The Free State Crinums came back from a seven goal deficit at halftime to win their Brutal Fruit Netball Cup match against the Eastern Cape Aloes by a resounding 43 goals to 28 at the University of Pretoria Sports Centre on Saturday. The Aloes, who have yet to win a match, started off with a bang and took the early lead. By halftime, they were seven goals ahead, leading 19-12.
Their attack pairing of Dumisani Chauke and Zandile Njeza were working well together, and the Eastern Cape team appeared to be heading for an upset. However, things changed when Chauke had to leave the court with a knee injury. She was replaced by Eileen Van Zyl.
The Crinums started to claw their way back into the match, and in the final minute of the third quarter, they drew level on 24 all. Two more unanswered goals and they finished the quarter two goals ahead. The Free State team showed why, in their provincial form, they are the Spar national champions, as they took control of the match.
Protea Maryka Holtzhausen at goal attack and goalshooter Samari Els were imperious in the circle, scoring goal after goal, seemingly at will. Coach Burta De Kock said afterwards that she had not been worried about the seven-goal deficit at halftime, “They know what they have to do, and I knew that if they could keep their unity and stick to their plans, they would come back. They were a little careless in the circle in the first half, but in the second half, they were more focused and more of their shots at goal went in.” Aloes Protea Zanele Mdodana had another outstanding game, and was named player of the match in spite of being on the losing side.
Also on the night, the Diamonds continued their winning ways when they beat the Mpumalanga Sunbirds 59-29 in a one-sided match. It was the second consecutive victory for the Northern Cape team, who lost to the Kingdom Stars in the opening match last weekend, and followed that up with an emphatic victory over the Limpopo Baobabs last Sunday. The Diamonds were dominant throughout the match, as they outplayed the Sunbirds, who have yet to win a match.
Claudia Booysen (formerly Basson), a former member of the Spar Proteas, was on song, scoring her team’s first 44 goals. The Sunbirds played their hearts out, but were just not able to cope with the pace set by the Diamonds. Their shooters, Angel Mbatha and Marlie Nel struggled against the Diamonds goalkeeper, player of the match Antonina Aparicio and goal defence Simone Sell, and managed only six or seven goals per quarter.
The Diamonds have a tough match first thing on Sunday when they take on the unbeaten Southern Stings. The Sunbirds, having played two matches on Saturday, have Sunday off and will have time to regroup and prepare for their match against the Stings in the opening match of the third weekend of netball.