Cape Town — For the first time in six years, a Western Cape side was crowned Spar National Netball Champions after Cape Winelands defeated Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB) 66-54 in Saturday's final in Bellville.
Western Cape won the title in 2016, and since then it was Gauteng and Tshwane who won thrice consecutively. Over the last while, the minor placings were filled by Dr Kenneth Kaunda (North West) and Mangaung (Bloemfontein). Tshwane, Kenneth Kaunda were Mangaung were forced to withdraw because of the pandemic.
Winelands coach Marchelle Maroun, who coached Winelands at short notice, said she would have liked to have played against these teams that have been traditional strongholds of national netball. However, the team did well to hold out against a formidable NMB side.
“It would have been nice to have tested us against Tshwane, but we couldn’t worry about the teams not here," said Maroun. "I believe we were the best team at the tournament. I do not think the absence of Tshwane, Mangaung and Dr Kenneth Kaunda detracts from our victory.
"We were happy that we came up against strong opposition, and they (NMB) brought the best out of us. Our players took some chances, some came off, but some did not."
Nicholé Taljaard, the victorious Winelands captain, was named as 'Player of the Final'. She said the coach had worked out an action plan for every player, going to the final.
The core group, many drawn from Stellenbosch University (Maties,) had been playing together in several teams this year, and for the first time, they ended up with the winners' spoils.
The final was a titanic battle from start to finish, and the eventual outcome remained a lottery until the early stages of the final quarter. Winelands inched ahead 17-16 after the first quarter and then raised the bar with a commanding performance to race ahead 34-24 by the end of the second. This proved to be a killer shift for NMB, although they bounced back with a great fight in the third to close the gap 47-43.
Winelands' class came to the fore at the outset of the fourth, and they left NMB floundering in their slipstream towards the end after opening an 11-point margin.
Other awards included: Best Overall Player - Jeanie Steyn; Sports medal Best Shooter - Nicholé Taljaard; Sports medal Best Mid-Court - Siphosethu Kilani and Sports medal Best Defence - Jeanté Strydom.