The second round of the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League, held over the past weekend, left the Jaguars with heavy hearts as they lost both of their games. After their winning performance last weekend, the Jaguars stepped onto court on Friday night against the Southern Stings with a completely new lineup.
Having lost five of their players to the Protea team who left for Ireland to compete in the European championship, pressure was placed on the shoulders of the younger squad. The Southern Stings, who were also missing three of their players due to the tournament in Ireland, showed no mercy for the weakened Jaguars as they held on to their lead in the first three quarters of the game.
The Jaguars did not leave the court without a fight and got the crowd to their feet as they gained a slight lead with six minutes remaining in the final quarter. This was short-lived, however, as the Stings grabbed a 47-45 victory in the dying moments of the game.
The defeat left the Jaguars slightly shaken as they stepped back onto the court on Saturday night to face the North West Flames, who had been undefeated so far in the Premier League.
At half time, with a greater goal percentage and turnover statistic than the Jaguars, the Flames established a lead of 28-17. Despite an attempt to break through a line of solid defence by changing players on the court every quarter, the Jaguars fell further behind and gave many balls away with three-second calls. The final whistle blew with a 36-55 defeat for the Jaguars.
Jaguars coach Jenny van Dyk said she was disappointed by the results but had not lost hope in her younger squad, adding, “The only way you learn to cope with pressure is to be put under pressure. With experience, these players will rise and become the influential players of the future.”
With the return of the Protea players in the Premier League rounds to follow, van Dyk anticipates an exciting comeback, saying, “There is always hope. The Jaguars will make a comeback and will make it to the playoffs and finals. This team might have [fewer] brilliant moments, but they have a culture of hard work and dedication. They will fight back and they will never give up, that I know.”
The Jaguars, who represent Gauteng with 15 UP students, will once again face the Southern Stings and Golden Fireballs in the third round of the league this weekend.