Southern Stings 53-37 North West Flames
The Southern Stings produced one of the finest defensive efforts of the opening weekend of the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League to defeat last year’s runners up, the North West Flames, 53-37 at Ellis Park Arena in Johannesburg this afternoon.
After a series of fairly large winning margins in matches earlier in the day and on the opening night on Friday, it seemed this might be the match that might deliver the tightest contest of the day. That certainly proved to be the case in the opening quarter as the teams swapped the lead and reached the break just one goal apart – 11-10 in the Stings’ favour. It was still fairly even as the teams went to half time four goals apart on 27-23 to the team from the Western Cape.
But that’s as close as it got in the end, with the Flames struggling in the circle and squandering numerous scoring opportunities, while the Stings impressed on both defence and their basic skills. It was a slick team performance all-round and saw the Stings surging ahead to win it by 16 goals at the final whistle.
“We did expect a closer game. We know the type of players they have and we know that Elsje [Jordaan] in a very good coach,” admitted Stings coach Annelie Lucas afterwards.
“At the beginning of the game we were too loose so we played into their hands, but when we tightened up the game, eventually it went out way. Our defence was on par tonight. They were sharp and I know Helene [Steyn] got the player of the match, but I think Stephanie Brandt, our keeper, also really outdid herself. Her timing was on and she just turned the ball for us there. If you have tight defence, then it’s easy.”
Flames coach Jordaan explained that an injury to their number one shooter had caused the team’s scoring woes. “Our attack is a brand new combination and it showed, and obviously if you don’t convert, you can’t win. I’m not happy with the shooting effort at all. But I’m quite happy that now we know what we need to work on. And we’ll be back hopefully.”
Gauteng Fireballs 44-25 Mpumalanga Sunbirds
In the final match of the day, the Mpumalanga Sunbirds sank to their second defeat in as many days with a 44-25 loss to the Gauteng Fireballs. It was always going to be a tough task for the team that finished second last in 2017, coming up against the third-placed Gauteng side, and they struggled to match the skill from the better-drilled team.