Share this article

The SPAR Smileys had a decisive 64-38 win over three-times champions, the Free State Crinums, in their Telkom Netball League (TNL) match at the Pretoria University Sports Centre on Sunday.

The SPAR Smileys are locally-based members of the national squad who are using the TNL as part of their preparations for the Netball World Cup in Liverpool in July.

The Smileys led 14-9 after the first quarter and extended their lead to 33-19 by halftime.  Alicia Puren (goalshooter) and Renske Stoltz (goal attack) had their shooting boots on and kept the scoreboard ticking over.

Coach Dorette Badenhorst made some changes at halftime, including bringing Tanja Venter on at goal attack and replacing veteran centre Erin Burger with Khanyisa Chawane and then Izette Griesel. The Smileys won the quarter by the narrow margin of three goals but stepped up the pressure in the final quarter, winning it 18-8.

“I am very happy,” said Badenhorst.

“I expected a tougher game, but I was pleased with the way the combinations worked and the way they stuck to the game plan.”

Crinums coach Burta de Kock said some of her younger players appeared to have stage fright.

“They are not used to playing at this level and some of them are a bit over-awed.  But that’s how they grow, by playing against the best.

“I am generally very satisfied,” said De Kock.

After drawing their opening match against the Eastern Cape Aloes, the Kingdom Stars were desperate to record their first victory, and they did so by beating the Limpopo Baobabs 52-47 in a Division Two match.  The Stars raced into the lead and at halftime were ahead by 32 goals to 22.  But they had some anxious moments, as the Baobabs came back strongly in the second half, winning the third quarter 11-10 and the final quarter 14-10.

“Our aim is to move up into the first division next year, so it is important that we win our matches,” said Stars captain Precious Mthembu.

“I am excited about our team – there is young blood that is pulsing through it.”

Baobabs coach Anna Ledwaba was happy her team’s performance.

“It’s my job as coach to identify our opponents’ weaknesses and exploit them, and we were able to do this in the second half.  We will be better prepared for them the next time,” said Ledwaba.

It was business as usual for the Gauteng Jaguars as they shrugged off their defeat at the hands of the Southern Stings on Friday to beat the North West Flames 58-47. 

The Jaguars, winners of the Netball League in 2017 and 2018, took the lead early on and stayed there throughout the match.  They won the first quarter 15-10.  The Flames came back strongly in the second quarter, and were trailing by just two goals (25-23) at halftime.

But the Jaguars simply stepped up a gear and outscored the Flames by 18 goals to 12 (43-35) in the third quarter and by 15 goals to 12 in the fourth.

 “We’ve had a big load this weekend, and I am happy with the way they are playing,” said Jaguars coach Jenny van Dyk.

“I used my whole squad and gave all the bench players a run.”

Flames coach Elsje Jordaan was also pleased with her team.

“I have some very young players – for instance, my two centres were both still at school last year – and they are a little overwhelmed by the intensity of the matches.  But I know what I have to do and I am excited about the next few weeks,” said Jordaan.

In the first match of the day, the Mpumalanga Sunbirds beat the Northern Cape Diamonds 52-45, after leading 29-22 at halftime.

The teams traded goals for the first five or six minutes before the Sunbirds started pulling away.  They won the first quarter 15-11 and the second 14-11. 

The Diamonds appeared somewhat listless in the third quarter, which the Sunbirds won by 12 goals to eight, but they stormed back in the final quarter, winning it 15-11 and making the final score closer than seemed possible earlier in the match.

 “I made some big changes in the third quarter – I changed all my defenders and the centre,” said Sunbirds coach Theresa Rossouw. 

“We need to focus on sticking to our game plan and on playing as a team.”

Elfrieda Luyt, the Diamonds coach, was also concerned about the lack of cohesion in her team.

“They are playing as individuals and not working together.  But I am happy that I have some new players and things will improve as the tournament goes on,” said Luyt.