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The young Dr Kenneth Kaunda team caused an upset on Wednesday when they beat defending champions Tshwane 38-34 in their round robin match at the SPAR National Netball Championships at the Zwartkloof Private Game Reserve in Bela Bela.

Dr Elsje Jordaan’s team, which includes six under-21 players, went into the lead from the start and were 12-8 ahead after the first quarter. They extended their lead to five goals by halftime (20-15) but Tshwane fought back hard and won the third quarter 11-18, to trail by just two goals (28-26).

With everything to play for, the final quarter was a ding-dong battle. Tshwane managed to get into the lead (33-32) but Jordaan’s youngsters maintained their composure and regained the advantage. They fought off a determined onslaught from Tshwane and emerged winners.

“It wasn’t a good match. It was a bit scrappy but I will take any win against a good team like Tshwane. This will definitely boost their confidence,” said Jordaan.

“I was very pleased that we had such a strong fourth quarter. Our goal had been to be two-up going into the final quarter and to take it from there. Tshwane caught up but then we managed to come back. I am very pleased we were able to hang in there,” she said.

Tshwane coach Jenny van Dyk was philosophical about the loss.                                                                                                                                     “I don’t like losing,” she admitted. “But I liked the way we were always in the game. “You can’t simulate being behind and having to fight back and we will put this experience to good use,” she said. “I always felt we had the ability to take it.”

Van Dyk rested her SPAR Protea goalshooter, Ine-Mari Venter, who limped off the court on Tuesday after turning her ankle. “We need to protect our national players,” said Van Dyk. “I am pretty sure she will be fit for the semifinals on Friday. We have already reached the semis, now we just need to secure our place in the final. But if Ine-Mari isn’t able to play, I still have confidence that my team can do the job.”

Tshwane and Dr Kenneth Kaunda met in the final in Johannesburg last year, with Tshwane winning after extra time. The match between the two bottom teams, Ekurhuleni and Cape Town, ended in a 30-all draw. This means that neither team has won a match so far. Ekurhuleni play Dr Kenneth Kaunda on Thursday, with Tshwane playing Johannesburg in the last round robin match.

The semifinals will be played on Friday and the final on Saturday.