The Free State Crinums beat a revitalised Gauteng Fireballs team 44-43 in a nail-biting Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League (BFNPL) match at the University of Pretoria Sports Centre on Sunday.
Both teams bounced back after defeats on Saturday – the Crinums to defending champions, the Gauteng Jaguars, and the Fireballs to the North West Flames.
The Crinums – who won the first three BFNPL titles – started well and took the early lead but the Fireballs came back and by the end of the first quarter, the teams were level at 12-12.
The Fireballs took the lead for the first time in the second quarter, with three unanswered goals before the Crinums responded with three of their own. They traded goal for goal before the Crinums scored six goals on the trot to lead 26-20 at half-time.
The Fireballs fought their way back into the match in the third quarter, outscoring the Crinums by 13 goals to eight to take the lead again.
It all came down to the final quarter, when both teams threw everything they had into the game. The lead changed hands several times, with outstanding defence at both ends, but a few fumbled passes by the Fireballs put the Crinums back in the lead.
‘I thought we were the better team on the court,’ said Fireballs coach Dorette Badenhorst. ‘We lost because of four missed passes.
‘We had a long discussion after our defeat by the Flames yesterday, and the girls played as a team today. I was impressed by their guts and determination. We are now focusing on the positives and you could see the impact on the way they played today,’ said Badenhorst.
The Limpopo Baobabs concluded their successful weekend with an emphatic and historic 50-40 win over the Eastern Cape Aloes.
The two mid-table teams were evenly matched in the first quarter, with the Baobabs winning the quarter 12-11, but the northern team stamped their authority over the coastal team in the second, at one stage scoring six unanswered goals to lead 27-19 at half-time.
They continued their dominance in the third quarter, but in the final quarter, the Aloes fought back to win it by 13 goals to 12.
‘I’m so excited,’ said Baobabs coach Jenny-Lee Delport. ‘It’s the first time ever that we’ve beaten the Aloes and if things go according to plan, we could even end up sixth.’
Aloes coach Des Neville said her team needed greater consistency. ‘We did well in the first and final quarters, but things are so tight in this competition that you can’t ease off at any stage.’
The Western Cape Stings crushed their northern neighbours, the Northern Cape Diamonds, 81-27 in a one-sided match.
The Diamonds were totally outclassed, with eight goals in the second quarter their best score, whereas the Stings were remarkably consistent, scoring at least 20 goals a quarter.
‘I gave my youngsters a bit of a run today,’ said Stings coach Danlee Mathews. ‘A match like this gives you an opportunity to try out your systems and different combinations.
‘We set targets for each quarter – we wanted 20 goals a quarter and we achieved that. So I’m very happy with the way they played today.’
The tournament continues at the Pretoria University Sports Centre next Friday, when the Fireballs take on the Aloes.
Western Cape Stings 81 Northern Cape Diamonds 27, Free State Crinums 44 Gauteng Fireballs 43, Limpopo Baobabs 50 Eastern Cape Aloes 40
Photo: Kealeboga Kgomoedira of Northern Cape Diamonds and Juline Van Der Merwe of the Southern Stings, by Frikkie Kapp/BackpagePix