Gauteng North picked themselves up after their shock defeat to Dr Kenneth Kaunda (North West South) with two decisive victories on the fourth day of the Spar National Netball Championships at the Bellville Velodrome on Thursday. They thumped Umgungundlovu 75-26 in the morning, and then handed defending champions Mangaung Metro (Free State) their second defeat, beating them 74-44, to continue their march to the final on Saturday. Barring major upsets, the final is likely to be between Gauteng North and Kenneth Kaunda.
“We didn’t want to feel like we did after losing yesterday. We talked long and hard about where we went wrong, and we knew that we had to bring extra energy to the court today,” said captain Amanda Mynhardt. “We’ve got our campaign back on track again. I told the players that playing in the final is not a right but a privilege that has to be earned. I was happy with the way they played today, but we still have two games to go and we can’t lose focus now. It looks as if we will play Kenneth Kaunda in the final, and that would suit us, because we have a score to settle,” said coach Jenny Van Dyk. Gauteng North were dominant throughout the match, with speed, accuracy, slick passes and good understanding among the players.
The Free State shooters were generally accurate, but were not given enough ball in the circle. At half-time, Gauteng North led 32-20, and stretched their lead still further in the third quarter. In the final quarter, Van Dyk made a number of changes and the Free State players fought back hard, losing the quarter by just three goals.
But it was too little, too late and the champions now face the probability of not reaching the final. “We’re very disappointed, but bad decision-making cost us the game. We don’t have much chance of making the final, so now we have to set new goals and focus on finishing third,” said Mangaung Metro captain Lauren-Lee Christians. Mangaung won their other match, beating Buffalo City 61-36. Kenneth Kaunda retained their unbeaten record, beating Frances Baard (Griqualand West) 63-28 and Buffalo City 53-25.
They play Mangaung Metro and Western Province in their final games, and on current form should have no difficulty disposing of them. Nelson Mandela Bay notched up two wins, beating Western Province 38-30 and Umgungundlovu 42-39, while Gauteng West got their first win with a narrow 59-57 victory over Frances Baard. In a provincial derby, Boland beat neighbours Western Cape 33-28. Earlier, they defeated Gauteng West by 67 goals to 21.
Photo: Tshina Mdau of Gauteng North in action against Umgungundlovu during day 4 of the Spar National Netball Championships at Bellville Velodrome on August 14, 2014 in Cape Town.
Photo credit: Reg Caldecott