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Crinums leave it late before taking prestigious Premier League title
- Updated: June 10, 2015
For the second year running, the Free State Crinums snatched a win in extra time, beating the Gauteng Jaguars 61-59 to win the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League in Pretoria.
It was almost a replay of last year’s final, with the Jaguars, who led for much of the match, losing in the dying minutes of the game. The match was played at pace with both teams turning the ball on frequent occasions. Crinums goal attack Karla Mostert once again showed her extraordinary skill, creating intercepts and turnovers, while her fellow SPAR Protea, Shadine van der Merwe, did the same at the other end of the court for the Jaguars.
Crinums captain Maryka Holtzhausen was somewhat subdued, but proved as accurate as ever, while the Jaguars pair of Lenize Potgieter and Melissa Myburgh kept their cool until the last few minutes, when they both started missing their shots. And it cost them dearly as the Crinums averaged 85% of their 72 attempts outscoring the Jaguars who could only muster 74% of their 80 attempts.
The Jaguars led by three goals after the first quarter, but at halftime, the teams were level on 28-all. For much of the third quarter, goals went with the centre pass, but the Jaguars crept ahead by one goal at the end of the quarter.
Midway through the final quarter, a brilliant turnover by Van der Merwe gave the Jaguars the advantage, and they scored three quick unanswered goals. But a mistake in the Jaguars circle saw the Crinums come back and when the final whistle was blown, the two sides were level on 48-all.
The Jaguars took charge in the first period of extra time, and seemed to have the game in the bag, finishing 56-52 ahead. In the final period of extra time, goals were once again scored according to the centre pass, until the usually serene Lenize Potgieter missed a relatively easy shot. Mostert snatched the ball and the Crinums seized the moment to make their move. They caught up with the Jaguars and then the two Gauteng North shooters made a crucial error as they tried to pass the ball across the circle. Once again, the Crinums pounced and scored at the other end, and then scored again.
The cheers from the crowd, which appeared to be equally divided between Jaguars and Crinums supporters, were deafening, and the final whistle was almost an anti-climax as the Crinums jumped for joy and the Jaguars shed a few tears.
‘We never stopped believing in ourselves,’ said Crinums coach Burta de Kock. ‘Our slogan for this tournament has been ‘Grit and Passion’, and we showed that today.
‘It was a real team effort, and they showed superb big match temperament. They just never gave up,’ she said.
Jaguars coach Jenny van Dyk said she was deeply disappointed, but very proud of her players. ‘They played their hearts out, and I know we will do it one day. Some of them are very young – Lenize is only 20 years old, and she’s up against someone as experienced as Adele Niemand,’ she said. ‘The Crinums won fair and square. It was our own mistakes that cost us the match. Maryka was on fire today, and she is such a good leader, so she made things difficult for us. We will go back and refocus, and we won’t make the same mistakes again,’ said Van Dyk.
Meanwhile, the Kingdom Stars brought the Eastern Aloes’ unbeaten run to a sudden halt just when it counted most – in the final of the second division.
The Stars, who were beaten by the Aloes in both their league matches, turned the tables to beat the Eastern Cape team 38-35, after trailing for much of the match.
The team from KwaZulu-Natal started off slowly, and took 10 minutes to score their first goal. The Aloes were 11-6 ahead at the end of the first quarter. Both sides scored nine goals in the second to take the halftime score to 20-15. Two minutes before the end of the third quarter, the Stars drew level, and then passed the Aloes, ending the quarter one goal ahead.
But it was in the final quarter that the Stars really shone, while the Aloes appeared to fall apart. The Stars played at pace and the Aloes appeared to be stuck in mud, searching desperately for someone to pass to. The Aloes battled to get the ball into their circle, and when they did, the Stars defenders, Fezeka Gambushe and Michelle Segal kept intercepting and turning the ball. It was eight minutes into the final quarter before the Aloes managed to score again, while the Stars had added eight to their tally.
SPAR Protea Bongi Msomi, playing wing attack, was inspirational, and drove the ball into her circle, and the shooters kept their heads. The Aloes, on the other hand, panicked and lost the control they had shown in all their previous matches.
‘It was composure under pressure,’ said a delighted Stars coach Marchelle Maroun. ‘I was a bit worried at the start, when we took so long to score, but we know that we can come back when we’re behind – that has been one of our strengths,’ she said. ‘I’m very happy – I knew we had it in us to win.’
On the other end Aloes players were reduced to tears, having beaten every team in the division in both the first and second legs.
‘I’m very disappointed, but we didn’t play well in the last quarter,’ said Aloes coach Ciska Kirchoff. ‘We lost our cool and started panicking, and then we made mistakes. I think the girls put a lot of pressure on themselves. They thought they had the game won, and when they fell behind, they couldn’t cope.’
Kirchoff was, however, philosophical. ‘That’s what sport is all about,’ she said. ‘Now we go home, pick ourselves up and start preparing for next year. We won’t make the same mistakes again.’
Picture of the victorious Crinums team, courtesy of Christiaan Kotze/SASPA