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Durban, South Africa –  There was drama on the fourth day of the SPAR national netball championships at the Hoy Park sports centre in Durban on Thursday.

Free State and SPAR Proteas captain Maryka Holtzhausen had to be helped off the court with a suspected torn ligament in her right knee midway through the third quarter of Free State’s crucial match against defending champions North West.  The injury could keep her out of the Proteas squad for the Quad Series against Australia, New Zealand and England, starting later this month.

Free State, however, shrugged off the drama to beat North West by 39 goals to 29.Free State looked the better side throughout the match, and the combination of Karla Mostert and her sister Tanya as goal defender and goalkeeper worked superbly. Karla once again was brilliant at intercepting and turning the ball and the sisters made life difficult for the North West shooters.

North West were jittery and made some bad passing errors and shooters Kifiloe Tsotetsi and Renske Stoltz were both off song, battling to get the ball in the net.North West coach Julene Meyer was disappointed with her team’s performance.

“It was a very tough match, but we didn’t execute our game plans,” she said.“The pressure was on us for the first time, and the players were flat and lethargic.“We have two tough games tomorrow, against Gauteng A1 and Western Cape, and we have to win both of those if we want to go through (to the final),” she said.“I want the shooters to achieve 90 per cent accuracy and I want the players to take responsibility for themselves. We need to be consistent.”

Free State coach Burta de Kock was pleased with the win and said they had planned well for the match.“Losing Maryka was a serious blow, because she is an outstanding player and an outstanding leader. But she will stay with us and she will be involved in our remaining matches in a consulting capacity,” said De Kock. Earlier, Free State beat Gauteng 1 62-33 and North West beat Limpopo 56-20. Western Cape retained their unbeaten record with a 74-17 win over Mpumalanga.