Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
2 minute read
6 Dec 2021
8:21 pm

Cape Winelands step forward at national netball champs

Wesley Botton

Cape Winelands edged out Johannesburg in the tournament opener, securing a 64-58 victory and flaunting their potential as title contenders.

Shannen Bartlett of Cape Winelands in action against Johannesburg during day one of the National Netball Championships at DF Malan High School on Monday. Picture: Reg Caldecott/Gallo Images

Cape Winelands took advantage of an under-strength line-up yesterday, opening their campaign with two impressive victories on the first day of competition at the Spar National Netball Championships in Cape Town.

With three of the country’s top districts missing from the event, the senior A-division was restricted to just six sides in a wide open tournament.

Defending champions Tshwane withdrew on the eve of the domestic showpiece after two players in their senior squad tested positive for Covid and multiple others displayed symptoms.

Two of the other tournament favourites, Mangaung (who could not secure the services of all their university players) and Dr Kenneth Kaunda, were also missing from the senior A division at the annual event.

In their absence, Cape Winelands edged out Johannesburg in the tournament opener, securing a 64-58 victory and flaunting their potential as title contenders.

And while they went on to thump Buffalo City with a 69-39 win later in the day, Winelands coach Marchelle Maroun was reluctant to put too much pressure on her squad.

“We’re taking each match as it comes and really going out there hard,” Maroun said

“We’re focussing on the process, and we’ll start focussing on winning when we get closer to the semifinals and final.

“Obviously we’ve got a goal, and we are here to win, but leading up to that we want to take care of the things that matter.”

Should they reach this weekend’s playoffs, Maroun was confident Cape Winelands had the depth and ability to go all the way.

“We never brought any players here to sit on the bench… so it’s about giving them a run and seeing, going ahead, who is going to be able to handle those big matches and who can take those hard knocks,” she said.

Meanwhile, Cape Town beat Ethekwini 44-28 in their first match of the tournament, but they were later handed a 47-36 defeat by Nelson Mandela Bay.