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Bellville, Cape Town, South Africa: The two strongest teams at the SPAR National Netball Championships at Hoërskool DF Malan – Cape Winelands and Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB) both won their semifinals on Friday to go through to Saturday’s final.

Cape Winelands came from behind to beat Johannesburg 60-56 in the first semifinal.

What had been expected to be an easy victory for the only team to go through the pool stages unbeaten turned into a thriller, with the outcome uncertain until the final whistle.

Johannesburg stormed into the lead from the start and maintained their position for the first three quarters of the match. With nothing to lose, the team from Gauteng gave it their all. Captain Jo Prins, playing at wing attack, had an outstanding game, ensuring that the ball reached the shooting circle where goalshooter Nomfundo Mngomezulu and goal attack Liza Kruger, wasted few opportunities.

Johannesburg led 17-12 after the first quarter and were 31-29 ahead at half time.

But Winelands started reeling them in from fairly early on.  Although Johannesburg were seven goals ahead at one stage in the third quarter, the Winelands team continued to fight back. After trailing 43-45 after the third quarter, they went into the lead two minutes into the final quarter and that was when the fight appeared to go out of their opponents. Winelands won the final quarter by 17 goals to 11.

“It was the very best preparation for the final tomorrow,” said an exhilarated Winelands coach, Marchelle Maroun.

“I had some very nervous moments, but I was sure that they would pull through.  Before the final quarter, I said to the players ‘just two intercepts and we’re there.”

“They are all quite experienced and they know how to play finals,” said Maroun.

Winelands captain Nichole Taljaard said the players had supported each other through the good and bad phases of the match.

“It was very much a team effort.”

Johannesburg goal defence Boitumelo Mahloko said Johannesburg were heartbroken by the loss.

“I was watching the time and watching the goals and just praying that we could hang on.  “But we were playing a very experienced team and I think it was their experience that cost us the game in the end.”

There was no surprise in the match between NMB and Cape Town, which NMB won 47-35. Although the teams were level on 8-all after the first quarter, NMB were the dominant side. They led 20-15 at halftime.  Cape Town made a spirited comeback in the third quarter, winning it by 13 goals to 11, (31-28) but NMB stepped up a gear in the final quarter to ensure a relatively comfortable win.

“We didn’t play as well as we could have, because the players were very nervous,” said NMB coach Lana Krige.

“But they came through and that is a page they can put in their back pocket for the future.

“It was a much tougher match than the pool game (which NMB won 47-35).”

Krige said that before the final on Saturday morning, she would tell her players that it was still netball.

“We still need to catch; we still need to pass and we still need to run. I will tell them to forget that it is a final and just focus on the game in hand and what we can control,” said Krige.

A team from the Eastern Cape last won the title in 2007, while Western Cape were the 2016 champions.  Since then Gauteng North have been dominant, winning every year.  Tshwane, Mangaung and Dr Kenneth Kaunda all pulled out of the championships: Tshwane because members of the team contracted Covid-19 and Mangaung and Dr Kenneth Kaunda because senior players were writing university examinations.

Finals will be LIVE on SuperSport Variety 4 Channel 209 (SuperSport Variety 4/Select 2 in Africa).


DAY 5: Results
Senior A – Semi-finals
Cape Winelands 60 – Johannesburg 56
Nelson Mandela Bay 47 – Cape Town 35

U21 A
DR KK 61 – Ethekwini 31
Tshwane 60 – Johannesburg 53