Prized places in next weekend’s semifinals of the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League were the reward for the Western Cape Southern Stings and the Free State Crinums, after resounding quarterfinal victories at the Olive Convention Centre in Durban on Saturday.
First up were the Stings, who took on the KZN Kingdom Stars along with a sold-out home crowd. But the passionate crowd could do nothing to stop the phenomenal shooting of eventual player of the match Charmaine Baard and the rest of her fired-up Stings side, who took the match 44-23.
It was a close encounter at the start with the Stings initially surging to a 5-1 lead before the home team fought their way back and reached the first break just one goal behind on 9-8. The second quarter was similarly tight with the Stings managing to build a slightly more comfortable cushion by the next break at 19-4.
But a third-quarter collapse, largely due to some questionable substitutions saw the KZN team played out of contention. They managed just two goals during the 15-minute period while the Stings continued to shoot from just about anywhere in the circle for 16 goals in the quarter.
That set up the near-impossible task of catching up a 19-goal deficit in the final quarter – one that proved impossible despite their improved performance.
The other quarterfinal of the day also went according to round-robin form with the Free State Crinums claiming a 50-32 victory over the Gauteng Golden Fireballs.
While the first few minutes saw the lead changing hands several times, the Gauteng side soon lost touch with the Free Staters who had opened a seven-goal gap by the first break and then simply extended it as the game went on.
While it remained an entertaining contest, the defending champion Crinums seemed to be one step ahead of their opposition throughout with superior speed, passing and accuracy. Goal defence Karla Mostert’s outstanding performance earned her the Player of the Match accolade.
Meanwhile, in the playoffs for the bottom four places on Saturday, the Eastern Cape Aloes stayed on course to take seventh spot with a 49-34 victory over the Mpumalanga Sunbirds.
The Aloes raced to a 13-8 lead in the first quarter but then lost the second quarter to reach the half time break just 20-16 ahead. A few strategic substitutions did the trick for them in the second half of the match, however, to be able to pull away and secure the win.
In the final seventh to 10th place playoff game of the night, the Northern Cape Diamonds beat the Limpopo Baobabs 46-35.
Results (Olive Convention Centre , Durban)
Mpumalanga Sunbirds48 vs Limpopo Baobabs 29
Eastern Cape Aloes 49 vs Northern Cape Diamonds 29
Western Cape Southern Stings 44 vs Kingdom Stars 23
Mpumalanga Sunbirds 34 vs Eastern Cape Aloes 49
Free State Crinums 50 vs Gauteng Golden Fireball 32
Northern Cape Diamonds 46 vs Limpopo Baobabs 35