The Fireballs emerged victorious against the Kingdom Stars despite an equally dominant first quarter performance from both teams. Captain Bongiwe Msomi returned after being given a break against the Flames yesterday. The opening five minutes of the game were highly defensive with both teams scoring three goals apiece. Both sides refused to back down for the remainder of the quarter, but the Fireballs managed to take a one-goal advantage. The Fireballs upped the tempo of the game in the second quarter with increased speed, but they still managed to transition smoothly and connect effectively. The Flames were relentless defensively and were successful in some moments, but the shooting average that was sitting on sixty-seven percent, led to a three-goal deficit at half-time.
Elmere Van der Berg started on Goal Attack and was moved to Goal Shooter in the third quarter. The Flames overworked themselves and contested every ball in an attempt to fight their way back. Dr. Elsje Jordaan called for a strategic stoppage, as the score-line pushed to 32-26 in favor of the Fireballs. Jordaan instructed her defense to avoid too many obstructions and apply more pressure on Elmere. Soon after the timeout, Goal Attack Caitlin Du Plessis snapped an intercept on the transverse line and bolted down court to convert, reducing the gap to four goals for the Flames.
The Flames’ mission was to overturn a 42-31 score-line in the last quarter. The North West team stacked up their defensive end, by bringing back captain Didintle Keebine on Wing Defense and introducing Silindile Chauke on Goal Keeper. The Flames came on stronger defensively, keeping the Fireballs on their toes and destabilizing play to win the final quarter 17-16 but the Fireballs’ dominant third quarter is what gave them a 58-48 victory.
Game four of the day, saw the Crinums hold strong against the Jaguars and keep their number one spot on the Division One log standings ahead of the semi-finals. The Crinums won the first quarter arm-wrestle 16-13 after capitalizing on some unforced errors to grab control of the match. Coach Martha Mosoahle-Samm demanded more from her players even when the Crinums restricted the Jaguars to just one goal, six minutes into the second quarter. Martha asked her team to open up the court to give each other more options. Jaguars Wing Defense Lungile Mthembu disrupted the Crinums in the mid-court but the Free State team responded vehemently to extend their lead by ten-goals in the first half.
The Jaguars wasted their defensive efforts by the circle edge, struggling to pin-point feeds because of the miscommunications between the shooters and the feeders. Nonsikelelo Mazibuko and Kamogelo Maseko started building confidence in the latter stages of the third quarter, but the Crinums had already done enough to extend their lead by thirteen goals. An improved fourth quarter display saw the Jaguars finish on a ninety-one goal percentage but the Crinums amassed ten intercepts and thirty-two gains to win the match 57-43.
Martha says she will start preparing for a Stings semi-final, ‘’I think it is clear that we are going to play the Stings. The tables are there and they are the team with the most losses. So at the moment they are fourth and they have another big match tomorrow against the Fireballs. Whatever happens between them and the Fireballs, they will remain fourth because the Fireballs have done enough to remain second and the Jaguars have also done enough to stay third.’’
In the last game of the day, the Kingdom Queens caused the biggest upset by beating the Eastern Cape Comets 44-37 in a Division Two match. The Comets needed a victory from this game to keep their semi-final hopes alive. This means that the Comets must now defeat the Baobabs tomorrow morning in their last round-robin game and they are well aware of the difficult task that lies ahead having lost by twenty-seven goals in the first round against the Limpopo team. The Queens’ victory has given the Diamonds confidence and hope in cementing a spot in the last four, as they now lead the Comets by two points on the log standings. The job is far from over for the Diamonds, who will face off with a strong and an experienced Sunbirds side tomorrow.
Tornados Shift Their Focus To Semis While Diamonds Wait
The Tornados concluded their Telkom Netball League round-robin stage with a 52-39 victory over Sonoblomo. Both teams were highly competitive in the first quarter, even though the Tornados were able to break away with a narrow two-goal lead. The Tornados’ defense overwhelmed early in the second quarter, making it hard for the Sonoblomo shooters to free themselves. The miscommunication in the shooting circle prompted Sonoblomo’s first change; Ruandi Van Dyk took over the Wing Attack bib from Jerminah Ntsesho. Sonoblomo were now able to create better passages of play in their goal third, and Van Dyk launched some stunning feeds inside the circle, but Bianca Pienaar and Amy Jacobs struggled to convert.
Sonoblomo were less expensive in the third quarter and were able to reduce the half-time seven-goal deficit to just three in the third quarter. The Tornados started creating cracks in Sonoblomo’s attacking line, forcing turnovers to extend their lead by six halfway through the last quarter. Despite strategic time being called by coach Gertriana Schoonraad to urge her players to practice discipline, there was no stopping the Western Cape team, who used the timeout to charge up. The Tornados increased the tempo and were able to find one another in the process with ease, scoring quick goals and making it difficult for Sonoblomo to keep up.
The Tornados will now look to build onto this victory and start preparing for their all-important semi-final against the Mpumalanga Sunbirds on Thursday, having finished second on the Division Two log standings. Meanwhile, pressure is mounting on the Diamonds despite their 45-39 win over the Lilies this morning. The Diamonds have now moved to the fourth position with twelve points, but have a negative forty goal difference. They now hold their breath and cross fingers for the Kingdom Queens to cause an upset this evening and defeat the Comets, to increase their chances of a semi-final berth.
‘’Tomorrow the girls need to be mentally ready to fight from the beginning until the end, because we all know that this is a race. This is a race that we took one foot off from, and now is the time to pick up that foot and use it to accelerate, to finish in the top four. We praying for the Queens to cause a sad day today, so we can be relaxed’’, said Diamonds coach Nthabiseng Hottie after the game.
In Division One, the Stings outclassed the Stars and secured a convincing victory. Twenty-one goals were scored in the first quarter, and both teams were able to deal with the exerted pressure across the court. The Stings took a one-goal lead for the majority of the quarter and Goal Keeper Thulisile Maduna snatched an eye-catching intercept in the Stings’ goal third, to help the Stars equalize. However, the Stings responded well by using the Stars and their own center pass to lead 11-10 in the first fifteen minutes. The Stars’ momentum took a dip in the second quarter and they lacked composure on attack. Stings’ Goal Defense Nicola Smith troubled the Stars in their own shooting circle and grabbed three intercepts, handing her team a nine-goal lead.
Smith continued to pose challenges defensively, taking an early intercept in the third quarter. The Stars’ defensive trio of Nozipho Ntshangase, Jordan Buys and Maduna showed their determination to will their team forward but the shooting department cracked under the defensive pressure exerted by their opponents. The Stings subdued the Stars in the last quarter, shutting down every effort and finished off with a commanding 51-29 win.
Sonoblomo 39-52 Tornados
Lilies 39-45 Diamonds
Stars 29-51 Stings
Sonoblomo 39-53 Tornados
Lilies 39-45 Diamonds
Stars 29-51 Stings
Fireballs 58-48 Flames
Crinums 57-43 Jaguars
Queens 44-37 Comets
Wednesday (28/06/2023) Fixtures:
08:00|Div.2|Comets vs Baobabs
10:00|Div.1|Aloes vs Jaguars
12:00|Div.2|Sunbirds vs Diamonds
14:00|Div.1|Flames vs Stars
16:00|Div.2|Lilies vs Queens
18:00|Div.1|Stings vs Fireballs