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Durban, South Africa – Defending champions North West got off to a winning start on the opening day of the SPAR national netball championships at the Hoy Park Sports Centre on Monday, beating Gauteng Two by 51 goals to 17.

The opening day’s matches were played in windy conditions, which made goal scoring difficult for all the teams.  North West coach Julene Meyer said the gusty conditions meant that her team could not make use of their specialist long distance shooters, as the ball swirled away from the net, but she was happy with the start of their campaign.

“I was happy to be able to give everyone a run on court and to get a win.  From tomorrow we can build on that, and hopefully the weather will improve.  The wind has a big impact on game plans,” said Meyer.

“But we were able to try out different combinations.  From now on, we will be playing two or three games a day, so I need to make sure that everyone has game time.”

Gauteng Two coach Jenni-Lee Delport said her team had mixed fortunes on the opening day, beating Mpumalanga 47-24, but going down heavily to Western Cape and North West.

“Western Cape are a tough team – they are tournament contenders,” she said.

“We struggled against them.  We started well in our match against North West, but then the players started making silly mistakes. But we will get better as the tournament goes on,” said Delport.

Western Cape had three matches on the opening day, beating KwaZulu Natal One 63-18, Gauteng Two 68-15 and thrashing KwaZulu Natal Two 94-10.

Gauteng One had an easy start to the tournament, with a comprehensive 88-21 victory over Northern Cape. Free State also got off to a good start, beating Eastern Cape 52-21 and Northern Cape 75-19. Eastern Cape bounced back from their loss to Free State with a 56-37 win over Limpopo, who beat KwaZulu Natal Two 57-40 in their earlier match.

KwaZulu Natal One also had a mixed day, recovering from their loss to Western Cape by beating Mpumalanga 49-22.