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The second weekend of the 2018 Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League got under way with two dominant performances – from last year’s champions the Gauteng Jaguars, and the Western Cape Southern Stings at the Ellis Park Indoor Arena in Johannesburg on Friday.

While they may have had a somewhat wobbly start against the Limpopo Baobabs, the defending champions ultimately had little trouble in dispatching last year’s eighth-placed side, who failed to register a win last weekend.

The teams were neck and neck for the first 10 minutes, but the Jaguars soon surged ahead to lead 14-7 by the first break. Another assured performance in the second period meant they extended that lead significantly, and it wasn’t until numerous substitutions were made in the third quarter, that the Baobabs could offer up any kind of decent challenge. The Limpopo side scored 12 goals to the Jaguars’ 14 in that quarter but it wasn’t enough to bridge the hefty gap that had already been built in the preceding passage of play.

The fourth quarter was another horrible one for the Baobabs as they fell behind even further, the Jaguars finishing as 70-32 victors.

“It was a good game today,” said Jaguars coach Jenny van Dyk after the match. “Not the greatest start as we were struggling to find a bit of momentum and our rhythm and that’s something we need to have a good look at. I feel we were slow off the mark.

“But then there are a lot of youngsters putting up their hands, showing us they’ve got a lot of potential, which is always a coach-confuser and that’s something great for us, to be uncomfortable,” she added of her selection options going forward.

“We’re looking forward to the next match. The build-up has been good this week, just taking the momentum of the first weekend and trying to push that into the second,” added Van Dyk, paying tribute to young goal shooter Chanté Louw, captain Shadine van der Merwe and centre Izette Griesel for their impressive performances on the night.

Baobabs coach Jenni-Lee Delport added: “Starting the match, seeing the Jaguars putting on their top starting seven – I didn’t expect that. I thought they’d bring them on later, like they did against the Diamonds.

“But my players were fantastic the first 10 minutes. At 7-6 down I was like ‘Wow, this is awesome’ and then obviously the last five minutes of the first quarter were just shocking. Then the second quarter was even worse. I was so frustrated – making silly, stupid, grade-one-type mistakes. It was like they were never warmed up,” admitted Delport.

In the second match of the evening, the Southern Stings annihilated the Mpumalanga Sunbirds, dominating from start to finish to claim a 58-16 win.

The Sunbirds, who finished second from bottom in 2017, could only manage one goal in the first 15 minutes, while the Stings slotted in 13. It just got worse from there, and it wasn’t until the last nine minutes that the Mpumalanga team hit double figures. With a shooting percentage of under 50 per cent compared to the Western Cape side shooting over 80 per cent, it was never going to be easy for the Sunbirds.

“We’re very happy with the performance,” said Stings coach Annelie Lucas. “We started slowly with some silly mistakes, so we just decided they needed to focus and work on the second phase.

“We also decided I was going to mix up the team so we had a diverse group of girls, with the shooters that we can use in different combinations. We also had great teamwork from the defenders. But there are still too many basic mistakes that we’re making and need to work on,” added Lucas.

Sunbirds coach Marlie Nel reckoned: “It was tough! We never thought it was going to be an easy match, but my players never stopped fighting until the end. We’ll have to go back to the drawing board before tomorrow’s match.”

Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League action continues on Saturday morning at the Ellis Park Indoor Arena with the first match of the day between the Free State Crinums and the KZN Kingdom Stars at 11am.