Free State Crinums Win Netball Premier League

For the second year running, the Free State Crinums snatched a win in extra time, beating the Gauteng Jaguars by 61 goals to 59 to win the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League on Saturday afternoon.  It was almost a replay of last year’s final, with the Jaguars, who led for much of the match, losing in the dying minutes of the game.  The match was played at pace with both teams turning the ball on frequent occasions.

Crinums goal attack Karla Mostert once again showed her extraordinary skill, creating intercepts and turnovers, while her fellow Protea, Shadine Van Der Merwe, did the same at the other end of the court for the Jaguars.  Crinums captain Maryka Holtzhausen was somewhat subdued, but proved as accurate as ever, while the Jaguars pair of Lenize Potgieter and Melissa Myburgh kept their cool until the last few minutes, when they both started missing their shots.  And it cost them dearly as the Crinums averaged 85% of their 72 attempts outscoring the Jaguars who could only muster 74% of their 80 attempts.

The Jaguars led by three goals after the first quarter, but at half-time, the teams were leel on 28-all.  For much of the third quarter, goals went with the centre pass, but the Jaguars crept ahead by one goal at the end of the quarter.  Midway through the final quarter, a brilliant turnover by Van Der Merwe gave the Jaguars the advantage, and they scored three quick unanswered goals.

But a mistake in the Jaguars circle saw the Crinums come back and when the final whistle was blown, the two sides were level on 48-all.  The Jaguars took charge in the first period of extra time, and seemed to have the game in the bag, finishing 56-52 ahead.  In the final period of extra time,  goals were once again scored according to the centre pass, until the usually serene Lenize Potgieter missed a relatively easy shot.

Mostert snatched the ball and the Crinums seized the moment to make their move.  They caught up with the Jaguars and then the two Gauteng North shooters made a crucial error as they tried to pass the ball across the circle.  Once again, the Crinums pounced and scored at the other end, and then scored again.

The cheers from the crowd, which appeared to be equally divided between Jaguars and Crinums supporters, were deafening, and the final whistle was almost an anti-climax as the Crinums jumped for joy and the Jaguars shed a few tears.  Crinums coach Burta De Kock says:  ‘We never stopped believing in ourselves.  Our slogan for this tournament has been ‘Grit and Passion’, and we showed that today.  It was a real team effort, and they showed superb big match temperament.  The just never gave up.’  Jaguars coach Jenny Van Dyk said she was deeply disappointed, but very proud of her players:  ‘They played their hearts out, and I know we will do it one day.  Some of them are very young – Lenize is only 20 years old, and she’s up against someone as experienced as Adele Niemand.  The Crinums won fair and square.  It was our own mistakes that cost us the match.  Maryka was on fire today, and she is such a good leader, so she made things difficult for us.  We will go back and refocus, and we won’t make the same mistakes again.’

Photo by: Christiaan Kotze/SASPA