Mangaung (formerly Free State) finally got a monkey off their backs when they became netball champions for the first time in more than 50 years, when they came from behind to beat Gauteng North 39-36 in the final of the SPAR National Championships at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in Rustenburg on Saturday.
The last time a Free State team won the national title was when Southern Free State became champions in 1961 and 1962.
Mangaung have played in six finals in the past 10 years, but until now have been on the losing side, while Gauteng North were aiming for their fourth successive title. “If you play in six finals, you’ve got to win eventually,” joked a beaming Maryka Holtzhausen, the Mangaung Vice-Captain, as the reality struck home.
Mangaung were first off the block in the opening quarter, during which the lead changed hands from minute to minute, with Gauteng North ending 11-9 ahead. The defending champions stretched their lead in the second quarter, and at times were as many as six goals ahead. They led 21-17 at halftime.
But the Free State team stormed back after the break, scoring eight of the first nine goals in the quarter. While Gauteng had looked the more polished side in the first half, with accurate passes and quick decision-making, the roles were reversed in the second half, with Mangaung looking self-assured and confident.
“We made a couple of positional changes at halftime, and that gave the team more space to play creatively,” said Coach Burta de Kock. Mangaung led 28-26 at the end of the third quarter. In the final 15 minutes, goals went largely according to the centre pass, and Mangaung managed to keep their noses in front.
“At one stage, I asked how long was left,” said goal attack Holtzhausen. “I was told there were two and a half minutes, and those were the longest of my life. We knew we just had to keep the ball in hand and we could do it.”
“I’m so proud of my players,” said Captain Adele Niemand, who was named player of the tournament. “I’ve been playing for Free State for 10 years, and it’s a dream come true that we have finally won the title. It was a real team effort, and showed that all our hard work has paid off.”
De Kock said they had known the match was going to be tough, but she said the leadership on the court was what had made the difference. “The players stuck to their game plan and showed their determination. I told them they could win if they wanted to win more than they wanted to breathe. This was a fantastic outcome for a coach.”
In the play-off for third place, Dr Kenneth Kaunda (formerly North West South) beat Nelson Mandela Bay 53-44. Boland B beat Gauteng North B 39-29 to win the B-section and Ilembe beat Nkangala 40-35 to win the C-section.
2013 SPAR National Netball Championship Results at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace, Phokeng, in the North West, on Saturday, 10 August, 2013: A Section Final: Mangaung 39-36 Gauteng North 3rd/4th: Dr Kenneth Kaunda 53-44 Nelson Mandela Bay 5th/6th: Gauteng Central 40-35 Boland 7th/8th: Western Province 52-38 Frances Baard Individual Awards: Best Shooter: Dumisane Chauke (90.3%) – Nelson Mandela Bay Best Centre-Court Player: Bongiwe Msomi – Umgungundlovu Best Defender: Karla Mostert – Mangaung Player of the tournament: Adele Niemand – Mangaung B Section Final: Boland 39-29 Gauteng North 3rd/4th: Gauteng West 56-50 Nelson Mandela Bay C Section Final: Ilembe 40-35 Nkangala Results: Day Five of the SPAR National Netball Championships on Friday, 9 August, 2013: A Section: Semi-Finals: Gauteng North 57-37 Nelson Mandela Bay Mangaung 50-36 Dr Kenneth Kaunda 5-8th Place Playoffs: Gauteng Central 44-38 Western Province Boland 55-52 Frances Baard Quarter-Finals: Gauteng North 57-38 Western Province Dr Kenneth Kaunda 59-32 Boland Mangaung 66-22 Frances Baard Nelson Mandela Bay 49-31 Gauteng Central Playoffs: Ekurhuleni 35-33 Royal Bafokeng Umgungundlovu 54-44 Buffalo City B Section: Zululand 60-33 Amathole Western Province 55-42 West Coast Gert Sibande 41-38 SWD Bojanala 55-38 Vhembe Capricorn 42-34 Central Boland Gauteng North 34-28 Gauteng West Boland 59-26 Nelson Mandela Bay Zululand 65-40 Cacadu C Section: Ilembe 64-39 Ehlanzeni Ethekwini 49-47 SANDF Waterberg 52-23 Royal Bafokeng B Gauteng Vaal 34-33 Fezile Dabi Siyanda 30-28 Chris Hani NM Molema 47-30 Uthukela Umzinyathi W/O Sekhukhune Nkangala 56-33 Ehlanzeni Western Province 51-31 SANDF Uthungulu 58-47 Waterberg Gauteng Vaal 48-31 Alfred