Zanne-Marie Pienaar of Fireballs challenged by Sne Mkhize of Kingdom Stars at the Ellis Park Arena in Johannesburg on Sunday. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – The Gauteng Fireballs beat the KZN Kingdom Stars 39-31 in their Netball Premier League match at Ellis Park Indoor Arena on Sunday.

At 6-0 down to the KZN Kingdom Stars after only a few minutes, Fireballs’ Dorette Badenhorst was not a happy coach.

She’s experienced enough not to panic, though, and sure enough, her team managed to keep their composure and not let the game get away from them.

Just one goal down at the first break, the Fireballs played themselves back into contention, eventually leading 17-15 at the half time break and then opening up a significant cushion in the final quarter to claim the victory.

It’s their third win out of four matches in the competition so far (their only loss coming at the hands of the defending champions – the Gauteng Jaguars), but Badenhorst is still not happy.

“We’re still not playing good netball, we still need to arrive,” she admitted after the game.

“Some of the things we’ve worked on are coming together, but we’re definitely struggling with certain things and we need to get it right soon. Otherwise it will be too late.”

Talking about the shaky start her team had, the coach pointed out: “Sometimes you lose a game in the first few minutes, and I think it they had scored on all their shots we would’ve been in trouble.

“We actually only came back because of their missed shots. So, we’re a little bit lucky on that one.”

Gauteng Fireballs coach Dorette Badenhorst was not happy with her team’s performance against KZN. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Stars coach Madri Maritz was far from disappointed with her team after their second loss of the weekend.

“I need to commend my players. They came out really hard and never stopped fighting. They played their hearts out in every single quarter.

“To lose and know they’ve played their hearts out – I’m very proud of them,” she said, adding that they’ll be working on keeping calm in the circle to improve their shooting percentage before next weekend’s third round.

Meanwhile, the Northern Cape Diamonds once again struggled, plummeting to their fourth consecutive heavy loss of the tournament so far, this time against the Free State Crinums, who are yet to lose a game.

The Crinums have of course won this tournament on three occasions, and with their superior speed and skill, were always likely to overpower the team from the Northern Cape that finished in bottom spot last year.

Coach Burta de Kock’s side duly did the business – handing their coach the perfect birthday present with a 76-23 victory.

The Crinums had already entered double figures before the Diamonds could get themselves on to the scoreboard and they were never coming back from that deficit, falling 20-4 behind by the first break and then 38-13 by halftime.

“I’m very happy because I could use all 12 players, and different combinations to find out what’s working and what we can still work on for the week ahead,” said De Kock.

“We had a wonderful start, good consistency throughout the court with different combinations, and quick into the flow zone, which makes me happy.

“Here and there we missed a few shots – maybe a little out of focus – but there’s a wonderful spirit in the camp because all of them got onto court this week and last week.”

In the final game of the weekend, the North West Flames claimed an emphatic 62-24 win over the Eastern Cape Aloes, who are yet to record a victory in the tournament.

“I’m more pleased with this weekend than last weekend. We really didn’t start well, but I think that was the best thing that could’ve happened to us – just to realise how much hard work we still had to do,” said Flames coach Elsjé Jordaan.

African News Agency (ANA)