Defending champions the Free State Crinums had to fight hard to beat the Southern Stings 43-38 in their Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League match at the Pretoria University Sports Centre on Saturday afternoon. Both sides had to work hard for every goal, and it took more than three minutes before the first goal was scored. The Crinums won the first quarter, 12-9, and pulled away in the second to lead 24-19 at half-time.
That lead was worth the victory, because the Stings kept pace with the champions in the second half, with both teams scoring seven goals in the third quarter and 12 in the fourth. The match was played at frenetic pace, and the defenders in both circles were able to achieve a number of turnovers and capitalise on rebounds. The Crinums and the Stings were both without three of their star players, who are playing for South Africa in the European netball championships in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
The Crinums were without their charismatic captain and goal attack, Maryka Holtzhausen, centre Lauren-Lee Christians and defender Adele Niemand, while the Stings had to make do without shooter Mari-Lena Joubert, and defenders Rochelle Lawson and Phumza Maweni. Stings coach Marlene Wagner said the absence of the stars had not been a major factor for her team: ‘My young players did very well against a very experienced team. We were playing against a settled side, who won this tournament last year, and are used to pressure. Also, the Crinums are all from the Free State University team, and they train together all the time, whereas our players come from the Western Cape and Boland and don’t have as much time together. They have also just moved up into the first division, so on the whole I was very pleased with the way the Stings played. I think they may have been a little over-anxious, and they did not always convert the opportunities that came their way.’