The Northern Cape Diamonds won a hard fought match against the Mpumalanga Sunbirds at the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League on Friday night, beating them by 48 goals to 45. It was sweet revenge for the Diamonds, who lost to the Sunbirds in the first round, but they were made to work hard for their victory. They had a slender one-goal lead after the first quarter, but managed to pull ahead in the second quarter, to lead 21-17 at half-time.
The Diamonds dominated the third quarter, but the Sunbirds came storming back in the final quarter, outscoring the Diamonds by 14 goals to 12. With minutes left, they came within one goal of the Cape side, but the Diamonds hung on for victory. The crowd got behind the Sunbirds, and cheered every goal they scored.
Diamonds captain, goal attack Claudia Booysen, was back to the form that made her a regular in the Proteas team, and goalshooter Ninelle Jordaan also had a good game. Diamonds coach Elsje Van Der Merwe was very happy with her team, saying: We worked hard this week, and I think we were really hungry for that win. The team believed they were a better team and should not have lost last time, so they wanted to show everyone what they could do. I was a bit worried in the final quarter, because the Sunbirds came from behind to beat us last time, but we definitely had the better of them in the second quarter. My centre, Clarissa Mpikwane, had an excellent game, and Claudia had a calming influence on the team when things started getting out of hand.’ Sunbirds coach Jeni-Lee Delport says: ‘Even if we finish last on the log, we can hold our heads up high. I thought the girls played brilliantly, and I’m very proud of them. I made six changes during the match, and I moved Palesa (Mbukwana) from goalkeeper to goalshooter to goal attack, and she did fabulously wherever I sent her. I am so happy that she was player of the match for the second time. The team is so much better than they were last year. I told them I wanted them to play 2015 netball and not 2014, and they did. I’m a very happy coach.’
Photo by: Christiaan Kotze/SASPA