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Tshwane, Cape Town and Dr Kenneth Kaunda all won their opening matches on the first day of the SPAR National Netball Championships at the Zwartkloof Private Game Reserve in Bela Bela on Monday.

The A-section has been reduced to five teams, after the withdrawal because of the Corona Virus of Nelson Mandela Bay, Mangaung and the Cape Winelands.

The defending champions, Tshwane, got off to the start they wanted, beating Ekurhuleni 67-13, after a first quarter lead of 20-0.

Captain Ine-Mari Venter said the match had helped the team to get back into the swing of things, after a long break since their last competitive match.

“We were able to play our whole squad and try out different combinations. The win was a very good foundation for the rest of the tournament,” said Venter.

Johannesburg beat Cape Town 43-32, and Dr Kenneth Kaunda beat Johannesburg 59-29.

“It’s been an interesting experience so far,” said Johannesburg player Lerato Gopane.

“It’s my first year in the A-division and it has been quite an experience. I am amazed at the pace of the game and the level of fitness in the A section. We are disappointed to have lost both matches, but I am sure we will start to gel as the tournament goes on.”

Dr Kenneth Kaunda coach Elsje Jordaan was happy with her team’s performance in their opening match. Dr Kenneth Kaunda led 24-12 at halftime.

“I have a very young team – six of them are under-21s, so we are very much in the process of rebuilding. Some senior players have retired and others were unavailable.

“I am enjoying working with them and moulding them into my style of play. I will be taking the SPAR Baby Proteas to the World Youth Championships in Fiji next year, so it is good for me to learn how to deal with the Under-21 players. “You get spoilt with the senior players, who know what to do – you have to teach these youngsters everything.”

She said the first half had been a bit shaky, but they had played better in the second half.

“I was able to play all 10 players – I only have 10 in my squad – and try out different combinations.”

Cape Town have two tough matches on Tuesday, coming up against Dr Kenneth Kaunda in the morning and Tshwane in the afternoon. The other match will be between Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni.

The finals will be played on Saturday morning and broadcast live on SuperSport.

A-section and U21-A section games will be live streamed from 09h30 each day of the tournament on (channel 245,) and SuperSport YouTube.

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📸 Reg Caldecott