PRETORIA (25 April 2016) – When it came to handing the Western Cape Southern Stings their first defeat of this season’s Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League on Sunday, North West Flames coach Dorette Badenhorst did the one thing her opponents perhaps didn’t expect.
Michael Vlismas – “Instead of targeting their weaknesses, I focused on their strengths and how we could counter these,” says Badenhorst after a big weekend of action at the Heartfelt Arena in Pretoria.
The Flames beat the Stings 44-36 in the third round’s feature match on Sunday.
“So it wasn’t really a question of trying to figure out their weak points. I went into the game with the strategy that we would identify their strengths and then do as much as we could to give them as little opportunity as possible to use them.”
One of Badenhorst’s strategies was to keep the game tight and instil patience in her players.
“We couldn’t play the long ball because the Stings are just too good on the intercept. So we kept to the short passes, and a lot of passes. We didn’t try and force the ball into the circle.”
It was certainly the biggest test the Flames have faced thus far in the season, and Badenhorst is pleased with how her players responded.
“It was a good day for us. The Stings are a very strong team and you can never underestimate them. But I’m proud of my team. Under the circumstances and considering who they played against, I think my players did well. Especially when you look at the pressure on our defence. There are still a few mistakes we need to work on. But every game the young players in our team are gaining in experience. I mean, somebody like goal shooter Sigrid Burger going up against Proteas defender Adele Niemand, that’s not at all easy.”
The third round began with the defending champions, the Free State Crinums, claiming their first victory when they beat the Golden Fireballs 47-39.
After a winless first two rounds, Crinums coach Burta de Kock was pleased to finally get her team off the mark this season.
“I am very pleased with them. There were more good moments than bad. This isn’t the same team that won the title last year. We have a lot of youngsters, but we have excellent leadership from Maryke Holtzhausen and Lauren-Lee Christians, and what really pleased me was they stuck to the gameplan throughout.”
And on Saturday the Kingdom Stars also got their campaign back on track after a bit of a stutter last weekend, beating the Mpumalanga Sunbirds 59-29.
“I’m a lot happier than I was a week ago,” said Stars coach Marchelle Maroun. “I did a lot of work with the shooters during the week and that paid off. But we are still a work in progress and there’s a lot of work to do.”
Results (Heartfelt Arena, Pretoria):
Crinums 47 Fireballs 39
Jaguars 61 Aloes 33
Kingdom Stars 58 Sunbirds 29
Crinums 69 Baobabs 21
Fireballs 59 Diamonds 31
Diamonds 50 Sunbirds 49
Flames 44 Southern Stings 36