From bridesmaid to bride

Vanes-Mari du Toit of the Stings is challenged by Zanele Vimbela of the Fireballs during the 2017 Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League 3rd and 4th match playoff. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

 

After finishing as runners-up three times in a row, things finally came together for the Jaguars this year and they are finally the bride.

They were crowned champions of the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League (BFNPL) after beating the North West Flames 49–43 in a thrilling final of this year’s netball season at the Mangaung Indoor Stadium.

It was a ding-dong battle, with play moving from end to end at a rapid rate. The Jaguars took the early lead, but in the second quarter, the Flames caught up and then passed them.

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They had a three-goal lead before the Jaguars struck back and drew level at 14–14. The Jaguars took the lead again, and stayed there for the rest of the match, although the Flames fought hard.

Flames goal attacker, Renske Stoltz, the shooter of the tournament, was calm under pressure, and scored her goals from almost anywhere on the court, but her efforts were in vain.

Player of the match was Izette Griesel of the Jaguars, who played at centre and also at wing attack at one stage. She did a superb job of driving the ball into the circle, where former Proteas goal shooter Chrisna van Zyl used her experience to good effect.

Jaguars coach Jenny van Dyk said her players amazed her. “They don’t know how good they are and how good they can be,” she said.

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“This has been such a battle. This is our fourth final, and each time we lost, it got harder. The third loss was devastating and we realised we had to do things differently. And this is the result. Three times a bridesmaid, and now we are officially the bride.”

Jaguars captain Shadine van der Merwe, who has played in all four finals, said she had been determined not to leave the court without a win.

“It was a hard match, but we didn’t want it to be easy,” she said. “Everyone pulled their weight and showed great big match temperament. We were strong, not only physically, but mentally as well.”

Flames coach Dorette Badenhorst said she was disappointed but very proud of her team. “At the start of the tournament, no one thought we would be in the final,” she said.

“Nothing went wrong in this match – they were just the better team. But I am proud of the way my players supported each other and played as a team throughout the tournament. We have also finished higher than we did last year when we came in fourth place.”

The Jaguars leave for New Zealand on the 29 June to take part in the Super Cup, a competition featuring top clubs from around the world.

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Proteas coach, Norma Plummer, who watched the last two weekends of the tournament, said it was good for netball in South Africa.

“I think the standard of play has improved, but South Africa actually need more intensive competitions like this if they are to challenge the top four teams in world netball,” she said.

“There were not too many new faces who caught my eye, and I don’t think there will be more than four or five new names in the squad. I watched the Proteas closely, and some of them were a bit under par, and will have to put in some hard work.”

BFNPL week 8 results:

BFNPL 3rd and 4th playoffs

  • Gauteng Fireballs 55–45 Southern Stings.

BFNPL final

  • Gauteng Jaguars 49–43 North West Flames

BFNPL individual award winners

Best defender – Shadine van der Merwe (GP Jaguars) – R10 000

Best centre – Rome Dreyer (NW Flames) – R10 000

Best shooter – Renske Stoltz (NW Flames) – R10 000

Best player – Phumza Maweni (Southern Stings) – R20 000

  AUTHOR
Sipho Siso

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