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Bellville, Cape Town, South Africa: Johannesburg recorded their first wins at the SPAR National Netball Championships at Hoërskool DF Malan on Wednesday when they beat Ethekwini and Buffalo City.

They beat Ethekwini 52-46 and later in the day they dominated Buffalo City 50-36.

“I am very proud of them,” said coach Tshepiso Basiamisi.

“They proved they can do it when they put their minds to it. I think we stand a good chance of reaching the semifinals on Friday, and anything can happen in a semifinal.

“On paper we are one of the least experienced teams – we have only two or three players who have played at Telkom Netball League level. But we are learning from every match and if we do go into the semis we will put what happened before behind us and focus on the game in hand. The previous games are over and the game in hand is what is important,” said Basiamisi.

Cape Winelands continued their march to the finals with an emphatic 60-48 win over Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB). Winelands are undefeated so far, and it was a first defeat for NMB.

For the first eight minutes, scores went with the centre pass, but Winelands then scored six unanswered goals.  NMB responded with three in a row, but Winelands came back strongly. By halftime, Winelands led 31-22. In the third quarter, Winelands increased their lead to beyond the critical 10-goal margin and although NMB fought bravely, they were unable to catch up.  However, they can take some pride from the final quarter, which they won by 15 goals to 14.

Winelands coach Marchelle Maroun said she was surprised by the margin of victory.

“I was very pleased with the way they listened to instructions and carried them out. Our defensive unit is gelling nicely and (goalkeeper) Lauren Adendorf was particularly effective at neutralizing their very tall goalshooter, Kaylin Coetzer,” she said.

“They are communicating well with one another and they are learning to cope with the big matches.”

NMB coach Lana Krige said her players made some basic errors.

“They became a bit flustered and some of their passes were a bit wild, but that’s what pressure does to you. They were thrown by the physicality of the Winelands defence and I think they are still not sure that they deserve to be in the A-section.  But they will learn from this and we can only get better,” said Krige.

“I was happy that they got things right in the final quarter.”

NMB went on to beat Ethekwini 45-34, after leading 29-12 at halftime.  The team appeared more composed than in their earlier match and made short work of the team from Kwa Zulu Natal.

Cape Town had to fight hard to beat Ethekwini. They finally won 46-43, but the lead changed hands throughout the match and it was only in the last minutes that Cape Town were able to stamp their authority.

On Thursday, NMB will take on Buffalo City in an Eastern Cape derby, while Johannesburg play Cape Town and Ethekwini come up against tournament favourites, Cape Winelands.