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Defending champions Tshwane claimed their third successive SPAR National Championships title when they beat Dr Kenneth Kaunda 44-39 in the final at the Zwartkloof Private Game Reserve in Bela Bela on Saturday.

The match very nearly did not take place. The venue was lashed by a heavy downpour during the Under-21 final. If the rain had continued, Dr Kenneth Kaunda would have been declared winners because they had finished top of the log. But the sun came out again, the court dried up and the final was able to be played.

Tshwane lost to narrowly to Dr Kenneth Kaunda in their round robin match on Wednesday when the team from the North West took the early lead and hung on to it. Tshwane coach, Jenny van Dyk made sure this did not happen again. Initially, the scores went with centre pass, but goalshooter Ine-Mari Venter and goal attack Chantelle Swart made sure that their team had a three goal lead at the end of the first quarter.

The defenders at both ends were outstanding, with Nozipho Ntshangase and Akosua Monsah turning balls for Tshwane and Didintle Keebine and Monique Reynecke doing the same for Dr Kenneth Kaunda. Tshwane centre, Marlize de Bruyn, who was named in the national training squad on Friday night, had an outstanding game, with some audacious intercepts, and kept feeding the ball to her shooters.

At halftime, Tshwane were 26-20 ahead. Dr Kenneth Kaunda made a determined effort in the third quarter, outscoring Tshwane 10-8, but the champions showed their mettle in the final quarter, stamping their authority on the match to finish five goals ahead.

“I told the girls, if we play this match, we will win,” said Van Dyk.

“There was lots of anxiety and lots of prayers during that storm. I told them to keep their focus and to concentrate on our game plans,” she said.

“It’s all about planning and precision.”

Van Dyk said she believed her team was in control throughout the match.

“I didn’t feel that way in our previous match, but I was confident throughout this one.”

She said Dr Kenneth Kaunda was an exciting young team to look out for in the future.

Van Dyk said she was ecstatic that Tshwane had won the most important tournament in the country for three years in a row.

“We set ourselves very high standards and that is why we are achieving so much.”

Earlier, Tshwane Under 21 beat Mangaung 50-48 in a match that went into extra time.

Nozipho Ntshangase (Dr Kenneth Kaunda) was named Defender of the tournament.
Marlize de Bruyn (Tshwane) was Midcourt Player of the tournament.
The Goalshooter of the Tournament was Ine-Mari Venter.
Monique Reynecke (Dr Kenneth Kaunda) was named Player of the Tournament.

Senior A
Dr Kenneth Kaunda  54 Cape Town 16
Tshwane 1 55 Johannesburg 1 23

U21 A
Tshwane 1 51 Johannesburg 1 15
Dr Kenneth Kaunda 46 Mangaung 49

Senior A
Dr Kenneth Kaunda 39 Tshwane 1 44

U21 A
Tshwane 1 50 Mangaung 48

3rd/4th Playoff
Senior A
Cape Town 25 Johannesburg 35

U21 A
Johannesburg 1 18 Dr Kenneth Kaunda 28