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Johannesburg, South Africa – Defending champions Tshwane got their campaign off to an ideal start at the SPAR national netball champions at the University of Johannesburg netball courts on Monday, winning both their games comfortably.

They beat Buffalo City 60-29 (24-15) in their first game, and followed this with a crushing 73-34 win over Ethekwini.  They had a lead of 33-19 at halftime. They won the third quarter 15-11, but in the final quarter they stepped up the pressure, outscoring the KwaNatal team by 25 goals to four.

Tshwane were rocked by the news that their dynamic coach, Jenny van Dyk, had to undergo surgery, but stand-in coach Sone Mokken said the team was well prepared and had followed the guidelines set out by Van Dyk.

“We had two fairly easy matches today and I was able to play all the players, including those on the bench,” said Mokken.

“I was very pleased with the way they stuck to the game plans.

“We have some tough games to come.  We play Mangaung tomorrow and Dr Kenneth Kaunda (North West) on Wednesday.  I have told them to play fast, energy netball and to stay calm.  We’ll be playing for Jenny.”

Mangaung, who were runners up in 2018, also started well, winning both their matches.  They thrashed Ethekwini 63-35 (32-21) and beat Johannesburg 51-47 (29-23) The match against Johannesburg was closer than expected, with the Johannesburg team winning the final quarter by 16 goals to 8, but coach Burta de Kock said she had expected a tough match.

“I know the players and I had prepared for them, so while I knew it was not going to be easy, I was confident that we would win,” said De Kock.

“I was happy with the way they played.  Most of my players are very young –the majority of them are Under 21 so they are still get used to playing at this level.”

The other two teams in strong contention for top honours, Cape Town and Dr Kenneth Kaunda also won both their opening matches.

Cape Town beat Ekurhuleni 49-27, after leading 23-13 at halftime, and then beat Buffalo City 54-26 (23-13).

Dr Kenneth Kaunda beat Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB) 61-27 (35-9) and Ekurhuleni 46-18 (25-9).

While coach Elsje Jordaan was happy with the result, she thought her team could have done better.

“But I am happy that I was able to play the whole squad.  In a tournament like this, it is important to manage energy and the players’ bodies.  This is the first day, and there is a long way to go.”

The final A-section match of the day, between NMB and Johannesburg, was a ding-dong affair.  Johannesburg won the first quarter 8-6, but NMB won the second 16-11, to lead 22-19 at halftime.  

NMB won the third 14-10 and Johannesburg the final quarter 7-6.  NMB won the match 42-36.