The Telkom Netball League round-robin stage concluded this evening, and the season certainly delivered plenty of enthralling action since the start of the competition in April. Teams have given all they could and taken on the challenges they faced in the different games they played. Four teams in Division One and Two dominated enough to earn a spot in the semi-finals, which are set to get underway tomorrow at the Heartfelt Arena in Pretoria.
The first Division Two semi-final will see the Baobabs take on the Diamonds. The Baobabs recorded their twelfth victory today following their 61-24 win over the Comets. The Baobabs’ shooting circle has proven to be a threat for all the teams, which has been their biggest contributor to their success in finishing top of the log standings and scoring 822 goals, the highest number of goals across both divisions. The Diamonds were also in action this afternoon and suffered a 42-37 defeat against the Sunbirds, but that didn’t dent their spot in the last four. The team from the Northern Cape got a through pass qualification from the Queens, who caused an upset by defeating the Comets in a must-win game. The Baobabs have been dubbed favorites for this match after completing a double over the Diamonds this season.
The second semi-final final will be a battle between the Tornados and the Mpumalanga Sunbirds. The rivalry between these two sides has created an electrifying and edge-of-the-seat viewing experience for the supporters. Their first encounter on the second week of June saw the Tornados lead the first half and the Sunbirds flipping the script in the third quarter to win the game 42-40. Last Sunday, both sides faced off again and this time around the Sunbirds dominated the first three quarters but the Tornados charged in the final seconds to take a one-goal win. The Tornados finished second and the Sunbirds third with twenty-four and twenty-one points respectively, to set up a semi-final game that promises to be a blockbuster.
In Division One, the Southern Stings came out firing against the Fireballs and overpowered the Gauteng team to a 54-38 victory. The win was a huge confidence booster for the Stings, who now have to overcome a well-oiled Crinums team in the first semi-final. The Crinums finished top of the log standings, losing only one match during the group stages, and the Stings booked their semi-final spot following a fourth-place finish after winning seven out of the twelve games they played. Meanwhile, the Fireballs and the Jaguars will lock horns in a Gauteng derby semi-final, having finished second and third respectively. This is a repeat of last year’s final, but the Fireballs possess the upper hand after beating their provincial rivals twice this year.
Jaguars coach Rozanne Matthyse gladly accepts the underdog tag after losing four games so far, ‘’We have prepared for this. We still believe that we can take this, and it is nice to not be the talk of the town the whole time, but you are for once the underdog and that is the worst place for other teams to be in, the Jaguars being your underdog. We good where we at and we want to improve, we want to peak in the finals and not in the semis.’’
Thursday (29/06/2023) Fixtures:
10:00|Div.2- PLAY OFF POSITION 7/8|Sonoblomo vs Lilies
12:00|Div.2- SEMI-FINAL 1|Baobabs vs Diamonds
14:00|Div.2- SEMI-FINAL 2|Tornados vs Sunbirds
16:00|Div.1- SEMI-FINAL 1|Crinums vs Stings
18:00|Div.1- SEMI-FINAL 2|Fireballs vs Jaguars