The defending champions, the Free State Crinums, reached the final of the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League with a decisive 45-33 victory over the North West Flames on Saturday. The Crinums will play the Gauteng Jaguars on Sunday in a replay of the 2014 final, which the Crinums won in extra time. The Crinums were in control throughout the match and were two goals ahead after the first quarter, and at half-time, were 21-12 ahead.
They outscored the Flames in the third quarter, but in the final quarter, both teams scored 12 goals. Despite the disparity in scores, the match was by no means a walkover for the champions. The Flames fought hard, and their defenders achieved a number of intercepts.
The match was played at pace, and the Flames gave the Crinums very little room to pass the ball, often forcing the Crinums to move backwards. Player of the match Karla Mostert, a regular member of the Proteas, was key. Crinums coach Burta De Kock says: ‘We knew it was now or never – we couldn’t afford to relax for a minute. The players were very focused and I am happy with the unity in defence and attack. I didn’t make any changes, because the whole team was playing well.’
Flames boss Dorette Badenhorst says: ‘My moving circle didn’t work, and we battled to get the ball into the circle. Some of my youngsters were a bit over-awed by playing in the semi-final, and this is where experience counts. But I am proud of the team – we finished one up from last year, and they can hold their heads high.’ Badenhorst said several of her players had come to the end of their studies, so she might have to blood new players next year. She said: ‘Hopefully, some of them will stay on to do honours, and we can build a new team around them.’