The North West Flames beat the Kingdom Stars by 56 goals to 33 in their Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League match at the Rembrandt Hall at the University of Pretoria on Friday night.
It was a match of two halves and it was fortunate for the Flames that they had built up a comfortable cushion in the first half. They won the first quarter 18-9 and the second 17-3 to lead by 35 goals to 12 at halftime.
But the Stars stormed back in the second half, losing the third quarter 11-9 and winning the final quarter 12-10.
The 48-year-old Stars goalshooter Buyi Buthelezi was as solid as a rock, with 100 per cent accuracy in the second, third and final quarters.
“Thank heavens for my youngsters – and my oldster, Buyi,” said Stars coach Madri Maritz.
“The youngsters really came through in the second half and I am very proud of them.
“If we had played like that the whole match, it could have been a different story, but we seemed to fall apart in the second quarter, and the Flames took advantage of that.
“What we need is more consistency,” said Maritz.
Flames coach Elsje Jordaan was frustrated by her team’s second half performance.
“I think the physicality of the game got to my attack – the Stars really psyched us out,” she said.
“I gave my youngsters a go in the second half, and I think they found the physical nature of the game hard to deal with,” said Jordaan.
“We need to work on discipline and mature decision making. I was pleased with our defence throughout but our attack was poor in the second half.”
As expected, the Gauteng Jaguars made light work of the Mpumalanga Sunbirds in the earlier match, beating them by 58 goals to 19, after leading 23-8 at halftime.
The Jaguars took complete control of the match in the third quarter, with a flurry of unanswered goals.
The defenders on both sides were outstanding, with a number of turnovers, but the unbeaten defending champions were just too good for the Sunbirds, who have not won a match so far this year.
“We started better than usual,” said Sunbirds coach Marlie Nel.
“Usually we are quite tentative at the start, but we were better this time. Our third quarter was a disaster and the Jaguars got right away from us. However, I was able to try out some different combinations in preparation for our match against the Aloes tomorrow. We believe we have a chance of beating them, but it’s going to be tough – they are also hungry for a win.”
Jaguars coach Jenny van Dyk said she thought the defence on both sides was brilliant.
“What we need is to sharpen our attacking play,” said Van Dyk.
“We need to work on creativity and decision making.”
She said the match had been a good warm-up for their important match against the Free State Crinums on Saturday.
“I would like to see the senior players giving the younger players more confidence, particularly the shooters. They need to pass on some of their experience to the youngsters,” she said.