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The Golden Fireballs continued with their dominance in the Telkom Netball League, beating the Kingdom Stars 54-33 to make it three out of three wins this morning at the Ngoako Ramatlhodi Sports Complex in Polokwane. The Stars had a slow start to the match, fumbling three of their centre passes and getting onto the scoreboard four minutes into the game. However, the KZN side managed to close the gap to just three in the opening quarter following some remarkable defensive efforts at the back.

Fireballs coach Dr Elsjé Jordaan opted for a moving shooting circle in the second quarter to up the tempo, pairing Nomfundo Mngomezulu on Goal Shooter and Owethu Ngubane on Goal Attack. The Stars’ defenders had trouble keeping up with the duo in the circle as they continued to add to the tally and lead 29-18 at half-time. A tightly contested mid-court battle saw both coaches making changes on the centre position, but the situation got tougher for the Stars when talisman Nozipho Ntshangase had to be subbed off following a hurtful fall. Fortunately, Ntshangase made a return in the final quarter alongside partner Thulisile Maduna. The Fireballs’ holistic team pressure was just too strong for Precious Mthembu’s side, and they ended up losing their second match in a row.

Meanwhile, the Southern Stings overpowered the Eastern Cape Aloes, turning a first quarter two-goal deficit into a 64-34 win. The Aloes had a bold start to the match, standing their ground against their strong opponents. Stings coach Nicolene Martin made two defensive and attacking changes respectively in the second quarter when her team was four goals behind. Both teams’ defensive circles were looking strong and gaining a lot of ball for their teams, but the Stings’ were able to capitalize more to even things out at half-time. Stings’ engine Shannen Bartlett sustained an injury and couldn’t finish the game, but that still didn’t demoralize the team from attaining their end goal. The Cape Town team turned up the heat in the third quarter, denying the Aloes a chance to score in the first seven minutes through their well-built defensive wall. Finishing on a fifty-seven goal percentage, meant that the Aloes only managed to slot in just nine goals in the second half and conceded a total of twenty six turnovers.

Coach Sameshia Esau says the team will look to build on their first-half performance, ‘’We went back to our drawing board after the game against Kingdom Stars and we needed to come into this game and just play our own type of netball. We obviously had a strong start but it is just the fitness level that couldn’t pull us through to the end of this match. The main thing I focused on was for me to get my combinations right and go into this game and build confidence. Going into the second leg, it will get better. The fact that we beat the Stings in the first quarter, for me, that is a big result.’’

The Flames and the Crinums met for the first team this year and the Flames showed character against a solid Crinums side and in the first thirty minutes, but the Crinums regrouped from the third quarter and widened the gap to twelve goals, making it hard for the Flames to bounce back. The Crinums walked away as victors after a 55-36 win following a strong seal.

In Division Two, The Limpopo Baobabs put on a show on home soil to defeat the Free State Sonoblomo 70-35. The Ngoako Ramatlhodi Sports Complex was already buzzing by the time the game started, and the home team certainly played to the crowd’s atmosphere. The first fifteen minutes were very competitive, with both teams putting up a fight, but a couple of unforced errors from the Sonoblomo gave the Baobabs a seven-goal advantage.

A different shooting pair was introduced in the second quarter by the Free State side; Melandri Meyer moved to Goal Keeper and Amy Jacobs took over the Goal Shooter bib from Bianca Pienaar, who was said to not be feeling well. The duo found it difficult to connect in the circle, especially with the storm of pressure that was being applied by the Baobabs’ defenders. Muhluri Hlatshwayo found joy in converting most of those gains, boasting a ninety-one goal percentage at the halfway mark.

The Sonoblomo displayed an improved performance in the third quarter, following some smooth feeds into the circle, and scored eleven goals. However, they still had a twenty six goal deficit to overturn. Baobabs’ coach, Emily Mathosa made some wholesome changes in the last quarter to give every single player a chance to play. Marichelle Visagie put in a great shift in all four quarters, leading her team upfront and converting twenty six out of the thirty goal attempts, to earn herself a Player of the match accolade.

The Eastern Cape Comets and the Tornados battled it out, and both teams were high in confidence having not lost a game ahead of this match. The Comets had a great start to the game, converting two of the Tornados’ centre passes to take an early lead but the Western Cape team were quick to recover halfway through the first quarter to take a 14-11 lead. The Comets allowed the Tornados to shine, giving away easy balls and showing some tired legs and trailed by seven goals at half-time. Wendy Higson’s team suffered a huge blow after Goal Attack Ninke Barnard sustained a serious injury and had to be taken to hospital. Freda Kemp was pleased with her side’s showing as they walked away with a 53-40 victory.

Lastly, the Diamonds kept their cool when the Kingdom Queens were the supporters’ favorites and defeated them 45-32 in the process. The first half produced some exciting moments, but ball placement was an issue for the Queens, as they rushed too quickly to try and get the ball in the shooting circle. This resulted to more gains for the Diamonds, which they were able to finish off in order to lead by five goals at half-time. Both teams were equally matched in the third quarter, which ended 10-all after a defensive battle from both ends and the shooters making sure that the feeds into the circles didn’t  go to waste. The Queens dropped momentum and the Diamonds remained fired up, but still practiced good patience to see themselves through right till the end.

Fireballs 54-33 Stars
Comets 40-53 Tornados
Stings 64-34 Aloes
Queens 32-45 Diamonds
Baobabs 70-35 Sonoblomo
Crinums 55-36 Flames

Sunday Fixtures: 30/04/2023

8:00- Sunbirds vs Queens

10:00- Stars vs Crinums

12:00- Aloes vs Fireballs

14:00- Diamonds vs Comets

16:00- Tornados vs Lilies

18:00- Jaguars vs Flames