The Gauteng North Jaguars became the first team to secure themselves a place in the semi-finals of the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League (BFNPL) at the weekend, with a splendid win over the Gauteng Golden Fireballs.


The Jaguars won the Gauteng derby 56-49 in the Mangaung Indoor Complex in Bloemfontein to book their fourth consecutive semi-final spot in the league. The top two teams on the log guarantee themselves an automatic place in the semi’s, while the Fireballs will have to play a quarter-final next week, either against the Eastern Cape Aloes or Limpopo Baobabs.

It was a brutal encounter and the players didn’t leave anything out on court, climbing, jumping and diving for every ball. The match was played at an enormous pace.

The Jaguars led for much of the game, although never by more than four goals, but the Fireballs managed to take the lead for a brief while deep into the third quarter. The quarter scores were 16-13, 29-28 and 42-40 for the Jaguars.

The winning team seemed to switch to another gear in the fourth quarter and converted most of their opportunities. Ine-Marí Venter, goal shooter and player of the match, stepped up immensely after a slow start in the match. The timing of her jumps for the ball was mostly spot on. Protea Izette Lubbe, initially wing attack and later centre, also had a very good game for the Jaguars, after having something of a quiet campaign to this point.

She combined very well with Venter, where the Fireballs drivers, center Nadia Uys Pienaar, wing attack Ané Botha, and goal attack Lindie Lombard initially did a great job in support of their tall goal shooter Deancke Rohde, who converted most of her chances before the Jaguars defenders started to counter her with effect.

Elsjé Jordaan, coach of the Fireballs, bravely took Botha off and brought  Talja Venter on goal attack, moving Lombard to wing attack. With that they had the luxury of a shooter who could shoot from far, but she also missed a number of crucial attempts.

The referees had their hands full. Jaguars Shadine van der Merwe and mid-court player Tshina Mdau both received official warnings for persistent contact before halftime.

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