Johannesburg won their maiden title with a nail-biting 24-23 win over Tshwane at the Spar National Netball Championships at the North West University, Fanie Du Toit Sports Grounds on Saturday.
Johannesburg lost to Tshwane in the round robin phase of the tournament, but coach Dr Elsje Jordaan’s team kept the best for last as they beat their northern neighbours, who have dominated South African netball over the past 10 years.
Tshwane were unbeaten until the final.
Jordaan’s mantra throughout the week was “start well and chip away at the scores,” and her team followed her instructions to the letter.
At the end of the first quarter, Johannesburg were 6-4 ahead. Tshwane drew level during the second quarter and even went into the lead, but Johannesburg pulled away again to lead 14-10 at halftime.
Tshwane won the third quarter by six goals to three, but Johannesburg were still ahead by the narrow margin of 17-16. The final quarter was drawn seven-all, but when the final whistle went, Johannesburg were able to celebrate their maiden title.
It was a low-scoring match, with the defenders on both sides succeeding with rebounds and turnovers. Johannesburg centre Tarle Mathe, who was named player of the tournament, was dynamic in seeing that the ball went to her shooting circle, with speed and agility.
“I thought we were in control most of the match and we almost gave it away with some missed passes,” said Jordaan.
“It is thrilling to have won the title for the first time,” she said.
“I have been in the final three times and this is the first time I have been on the winning side.”
Jordaan praised Tshwane, saying they were always formidable opponents.
“They are always very good finishers so I was relieved that we didn’t have to go into extra time.
“But my players were hungry and they really wanted it. They are a young side, with no one over 25, so I am super proud.
“We only had 10 players in our squad, with no medical staff and no video analysis, so they really had to dig deep. It took guts and heart to win this title,” said Jordaan.
In the Under-21 championship final also played on Saturday, Tshwane beat hosts Dr Kenneth Kaunda 38-27.