobabs’ relentless defensive pressure across all thirds restricted the Sunbirds to just two goals in the last fifteen minutes, leaving the Mpumalanga team searching for answers.
In the other Division Two, the Comets gave up a three-quarter lead and salvaged a 37 all draw against the Kingdom Queens. Princess Kanetsi was instrumental in helping the Comets lead through her accurate shooting, until the final quarter when she had to be stretched off court after sustaining an injury. The forced substitution pierced a hole in the Comets momentum subsequently allowing the Queens to crawl back and level matters following a turnover from the Comets center pass and heartbreaking conversion from Queens’ Shooter Asekho Njeza.
Sunbirds 33-61 Baobabs
Crinums 48-31 Aloes
Comets 37-37 Queens
Fireballs 43-41 Stings
10 June (Saturday) Fixtures:
08:00- Comets vs Lilies
10:00- Sunbirds vs Sonoblomo
12:00- Flames vs Aloes
14:00- Diamonds vs Baobabs
16:00- Queens vs Tornados
18:00- Jaguars vs Stars