The table-topping Jaguars lost their first match when the Southern Stings beat them 47-45 in a hard-fought Brutal Fruit Premier Netball League match at the Pretoria University Sports Centre on Friday night. Both sides were missing players who were doing national duty at the European championships in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Jaguars were without five players, and the Stings without three.
The Stings led throughout the match, although they were never able to get away from the young Jaguars. They were 12-9 ahead after the first quarter, and 25-21 ahead at half-time. The Jaguars came back hard in the third quarter, scoring 12 goals to the 10 scored by the Western Cape team.
The partisan crowd got right behind the Jaguars, cheering every turnover and every goal. With six minutes left in the match, the Jaguars went into the lead and for a short time, the two teams exchanged goal for goal, but the Stings came back strongly in the dying moments to claim victory. Coach Marlene Wagner said she was over the moon at beating the form team in the competition: ‘I thought it was a brilliant game of netball, and I was very proud of both teams for the way they played. I think we were lucky in that our two shooters and our two goal defenders are used to playing together, so we had settled combinations that had total confidence in each other. The whole team gelled together very well. They really wanted to win this game, and they all put their minds to it. I was a bit worried in the last quarter, when we lost three goals in a row, but they refocused and they did the job.’
Jaguars coach Jenny Van Dyk was disappointed in the result, but was pleased with the way her young players had performed, saying: ‘I was proud of the way they stayed in the game throughout. I even thought, for a while, that we were going to make it, but we made some rookie mistakes, and that cost us the match. I introduced (Protea) Lindie Lombard as goalshooter in the final quarter – she is coming back from injury and I can only play her one quarter at a time – and I think the young players didn’t have enough confidence in her. So while I am disappointed, I think my young players will do better in the next match. I think they will be more confident. They are going to have to do well, because we are playing the Flames, who haven’t lost any players, and it will be a tough match.’ The Stings’ next match is against defending champions the Free State Crinums. Both matches will be played on Saturday.
Photo by: Christiaan Kotze/SASPA