Simnikiwe Mdaka from Gauteng Central in action against Dr Kenneth Kaunda in the semifinals during day 5 of the SPAR National Championships at University of Johannesburg. Photo: Reg Caldecott

Defending champions Gauteng North appear set for a third successive title after beating Nelson Mandela Bay 47-36 in the first semi-final at the SPAR National Championships, at the University of Johannesburg on Friday.

Melissa Myburgh from Gauteng North (Right) and Zanele Vimbela from Nelson Mandela Bay compete for the ball in the semifinals during day 5 of the SPAR National Championships at University of Johannesburg. Photo: Reg CaldecottThey will meet Gauteng Central in the final on Saturday, after their southern neighbours overpowered Dr Kenneth Kaunda (North West South) 44-37 in the other semi-final.

Gauteng North were unbeaten in the group stages, and moved serenely into the final stages.

“I think the secret of our success has been playing good solid netball,” said coach Jenny van Dyk. “We have been very consistent throughout the tournament, and I believe that if we carry on this way, we will win tomorrow.”

Although Gauteng North were the team most affected by the withdrawal of the national players for a SPAR Proteas training camp, Van Dyk said one of her team’s strengths was its depth of talent. “For instance, we were able to take a former Protea player, Annemarie Frost, off the bench and bring her into the action, and when you can do that, you are always going to have an advantage,” she said.

Gauteng North went into the lead from the first quarter, and consistently outscored the Eastern Cape side, until the final quarter, when NMB scored 12 goals to Gauteng North’s nine. “I think we just lost our focus a bit in that last quarter, but we will talk about that, and it won’t happen tomorrow,” said Van Dyk.

Gauteng Central coach Elsje Jordaan was thrilled by her team’s achievement. In recent years, Gauteng Central have languished in the nether regions of the A-section, but have been rejuvenated since Jordaan, a sports scientist and former Protea captain, took over.

What makes their transformation even more impressive is that the team includes no students but is made up entirely of working women, who had to take leave to participate in the tournament. “We’ve worked very hard to achieve this,” said Jordaan.

“We’ve been training four times a week for the past three months, and the players have been very motivated by the influence of the Olympic Games. We’ve got a symbolic gold medal, which we touch before every practice and every match.”

Gauteng Central and Dr Kenneth Kaunda were level at the end of the first and second quarters, but Gauteng Central pulled away in the third. “That was part of our strategy,” said Jordaan. “We knew that Kenneth Kaunda always struggles a bit in the third quarter.

“We wanted to wear them down in the first half, and then come back strongly in the third. We started the final quarter 10 goals ahead. It’s very hard to make up the difference when you are so far behind. Kenneth Kaunda came hard at us in the final quarter, and I had a few anxious moments, but I knew we had a big enough lead to win.” Kenneth Kaunda won the last quarter by 12 goals to nine.

Dr Kenneth Kaunda and Nelson Mandela Bay will meet in the third place play-off at 10 o’clock on Saturday morning, with the final between Gauteng North and Gauteng Central played at 11.30.

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SPAR National Netball Championships Day 4 Results on 10 August 2012, at the University of Johannesburg, Auckland Park:
A Section:
Boland 61-33 Gauteng West
Freestate Motheo 33-32 Western Province
Ekurhuleni 49-40 Amathole
Gauteng North 47-36 Nelson Mandela Bay
Francis Baard 64-38 Gauteng West
Gauteng Central 44-37 Dr Kenneth Kaunda
Freestate Motheo 49-39 Ekurhuleni
Western Province 47-31 Amathole
B Section:
Gauteng North 46-23 Zululand
Western Province 53-33 Cacadu
SWD 56-19 Joe Qgabi
Nelson Mandela Bay 39-39 Bojanala
Boland 48-32 West Coast
Gauteng North 52-22 Buffalo City
Umgungundlovu 74-19 Zululand
Boland Bizhub 39-38 Gert Sibanda
Bafokeng 62-32 Nelson Mandela Bay
Gauteng North 59-49 Western Province
Umgungundlovu 52-41 Cacadu
Vhembe 57-37 Bojanala
Western Province 47-39 Nelson Mandela Bay
SWD 39-27 West Coast
Buffalo City 52-32 Joe Gqabi
C Section:
Western Province 36-35 Siyanda
Waterberg 52-24 DCS
Ilembe 46-21 Western Province
Ehlanzeni 46-44 Gauteng Vaal
Chris Hani 60-31 UGU
Central Boland 50-27 Nkangala
SANDF 46-45 Waterberg
DCS 38-32 Dr Ruth Mompati
Western Province 31-21 Bafokeng
Ethekwini 46-27 Uthungulu
Siyanda 45-32 Gauteng Central
OR Tambo 36-19 Sisonke
Sekhukhune 34-33 Fezile Dabi
Uthukela 37-29 Umzinyathi
Alfred Nzo 33-30 NM Molema
Ilembe 36-35 Gauteng Vaal
Umkhanyakude 51-49 Ehlanzeni
Waterberg 44-36 Nkangala
 
A Section Results on Day 4 of the SPAR National Netball Championships, at the University of Johannesburg, Auckland Park (Click here for all Day 4 results):
A Section:
Gauteng Central 53-47 Frances Baard
Boland Bizhub 44-41 Nelson Mandela Bay
Gauteng Central 49-37 Western Province
Nelson Mandela Bay 45-44 Ekurhuleni
Gauteng North 61-38 Amathole
Dr Kenneth Kaunda 47-41 Free State Motheo
 
A Section Results on Day 3 of the SPAR National Netball Championships, at the University of Johannesburg in Auckland Park (Click here for all Day 3 results):
A Section:
Ekurhuleni 53-33 Gauteng West
Dr Kenneth 46-32 Boland Bizhub
Gauteng North 50-35 Gauteng Central
Ekurhuleni 54-25 Amathole
Nelson Mandela Bay 43-41 Dr Kenneth Kaunda
Gauteng North 67-47 Frances Baard
Western Province 40-25 Amathole
Freestate Motheo 75-30 Gauteng West
 
A Section Results on Day 2 of the SPAR National Netball Championships, at the University of Johannesburg in Auckland Park (Click here for all Day 2 results):
A Section:
Gauteng Central 40-36 Dr. Kenneth Kaunda
FS Motheo Fundco 59-59 Ekurhuleni
Gauteng North 58-42 Boland Bizhub
Nelson Mandela Bay 61-45 Frances Baard
Amathole 52-34 Gauteng West
Free State Motheo Fundco 47-33 Western Province
 
A Section Results on Day 1 of the SPAR National Netball Championships, at the University of Johannesburg, Auckland Park (Click here for all Day 1 results)
A Section:
Boland Bizhub 51-42 Frances Baard
Western Province 56-30 Gauteng West
Gauteng North 42-37 Dr. Kenneth Kaunda
Gauteng Central 45-41 Nelson Mandela Bay
Free State Motheo Fundo 53-28 Amathole
Western Province 42-36 Ekurhuleni
Dr. Kenneth Kaunda 63-23 Frances Baard
Gauteng Central 55-44 Boland Bizhub
Gauteng North 51-45 Nelson Mandela Bay