Johannesburg – The Cape Winelands humbled Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB) 66-54 in the final at Hoërskool DF Malan on Saturday to bring the title back to the Cape for the first time since 2016.
The defending champions, Tshwane, who won four years in succession, had to withdraw from the championships at the eleventh hour when members of their team contracted Covid-19.
The lead changed hands several times in the first quarter, as first one side then the other gained ascendancy.
At the end of the quarter, Winelands had a slender 17-16 lead, but they stepped up a gear in the second quarter, and pulled away from NMB to lead 34-24 at halftime.
NMB fought back hard in the third quarter, undeterred by the 10-goal margin.
Jeanie Steyn, who was named MVP of the tournament, succeeded with some audacious intercepts and MMB outscored Winelands by 19 goals to 13, reducing the deficit to 47-43.
Winelands stormed back in the final quarter, determined not to lose sight of the title that has eluded them for four years.
Captain Nichole Taljaard was on song, proving she deserved being named best shooter of the tournament.
Shannon Bartlett moved from centre to wing attack and did a superb job of feeding the ball to her shooting circle.
This time it was the Cape team that scored 19 goals to the 11 for NMB.
“At last, I’m never taking this winner’s medal off. We’ve been in this position a few times this year, and it’s wonderful to win a title at last,” said an elated Taljaard.
We were in the finals of Varsity Netball and of the Telkom Netball League, and it’s definitely better on the winning side,” she added.
Coach Marchelle Maroun, who took over coaching the team after their previous coach, Annelie Lucas, was elected Netball South Africa’s Director of Coaching in October, said she was very happy with her team’s performance.
“Our tough semi-final against Johannesburg was an excellent preparation for the final today.
I told the players that they couldn’t afford to start slowly and they responded the way I wanted them to.
“I am very proud of the players. They took some chances but most of them came off,” said Maroun.
In the Under-21 final, Dr Kenneth Kaunda thrashed Tshwane 73-44.
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