The Crinums and the Jaguars faced off for the third time this season in a sold-out affair at the Heartfelt Arena in Pretoria. This was the fifth Telkom Netball League final between these two teams, and the Jaguars made it five out of five, emerging victorious once again in an electrifying atmosphere.
Goal for goal early, the Crinums were first to break away through two back-to-back intercepts by Wing Defence Refiloe Nketsa, taking a 6-3 lead in the first five minutes of play. The Jaguars continued to capitalize on their center passes to avoid staying too far behind. The Crinums’ first turnover came in the form of a wayward feed, but Goal Keeper Ané Retief quickly replied with an intercept to nullify the unforced error. The Jaguars’ defensive increase was able to reduce the gap to just one in the opening quarter, with the Crinums leading 14-13.
The Jaguars kicked into gear and scored their equalizer in the second quarter. They ignited some spark and dominated defensively in the Crinums’ shooting circle, causing uncharacteristic missed shots from Goal Attack Lefebre Rademan, who was shooting on a forty-four-goal percentage. The Jaguars reaped the rewards through their superb conversion rate and were ahead by five goals. The deficit elicited a strategic stoppage from coach Martha Mosoahle-Samm, who used the opportunity to instruct the Crinums to practice discipline around the circle edge. The Jaguars fired up even more defensively and took an eight-goal lead at half-time.
The Crinums found some relief up front after scoring three consecutive goals in the opening minutes of the third quarter, closing the gap to five goals. Jasmine Ziegelmeier and Jamie Van Wyk peaked in the defensive circle, overpowering Crinums Shooters Rademan and Rolene Streutker by sweeping away bounce passes and denying ball entry, thus restoring their eight-goal lead.
Two defensive changes came in for the side of the Crinums in the final quarter as the Free State team had one more shot to turn the tables around, as the score was close enough to be anyone’s game. Refiloe Nketsa made an impact early on Wing Defense, turning ball for her team. Both teams had only scored three goals apiece, six minutes into the quarter, and Jaguars coach Rozanne Matthyse was clearly not impressed with the drop in momentum and called for a timeout. The Jaguars’ mental fortitude pulled through, and the Gauteng team was able to produce a masterful finish, punishing the Crinums at every chance to hoist their sixth league title following a 51-59 win.
Meanwhile, last year’s champions, the Golden Fireballs, settled for a bronze medal following their Jaguars semi-final defeat and outsmarting the Stings to a 51-47 victory. Ten seconds into the game, the Stings made their first change on Wing Defense, bringing in Zane Bodenstein in place of Mandolene Hermanus. The Stings won the first turnover early and converted, taking a two-goal lead. The pressure cooker lifted from both sides, but the defensive battle was dominated by the Stings who did a brilliant job turning balls inside the Fireballs’ shooting circle and led the first quarter 16-12. The Fireballs worked incessantly in trying to keep up, but the Stings made the path to goal very taxing, extending their lead by five goals in the first thirty minutes of play.
The Fireballs responded with a commanding defensive show in the third quarter and were quick to close the gap to just one goal in the opening five minutes. Goal Defense Monica Gomases snatched a cheeky defensive rebound to level matters. The rest of the quarter was goal for goal and the Fireballs’ relentless pressure gave the side a four-goal win.
The curtain closed on the 2023 edition of the Telkom Netball League after 110 matches and the new season will see the Division Two champions, Limpopo Baobabs move up to Division One after beating the Kingdom Stars in the promotion/relegation game. The Stars are now relegated and will feature in Division Two next year.
DIVISION ONE INDIVIDUAL AWARDS:
|Best Shooter||Nichole Taljaard||Stings|
|Best Mid-court||Refiloe Nketsa||Crinums|
|Best Defender||Jamie Van Wyk||Jaguars|
|Player of the Tournament||Khanyisa Chawane||Crinums|
DIVISION ONE FINAL STANDINGS:
PROMOTION/RELEGATION MATCH| Stars 37-55 Baobabs
Div.1 BRONZE FINAL| Fireballs 51-47 Stings
Div.1 FINAL| Crinums 51-59 Jaguars