Cape Town — The Western Cape teams dominated the opening day of the Spar National Netball Championships at the DF Academy, on Monday.
Because of prevailing circumstances, the elite A Section was robbed of three teams, including title-holders Tshwane, Mangaung and Kenneth Kaunda (North-West province). It Cape Town A, Nelson Mandela Bay, Cape Winelands A, Johannesburg A, Buffalo City and eThekwini (KZN) will battle it out for the 2021 crown.
Cape Winelands A saw off Johannesburg A 64 -58 in the pipe-opener.
Johannesburg were at their best in the second and third quarters, but the Cape side closed out strongly to secure victory.
The experienced Winelands coach Marchelle Maroun said the draw was kind to her team because it was an advantage to go up against a strong team like Johannesburg A in the opening match. It turned out to be closely fought and ended with a slender six-point winning margin for the Capetonians.
"A win is a win, and it was exciting to win the first match," said Maroun. "There are a few things that need tidying up before we play our next game. We need to work on the front positioning of the defence.
"We have the shooters that can shoot. It's just the communication on the court that we have to sort out.
"We are turning the ball, and our players can handle big matches. They have BMT."
Spar Proteas player Nichole Taljaard, the captain of Winelands, said the result gave the team a positive mindset ahead of the next game.
"We are very positive after coming away with this result," said Taljaard. "There are a few things we worked on, and it worked well.
"There were a few things that didn't work well, and that happened because of a bit of confusion. It's things that can be fixed.
"Now, we'll work on what we can do better in the next match.
"Despite the withdrawals, the teams that are participating are all strong teams, and you will see that winning margins will be small right up until the final. There might even be surprises to see who will reach the final.
The coach of Johannesburg A Professor (his Christian name) Chipeya said his side lost the match, but he came away with a winning feeling. He said the team was thrown out of stride by problematic logistics at the start of the day.
"We did not warm-up properly, and we only came into our stride in the second quarter," said Chipeya. "We lost, but it felt like a win. It was very close, and in the middle quarters, it was neck-and-neck.
"The result could have gone anyway. I'm pleased at how the team fought back after the first quarter.
"There are only two players who have played in the national champs before, so we are campaigning with many greenhorns.
"We're ready for Tuesday's match, and we'll see the real Johannesburg team coming into play. We'll look to play on our opponent's strong points rather than their weaknesses."
In other A Section matches, Cape Town A outmuscled eThekwini 44-28, Cape Town A scraped home 41 -39 against Nelson Mandela Bay and Cape Winelands A bagged another victory with a runaway 69-39 win over Buffalo City.