The Eastern Aloes continued to impress in the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League with another emphatic victory on Sunday, beating the Mpumalanga Sunbirds by 51 to 28. Although it was a heavy defeat, the Sunbirds showed that they have been improving throughout the tournament. They stayed in the game for the full 60 minutes, and achieved some impressive turnovers.
Their biggest problem was that some of their shooters appeared to be having an off-day and were not getting the ball in the net. The Aloes led by five goals after the first quarter, and at half-time were 25-12 ahead. The Sunbirds had a good third quarter, matching the goals scored by the Aloes, but in the final quarter, the Aloes stepped up a gear and stamped their authority on the match.
Aloes Coach Ciska Kirchoff said she had known the Sunbirds would give them a run for their money, and she was very happy with the team’s performance.: ‘The Sunbirds play a different kind of netball, and it is quite difficult to prepare for them. But I think the Aloes are peaking at the right time. If we’d had it all together at the start of the tournament, we would have rested on our laurels and that would have been fatal. The reason we are doing so well is the wonderful team spirit, and the girls are really enjoying what they’re doing.’ She said she had played some of her younger squad members, and they had played their hearts out: ‘They’re definitely stars of the future, and I will be bringing them back again next week. I have been able to give all 15 squad members a run, and I am pleased with all of them.’ Sunbirds coach Jennie-Lee Delport said her major problem was her shooters, who were battling to get the ball in the net: ‘But I am proud of the way we stayed in the game, and we drew the third quarter with the Aloes. I thought Palesa Mbukwana had a very good game, both at goal defence and later at goal attack. She worked hard in both positions and was value for money. I was also very proud that although we lost the match, our Thuli Nhleko, who also played goal attack and goal defence, was named player of the match.’
Photo credit: Christiaan Kotze/SASPA