The Eastern Aloes gave notice of their intention to regain their position in the top division when they thumped the Northern Cape Diamonds 67-31 in their second division Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League match at the University of Pretoria Sports Centre on Saturday. The Aloes started off rather uncertainly, and at the end of the first quarter, the Diamonds were leading 10-9. But the Eastern Cape team stepped up a gear after that.
They went into the lead, and maintained it for the rest of the match, steadily pulling away from their opponents. By half-time, they had a narrow 25-18 lead, but in the third quarter they raced away, outscoring the Diamonds by 16 goals to seven, and in the final quarter, they scored 26 goals to six. Aloes coach Ciska Kirchoff says: ‘I’m very happy with the way things went. We made a lot of mistakes, particularly in the first quarter. I think the players were very nervous, and we were trailing by a goal at the end of that quarter. But then they found their rhythm and stepped on the gas. I was able to make a number of changes, and bring my bench on to play, because by half-time we were fully in control of the match. I’m lucky that I have a very strong bench, and I may even start with the bench players in our next match, and see how they go.’
Diamonds coach Elsje Van Der Merwe was disappointed after her team’s second successive defeat: ‘I always knew this was going to be a very tough weekend, because we were playing the team that finished second in the division last year, and then today we played the team that had been in the first division. We started well today, but then the wheels came off. The Aloes started playing better and they blocked us so that we couldn’t play according to our plans. But we will learn from our defeats, and I am looking forward to next weekend, when hopefully we can turn things around.’ The Diamonds will not be in action again until next week, but the Aloes play the Mpumalanga Sunbirds in the first match on Sunday.