The North West Flames staged a magnificent comeback to snatch victory over the Southern Stings in their first division Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League match on Saturday. The Flames won the match 41-37, after trailing by 10 goals in the first quarter. The Stings took charge early in the match, restricting the feed into their opponents’ circle, and it was more than 10 minutes before the Flames scored their first goal.
But from the second quarter, the shell-shocked Flames began to claw their way back into the match. Flames goalshooter Sigi Burger, who had been stifled by the Stings’ defensive pair, Proteas Phumza Maweni and Rochelle Lawson, came into her own, and started to turn things around. By half-time, the goal margin had been reduced to six goals, and after the third quarter, the Stings were 32-18 ahead.
With eight minutes left in the match, the Flames finally drew level, and then passed the Stings. The match was played at a very fast pace, and both sides started throwing some wild passes which went astray. The Flames defensive pair of player of the match Zandre Kruger and goal defence Jeandre Strydom kept the Stings’ shooters in check with some brilliant intercepts.
Flames coach Dorette Badenhorst said she had some very anxious moments during the match: ‘Sigi was outplayed in the first quarter, and I think she got rattled by Phumza and Rochelle. But she has a lot of mental strength and she came back beautifully. But it was a whole team effort. We lost yesterday (Friday), to the Free State Crinums, and I told them it was time to take responsibility. It is no excuse to say we are a young team and we don’t have any Proteas. They have to play as a team and they did that brilliantly.’ Stings coach Marlene Wagner was disappointed, but said she was very proud of her players: ‘I think the team did extremely well. I’m very pleased with the way we’ve progressed in the tournament. They beat us by 10 goals in the first round, and so this is a huge improvement. Last time, we lost the match in the first round, but this time we nearly won it in the first. If I’d had fresh legs I could have put on, I would have done, but while the players on the bench are good players, they don’t have the experience to cope with a match like this.’
Photo by: Christiaan Kotze/SASPA