Nzo Sisonke 43-28 Siyanda NM Molema 61-34 Umzinyathi Ethekwini 51-44 SANDF Waterberg 44-36 Royal Bafokeng Alfred Nzo 47-41 Fezile Dabi Chris Hani 47-35 Siyanda Results: Day Four of the SPAR National Netball Championships on Thursday, 8 August, 2013: A Section: Mangaung 51-29 Boland Frances Baard 69-59 Umgungundlovu Buffalo City 48-42 Royal Bafokeng Gauteng North 74-26 Nelson Mandela Bay Dr Kenneth Kaunda 54-36 Gauteng Central Umgungundlovu 41-39 Western Province Boland 47-24 Royal Bafokeng Frances Baard 54-51 Ekurhuleni B Section: Nelson Mandela Bay 50-42 Vhembe Gert Sibande W/O Cacadu Gauteng North 54-41 Zululand Gauteng West 61-26 West Coast Capricorn 32-29 Amathole SWD 42 Western-41 Province Boland 53-21 Bojanala Gert Sibanda 36-31 Nelson Mandela Bay Gauteng West 52-33 Cacadu Vhembe 34-34 Capricorn Gauteng North 49-26 Bojanala Zululand 56-43 Central Boland West Coast 41-30 Amathole Boland 51-22 Western Province C Section: SANDF 56-26 Royal Bafokeng Ilembe 49-40 NM Molema Ethekwini 50-45 Waterberg Gauteng Vaal 73-25 Umzinyathi Nkangala 45-40 Uthungulu Alfred Nzo 45-29 Sekhukhune Ilembe 54-33 Siyanda Royal Bafokeng 42-41 NM Molema Gauteng Vaal 41-20 Uthukela Ethekwini 62-31 Umzinyathi Western Province 49-26 Sisonke Ehlanzeni 66-27 Chris Hani Uthungulu 61-22 Sekhukhune Results: Day Three of the SPAR National Netball Championships on Wednesday, 7 August, 2013: A Section: Dr Kenneth Kaunda 60-33 Ekurhuleni Mangaung 44-33 Nelson Mandela Bay Gauteng Central 55-28 Frances Baard Dr Kenneth Kaunda 53-42 Western Province Umgungundlovu 38-29 Ekurhuleni Gauteng North 61-19 Boland Mangaung 76-26 Royal Bafokeng Nelson Mandela Bay 54-34 Buffalo City B Section: Nelson Mandela Bay 60-26 Capricorn Gert Sibanda 46-23 Amathole Gauteng West 49-39 Vhembe West Coast 45-40 Cacadu Gauteng North 52-23 SWD Zululand 38-35 Bojanala Boland 58-20 Central Boland Gauteng West 53-26 Nelson Mandela Bay West Coast 48-35 Vhembe Bojanala 51-34 Central Boland Zululand 53-31 SWD Gert Sibanda 47-25 Capricorn Cacadu 48-38 Amathole Gauteng North 51-40 Western Province C Section: SANDF 55-47 NM Molema Waterberg 70-14 Umzinyathi Gauteng Vaal 52-41 Ehlanzeni Ethekwini 66-23 Uthukela Western Province C 59-23 Alfred Nzo Nkangala 84-15 Sekhukhune NM Molema 57-38 Siyanda Fezile Dabi 53-36 Royal Bafokeng Waterberg 43-39 Ehlanzeni Ethekwini 66-25 Chris Hani Uthukela 34-21 Umzinyathi Ngangala 49-36 Western Province Uthungulu 53-25 Sisonke Results: Day Two of the SPAR National Netball Championships on Tuesday 6 August, 2013: A Section: Gauteng North 49-30 Mangaung Gauteng Central 44-25 Ekurhuleni Nelson Mandela Bay 60-29 Royal Bafokeng Gauteng North 75-16 Buffalo City Dr Kenneth Kaunda 56-40 Umgungundlovu Gauteng Central 40-33 Western Province Buffalo City 54-28 Boland Frances Baard 47-43 Western Province B Section: Vhembe 59-28 Amathole Western Province 47-39 Bojanala Boland 36-24 Gauteng North Nelson Mandela Bay 70-43 Cacadu West Coast 40-29 Capricorn Gert Sibande 40-39 Gauteng West SWD 45-39 Central Boland Waterberg 38-35 Gauteng Vaal Chris Hani 48-28 Umzinyathi Nelson Mandela Bay 58-29 West Coast Gert Sibanda 29-24 Vhembe Zululand 44-42 Western Province Gauteng West 51-20 Amathole Capricorn 49-37 Cacadu Boland 49-32 SWD C Section: Ilembe 49-41 SANDF Alfred Nzo 51-39 Sisonke Fezile Dabi 56-42 NM Molema Siyanda 31-27 Royal Bafokeng B Western Province 51-47 Uthungulu Ehlanzeni 50-23 Uthungela Waterberg 38-35 Gauteng Vaal Chris Hani 48-28 Umzinyathi SANDF 48-41 Siyanda Ilembe 58-44 Fezile Dabi Nkangala 60-23 Alfred Nzo Waterberg 56-19 Uthungela Sisonke 60-22 Sekhukhune Ethekwini 52-35 Ehlanzeni Gauteng Vaal 43-23 Chris Hani Results: Day 1 Spar National Netball Championships on Monday 5 August, 2013: A Section: Mangaung Metro 54-28 Buffalo City Western Province 54-38 Ekurhuleni Nelson Mandela Bay 50-40 Boland Dr Kenneth Kaunda 71-26 Frances Baard Gauteng North 82-18 Royal Bafokeng Gauteng Central 47-29 Umgungundlovu B Section: Gauteng West 60-22 Capricorn Gert Sibande 38-33 West Coast SWD 46-43 Bojanala Gauteng North 55-35 Central Boland Nelson Mandela Bay 57-15 Amathole Vhembe 55-39 Cacadu Western Province 53-31 Central Boland Boland 70-25 Zululand C Section: SANDF 57-47 Fezile Dabi Waterberg 62-20 Chris Hani Nkangala 46-30 Sisonke Ehlanzeni 62-16 Umzinyathi Western Province 69-21 Sekhukhune Ilembe 60-17 Royal Bafokeng B Ethekwini 35-25 Gauteng Vaal Fezile Dabi 43-31 Siyanda 31 Chris Hani 30-29 Uthungela Uthungulu 54-31 Alfred Nzo
(With editing by gsport)