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The much anticipated Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League match between the North West Flames and the Gauteng North Jaguars lived up to expectations, with the crowd cheering every goal as the teams battled it out at the UCT Indoor Sports Centre on Friday night. The Flames finally prevailed, beating the Jaguars 49-45, after trailing 23-19 at halftime.

The match started at a frenetic pace, and Flames coach, Dorette Badenhorst, had to call a strategic timeout in the first quarter, to tell her players to calm down. Although the Jaguars won the first quarter 14-10, the Flames gradually gained the upper hand. The second quarter was shared, 9-all, and it was halfway through the third that the Flames finally edged ahead. Although the Jaguars fought hard, the Flames managed to stay ahead until the end.

Both sides achieved some superb intercepts and turnovers and the shooters on both sides were in good form.

Badenhorst said the victory was the result of the players working for one another and believing in themselves and the team.

“There’s a lot at stake in this tournament – there’s Proteas selection, and Under-21s, and also the thought of the cash bonus if you win player of the match. But I told them to put that out of their minds and to work together, and that is what they did tonight,” she said.

She said goal shooter Kifiloe Tsotetsi had played an important role in the victory.

“We can’t expect (goal attack) Renske Stoltz to do everything,” she said. “We started well, but we were a bit flat after halftime,” said Jaguars coach Jenny van Dyk.

“I always knew this would be a very tough match and I am very proud of the effort the girls put in. I made a couple of strategic changes – mainly to close down Renske but they didn’t work in that last quarter.”

The Golden Fireballs overpowered the Limpopo Baobabs 74-31, after leading 39-16 at halftime. The Baobabs are a better team than they were a year ago, but the Fireballs have also shown a marked improvement. The Fireballs’ defence and attack were both on song, making it difficult for the Limpopo team to score. It was only in the final quarter, when Baobabs coach Dumisani Chauke brought her front line players back, on that the northern team looked competitive. After scoring only four goals in the third quarter, they kept pace with the Fireballs and lost the quarter by only three goals.

“I was happy with the team, except for the last quarter” said Fireballs coach Elsje Jordaan.

“They seemed to lose focus. If we want to succeed in this tournament, we have to play for four quarters.

“But it was great to be able to give all my players a run,” said Jordaan. “If only my team had played the rest of the match the way they played the final quarter,” said Chauke.

“After the third quarter, I just told them to show some guts – and they did. So when they play the Jaguars tomorrow, I am just going to tell them to show some guts.”

“They were up against players they idolise, and I think they were a bit over-awed. But it is no good saying “ooh, I am playing against Lindie Lombard or Nadia Uys. Those players have the same three seconds with the ball and the same area to play in. They have to treat them like any other players.”