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Free State Crinums captain Maryke Holtzhausen spoke about composure ahead of their Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League semifinal clash with the North West Flames at Durban’s Olive Convention Centre on Friday.
And that’s exactly what won the match for the defending champions – coming from behind to take the win 45-42 and with that a place in Saturday’s final against the Gauteng Jaguars.
The Jaguars booked their spot in the final, for what will be a replay of the 2014 and 2015 finals, with a 64-43 win over the Western Province Southern Stings.
But it was the two-time champion Crinums that produced the performance of the night – patiently biding their time before striking their final blow in the dying minutes of the match.
The first quarter saw a few nerves evident on court and it was a see-saw affair with the lead changing hands several times before the season’s only unbeaten team, the Flames, edged ahead to finish 10-11 up at the break.
It was equally tight in the second with the teams reaching the half time break level at 23-23 and it was much of the same in the third. But the Flames looked the better team – getting quick ball into the circle while the Crinums were guilty of some silly errors that gave the Flames a two-goal lead at the final break.
But it was then the experience, and composure that comes with it, that kicked in for the Crinums as captain Holtzhausen (later named player of the match) and defender Karla Mostert shone in the final two minutes of the match.
“We are very happy and want to thank the Flames for a fantastic game,” said a thrilled Crinums coach, Burta de Kock afterwards. “I think it was the team with the least mistakes that won because we could keep ball possession and stay in the match,” she added.
Holtzhausen admitted it wasn’t the best of starts for her team. “I think at the beginning we made it a bit difficult for ourselves. But well done to the Flames – they gave it all they’ve got and at the end I think a bit of big match temperament won it there for us.
“I think that really showed in the last two minutes. And it showed the character that our team has. I’m really proud of the girls.”
Flames coach Dorette Badenhorst said: “Well done to the Crinums – they’ve done well and played an excellent last quarter. They took their opportunities and with players like Maryke and Karla – it was a great game for them – they turned the game.
“Experience will always play a big role in a game like this. It was actually such a great game of netball but at the end of the day it is experience that counts.”
Experience certainly aided the Gauteng Jaguars in their convincing win over the Western Cape Southern Stings with star shooter Lenise Potgieter returning to the side after her time playing in England’s Premier League.
While the first quarter was a close one, ending 14-13 in the Jaguars’ favour, the Stings seemed to lose their basic skills in the second period, scoring just eight goals as the Jaguars extended their lead to 34-21 by half time.
Seven changes to the Stings team in the third quarter did nothing to curb the flow of Jaguars goals as they extended their lead to 18 by the final break. And it was pretty much game over by that stage, with Jaguars coach Jenny van Dyk able to give her reserve players some court-time in the final quarter, and the Pretoria side eventually winning 64-43.
After the game, Van Dyk said: “My girls had a great game and it was a great time to come through like that… We’ve played quite a few games against men’s teams which gave us the intensity and it worked for us today.”
As for the prospect of coming up against the Crinums in Saturday’s final, having lost to the Free State team in the last two finals, Van Dyk added: “This time we’ve got a score to settle.”
Stings coach Annelie Lucas reckoned: “We definitely lost the game in the second quarter. We couldn’t produce. It’s a bit disappointing. The girls tried their best at the end but it wasn’t good enough. We were outplayed tonight. Sometimes you just have to take the defeat and go back and start from the beginning again.”
Saturday’s final of the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League takes place at 6pm at the Olive Convention Centre in Durban, while the third place playoff will be played at 4pm at the same venue. Both matches will be broadcast live on SuperSport.