PRETORIA (18 April 2016) – The Western Cape Southern Stings retained their position at the top of the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League and must now be favourites for the title after two big wins in Round 2 this weekend.
Michael Vlismas – The Stings beat the KwaZulu-Natal Kingdom Stars 35-31 at the Heartfelt Arena in Pretoria on Saturday and then claimed a tough 56-50 win over last year’s losing finalists the Gauteng Jaguars on Sunday.
Coach Annelie Lucas’s team is now unbeaten this season while the Stars and Jaguars have a lot to consider, as well as the defending champions the Free State Crinums who have yet to win a match.
For Lucas, the most pleasing aspect of this past weekend was the ability of her players to be creative against the gameplans of their opponents.
“It’s quite interesting this season in the sense that all of the coaches in the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League were at Norma Plummer’s coaching clinics and it’s been interesting to see that many of the teams use a lot of the same strategies that she proposed,” Lucas said of the recent clinics hosted by the legendary Australian netball coach.
“So as a coach it’s all about how you go into a match and how you prepare your own players, because you have a good idea of what the other coaches are going to be doing. It also means your own players need to think outside the box a little bit.
“We knew anything could happen this weekend and we prepared our players well, and they really worked hard for these games.”
But Lucas is cautious not to get too excited about their title prospects at this point in the competition.
“I’m a happy coach. This obviously gives us the motivation, but we do not want to get ahead of ourselves. We have to take it one match at a time. I have seen a lot of improvement. They are not at the level I expect them to be and I even told them that they are playing averagely and they haven’t started playing real netball yet. You will still see more action from us. This is only the beginning.”
Gauteng Jaguars coach Jenny van Dyk believes this weekend was a serious wake-up call for her team.
“It just didn’t go our way this time. But this gives us time now to go back to the drawing board and work on the small things we missed. This was a wake-up call for us. Maybe it also says that we need to move out of our comfort zone.”
The North West Flames and the Gauteng Golden Fireballs also enjoyed a winning weekend.
The Flames beat the Mpumalanga Sunbirds 66-28 on Friday and then the Crinums 55-44 on Saturday.
The Fireballs had only one match this weekend and they came through it with a 45-35 victory over the Stars.
“We have no big names in the team and the girls are a bit inexperienced so this was a big win for us. We played as a team and I think that won it for us,” Fireballs coach Elsje Jordaan said of their win over the Stars.
Results (Heartfelt Arena, Pretoria):
Flames 66 Sunbirds 28
Fireballs 45 Kingdom Stars 35
Southern Stings 35 Kingdom Stars 31
Aloes 50 Sunbirds 29
Jaguars 65 Diamonds 34
Flames 55 Crinums 44
Diamonds 46 Baobabs 38
Southern Stings 56 Jaguars 50