Four teams went unbeaten in the opening week of the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League, with defending champions the Gauteng Jaguars and three-time winners the Free State Crinums getting their campaigns off to positive starts at Ellis Park Indoor Arena.
They joined the Gauteng Golden Fireballs and the KZN Kingdom Stars in securing two victories each as the six-week series got under way.
Aiming to reclaim the crown they lost last year, the Crinums romped to a 46-25 victory over the Mpumalanga Sunbirds on Friday night.
After being pushed onto the back foot in their second fixture on Saturday, the Crinums fought back from 15-12 at the end of the first quarter to earn a 68-46 win over the Limpopo Baobabs.
Despite losing some top players including Proteas captain Bongi Msomi and veteran centre court player Precious Mthembu, the Kingdom Stars also produced a dominant double performance, first taking a 59-34 win over last season’s bottom feeders the Northern Cape Diamonds on Friday evening, and then bagging a 54-30 triumph over the Eastern Cape Aloes the following day.
Title holders the Jaguars, meanwhile, opened their account with a commanding 81-12 thumping of the Diamonds on Saturday.
Finding themselves in a spot of bother in their second fixture on Sunday, the Gauteng side were 26-25 behind the Western Cape Southern Stings at half-time but clawed their way ahead and managed to open a gap, earning a 51-43 win.
“We are very confident of defending the title,” said Jaguars coach Jenny van Dyk.
“We wouldn’t just come here to take a second or third place. We want to win this and that’s what we’re working towards.”
The other Gauteng team in the league, the Fireballs, beat the Mpumalanga Sunbirds 44-25, and they racked up another convincing victory on Saturday with a 53-28 triumph over the Aloes.
“Some of the quarters we really played well in both of our games but we struggled with certain combinations and we still need to keep possession,” said Fireballs coach Dorette Badenhorst.
“We are turning a lot of balls so I’m happy on defence but there are a few things we still need to change.”
The Southern Stings and last year’s finalists the North West Flames were the only other teams to pick up points in the opening week.
After being handed a 53-37 defeat to the Stings on Saturday, the Flames hit back to beat the Baobabs 61-39 on Sunday.
Results, Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League (Week One)
Kingdom Stars 59-34 Diamonds
Crinums 46-25 Sunbirds
Kingdom Stars 54-30 Aloes
Jaguars 81-12 Diamonds
Crinums 68-46 Baobabs
Stings 53-37 Flames
Fireballs 44-25 Sunbirds
Fireballs 53-28 Aloes
Jaguars 51-43 Southern Stings
Flames 61-39 Baobabs