The Mpumalanga Sunbirds handed the Tornados their first defeat after beating them 42-40 this morning at the Heartfelt Arena in Pretoria. The battle started off like a house on fire, with both teams working hard to retain their center passes and turn ball. The first half belonged to the Tornados, even though they only had a slender one goal lead at half-time. The Sunbirds accrued forty-one penalties in the first thirty minutes through their defensive efforts in an attempt to stay within touching distance. Wing Defense Seja Kgaabi received a warning from umpire Miles Moshou for intentional contact.
The Sunbirds could not be stopped in the third quarter, the smothering pressure coming from Palesa Mbukwana and Maryke Coetzee prevented Tornados’ engine Liandre Schoeman from adding to the tally, but the Western Cape team continued to challenge for the ball. The high error rate allowed the Sunbirds to flip the script and win the championship quarter 14-10. The physicality of the game intensified in the last quarter with players putting their bodies on the line. However, the Sunbirds found more depth in their second phase and the defense had a field day turning balls in the opposition’s goal third and racking in the defensive rebounds, shutting down any glimmer of hope for a comeback from the Tornados
Meanwhile, the Diamonds ended their three-match losing streak after securing a comfortable 47-55 win against Sonoblomo. The Diamonds set their intentions clear from the outset, leading 18-8 in the first quarter. The ten-goal deficit elicited six changes from Sonoblomo, three defensive and three attacking changes. The Diamonds shone in the shooting circle with Ninelle Jordaan and Andiswa Dlamini sitting on an eight four goal percentage to increase their lead by fifteen goals at half-time. However, both teams needed to clean up ahead of the second half as they both had twenty-nine penalties and close to ten turnovers apiece. The Diamonds’ defence put in a good shift in the third quarter, forcing aerial feeds into the shooting circle, setting themselves up for easy intercepts. Sonoblomo had a strong finish in the end and showed how competitive they could be, winning the last quarter 17-10. Despite the inspiring finish, the Free State team still found themselves on the losing side.
Tornados 40-42 Sunbirds
Sonoblomo 47-55 Diamonds