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The defending champions, the Free State Crinums, suffered their second successive defeat in the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League when they were comprehensively beaten, 53-34, by the Golden Fireballs at the Durban University of Technology on Sunday. The Gauteng team were in control of the match throughout, leading 21-13 at halftime. The Crinums fought back in the third quarter and reduced the goal deficit to three goals before the Fireballs pulled away again. The third quarter was the closest of the match, with the Crinums scoring 11 goals to 12 for the Fireballs. In the final quarter, it was one-way traffic, with the Fireballs outscoring the Crinums 20-10.

The match was very competitive, with the defence in both circles making life difficult for the shooters.

Fireballs coach Elsje Jordaan was justifiably happy with her team’s performance.

“I was pleased that the senior players stepped up today. The win will give the team confidence going further into the tournament,” she said.

“It’s not nice to lose, but I am not at all negative,” said the Crinums coach, Burta de Kock.

“I have a younger team and they are not used to the pressure, but this will help them to cope with it.

“We will go back and do some fine-tuning and work on our combinations.”

In the earlier match, the Gauteng North Jaguars mauled the Mpumalanga Sunbirds, beating them by 63 goals to 20. The Sunbirds once again struggled to score goals and the Jaguars were 10 goals to the good by the time the Sunbirds put their first ball through the net. The Jaguars defence was fierce, and goal defence Shadine van der Merwe and goalkeeper Jasmine Ziegelmeier did an outstanding job of turning over balls in the Sunbirds’ circle.

“It’s been a valuable first weekend for us,” said Jaguars coach Jenny van Dyk.

“I was able to give everybody a chance to show what they could do, and I also saw very effective combinations that I hadn’t thought of.”

Sunbirds coach Marlie Nel thought her team had performed better than in their first match, against the Limpopo Baobabs.

“We didn’t make all those silly mistakes and I was proud that they fought hard right to the end,” said Nel.