The Golden Fireballs held on to beat the star-studded Kingdom Stars  45-35 in a fast and very physical Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League match at the Heartfelt Arena on Friday evening.

Although the Gauteng side were in the lead throughout the match, the Kigndom Stars came back strongly in the second half.  The Fireballs had a 23-14 lead at halftime, but the Stars stormed back after the break, and won the third quarter by 13 goals to 10.  For the first half of the final quarter, the Stars played superbly and at one stage were only three goals behind.  But as the minutes ticked by, the Fireballs reasserted their dominance, and gradually pulled away again.

Fireballs goal attack Talja Venter, who was named player of the match, had an outstanding game, and succeeded with a number of goals from the edge of the circle.

“I’m satisfied with the match, but I wasn’t happy with that third quarter,” said Fireballs coach Elsje Jordaan.

“We have a number of inexperienced players, and they had five Proteas on the court, so it was a good win.  We don’t have any super stars , but we play as a team.  Big wins like this will build their confidence.  They need to develop a killer instinct,” she said.

Marchelle Maroon, the Stars’ coach, said it had been a humbling experience for the Stars.

“You can have five international players and still lose,” she said.

“The Fireballs play a very structured game, and we were all over the place.  We have a lot of work to do, but it is still early days in the competition.”FIREBALL

Earlier, the Mpumalanga Sunbirds got off to a brilliant start in their match against the North West Flames, matching them goal for goal in the first few minutes.

The Flames, however, regrouped and took command of the match, extending their lead with every quarter.  They were 32-13 ahead at halftime and won the match by 66 goals to 28. Flames goal attack Renske Stoltz was named player of the match.

Flames coach Dorette Badenhorst said she was not happy with the way her team played at the start of the match.

“They didn’t play to the game plan.  We knew their goalkeeper, Palesa Mbukwama, was a brilliant player, and they let her get to them,” she said.

“But they settled down and were much better as the match went on.”

The Sunbirds played in the second division last year, and Badenhorst said former first division sides under-estimated the second division teams at their peril.

“There are no easy games this year,” she said.

Sunbirds coach Jenne-Lee Delport, was pleased with the way her team played.

“It was their first time against one of the first division teams, and they will learn a lot from playing them,” she said.

“What I want is for them to play the way they did at the beginning and in the last five minutes, when we matched them goal for goal.  We are going to taker each match as it comes and we will get better as we go on.”