Jaguars finally grab title

2017-06-14 06:02
Monique Reyneke of the North-West Flames (left) challenged by Simphiwe Sithebe of the Gauteng Golden Fireballs during the 2017 Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League match at the Mangaung Sports Complex. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Monique Reyneke of the North-West Flames (left) challenged by Simphiwe Sithebe of the Gauteng Golden Fireballs during the 2017 Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League match at the Mangaung Sports Complex. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

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After finishing as runners-up three times in a row, things finally came together for the Gauteng Jaguars, who beat the North-West Flames by 49-43 in a thrilling final of the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League at the Mangaung Indoor Sports Centre on Sunday afternoon (11/06).

The Northern Cape Diamonds lost by 26-66 against Kingdom Stars on Saturday, 3 June.

The final was a fast game, with play moving from one end of the court to the other at a rapid rate.

The Jaguars took the early lead, but the Flames soon caught up and stole.

They had a three-goal lead before the Jaguars struck back and drew level on 14-14.

The Jaguars took the lead again and stayed there for the rest of the match, although the Flames fought hard. Their goal attack, Renske Stoltz, the shooter of the tournament, was calm under pressure. She scored her goals from almost anywhere in the court, but her efforts were in vain.

The player of the match award went to Izette Griesel, Jaguars centre, who also tried her hand at wing attack.

She did a superb job of driving the ball into the circle, where former Protea goalshooter Chrisna van Zyl used her experience to score.

Jenny van Dyk, Jaguars coach, said her players amazed her.

“They don’t know how good they are and how good they can be,” she said.

“This has been such a battle. This is our fourth final and every time we lost, it got harder.

“The third loss was devastating and we realised we had to do things differently. This is the result. Three times a bridesmaid, and now we are officially the bride.”

The Jaguars captain, Shadine van der Merwe, played in all four finals.

This time she was determined not to leave the court without a win.

“It was a hard match, but we didn’t want it to be easy. Everyone pulled their weight and showed great big match temperament. We were strong – not only physically, but mentally as well.”

Flames coach Dorette Badenhorst said she was disappointed, but very proud of her team.

“At the start of the tournament, no one thought we would be in the final,” she said.

“Nothing went wrong in this match. They (Jaguars) were just the better team. But I am proud of the way my players supported each other and played as a team throughout the tournament. We have also finished higher than we did last year, when we came fourth.”

The Jaguars leave for New Zealand on 29 June to take part in the Super Cup – a competition featuring the top clubs from around the world.

Protea coach Norma Plummer, who watched the last two weekends of the tournament, said the league was good for netball in South Africa.

“I think the standard of play has improved, but South Africa actually needs more intensive competitions if we are to challenge the top-four teams in world netball,” she said.

Plummer said there would be a Proteas training camp in July, but she did not foresee too many changes to the current squad.

“There were not too many new faces who caught my eye, and I don’t think there will be more than four or five new names in the squad.

“I watched the Proteas closely, and some of them were a bit under par and will have to put in some hard work.”

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