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Gauteng North tops in Potch

Leigh-Ann Zackey, captain of the Gauteng North team had the perfect birthday present on Saturday when her team beat Free State Motheo 38-21 in the final of the SPAR National Netball Championships in Potchefstroom.

The championships serve as great build-up to the Commonwealth Games in India later this year. Zackey had said on Friday that the game plan was to take an early lead and to break the rhythm of their opponents, which is exactly what the Pretoria team did when they came out gun’s ablaze and went into a 5-0 lead before Free State were able to score their first goal. Gauteng North dominated the court and Free State struggled to get the ball into their circle in the early stages of the game.

Although Free State fought back bravely, it didn’t seem likely that they would catch up with Gauteng North.┬á Free State goal attack Maryke Holtzhausen had a good game, but her national teammates, goalkeeper Amanda Mynhardt and goal defence Zackey proved very hard to handle.

Gauteng North led 7-3 by the end of the first quarter and increased their lead to 10 goals by halftime, when they led 17-7. The third quarter was the most successful for the Free State, who scored eight goals in the quarter, but Gauteng North goalshooter Vanes-Mari du Toit and goal attack Annemarie Frost added 11 goals to their total.  By the final quarter, it was all over but Free State never gave up trying.

Marshalling her troops with skill and speed Erin Burger, named player of the tournament, was once again a dominant force on the court. She was ably supported by her centre court partners, wing attack Vasta Mhlongo and wing defence Rozanne Naidoo.

Coach Elize Kotze said the plan had been to dominate their opponents from the start. ÔÇ£We didn’t want to give them any hope,ÔÇØ she said.┬á ÔÇ£Throughout the tournament, we have started hard and got a good lead, and then made it difficult for our opponents to catch up.ÔÇØ

She said the success was partly because the nucleus of the team had been together for about three years. ÔÇ£They understand and trust one another, and that is why they are able to dominate,ÔÇØ she said.

ÔÇ£We started a very rigorous training programme at the start of the soccer World Cup, when there was a long lay-off.┬á I was determined that we would be the fittest team at the tournament, and I think there is no doubt that also contributed to our success.ÔÇØ

It was Gauteng North’s 19th championship title.┬áThey last won in Durban in 2007.

Gauteng North also won the men’s final, beating Ethekwini 31-28.┬áThe Gauteng North women’s B-team almost made it a hat-trick for their province in the B-section final, losing to South Western Districts by a single goal in extra time.┬á The final score in that match was SWD 55 Gauteng North 54. The C-section final was won by West Coast, who beat the Mpumalanga team, Gert Sibanda, 43-32.

Final day results
Women’s A Section

Gauteng North bt Free State Motheo 38/21

Women’s B Section
SWD bt Gauteng North 55/54

Women’s C Section
Gauteng North bt Ethekwini 31/28

Men’s Section
West Coast bt Gert Sibanda 43/32

Final standings
Women’s A Section

1 Gauteng North
2 Free State Motheo
3 Dr Kenneth Kaunda (NWS)
4 Western Province
5 Griqualand West
6 Gauteng East
7 Boland
8 Nelson Mandela Bay
9 Gauteng Central
10 Gauteng West

Women’s B Section
2 Gauteng North
3 Boland
4 Western Province
5 Zululand
6 Nelson Mandela Bay
7 Vhembe
8 Amathole
9 Gauteng Vaal
10 Capricorn

Women’s C Section
1 West Coast
2 Gert Sibanda
3 Griqualand West
4 Central Boland
5 KZN Midlands
6 Enhlanzeni
7 Shared between Waterberg and Ethekwini
9 Gauteng Central
10 Nkangala
11 Sekhukhune
12 NM Molema
13 Bojanala
14 OR Tambo
15 Fezile Dabi
16 KZN Ukhahlamba
17 Alfred NZO
18 Cacadu
19 EC Ukhahlamba
20 Chris Hani

Men’s Section
1 Gauteng North
2 Ethekwini
3 Zululand
4 KZN Midlands
5 Waterberg
6 Free State Motheo
7 Gauteng Central
8 NM Molema
9 Gauteng Vaal
10 KZN Ukhahlamba
11 Bojanala
12 Gauteng North
13 Dr Kenneth Kaunda (NWS)
14 Capricorn
15 Central Boland
16 Vhembe
17 Fezile Dabie
18 Limpopo Sekhukhune