The Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League match between the Kingdom Stars and the Limpopo Baobabs at the Pretoria University Sports Centre turned into a humdinger. The two mid-ranked teams were fighting for a place in the play-offs so both gave it their all.
The KwaZulu Natal team ultimately won the match 50-46, but they had to fight hard for their victory.
At the first interval, the Stars led 15-12, but the Baobabs came storming back in the second quarter. Goalshooter Grace Lechaba scored 12 goals from 12 attempts and the Baobabs won the quarter by 14 goals to eight to lead 26-23 at halftime.
The Stars won the third quarter by 16 goals to eight, to lead 39-34 and it appeared to be all over for the Limpopo team. However, they fought hard again in the final quarter and with two minutes to go, were just one goal behind the Stars. The Stars pulled out all the stops and scored four consecutive goals to take the match.
Both teams succeeded with some outstanding intercepts and turnovers.
“You live for matches like this,” said Baobabs coach Jenne-lee Delport.
“It was quite a rollercoaster. I was so proud of the way they came back in the second quarter, but there were a few unforced errors that cost us. My goalshooters are both teenagers and I think the pressure in the final few minutes was just too much for them.”
Stars coach Madri Maritz said she had expected a very tough match from the Stars.
“I was very worried when they were just one goal behind, with two minutes to go. But my girls have a fighting spirit and I was proud of the way they never gave up,” said Maritz.
In the first match of the day, the Northern Cape Diamonds put on their best performance of the tournament so far against the Mpumalanga Sunbirds.
The Sunbirds won by 43 goals to 34, but victory was never assured until the final whistle.
The two teams shared the first quarter 9-all.
The Sunbirds scored five goals in a row at the start of the second quarter, but the Diamonds replied with five of their own. However, the Sunbirds gradually pulled away and were 25-19 ahead at halftime.
The Diamonds came back in the third quarter, which they won 9-7, but in the final quarter, the Sunbirds stepped up a gear, outscoring the Northern Cape team 12-6.
“It was our best performance and I am very pleased with the team,” said Diamonds coach Elfreda Luyt.
“Our shooters are coming right and our defence was very good.”
“Things didn’t go as planned but I am very happy for the win,” said Sunbirds coach Marlie Nel.
“We struggled a bit in the first quarter because their defence was very tough.”