Potchefstroom — The results were as expected, the manner in which they were achieved not so much, as Tshwane and Johannesburg booked their spots in Saturday’s SPAR Women’s Netball National Championships final in Potchefstroom.
Perennial champions Tshwane sneaked past Mangaung 30-29 in an edge-of-the-seat enthralling semi-final encounter while their neighbours had it easy as they disposed of hosts Dr Kenneth Kaunda 39-22.
Johannesburg captain Boitumelo Mahloko couldn’t hide her excitement after the match.
“We did exactly what we came here to do so this is exciting for us. We are in the final and we are looking forward to playing against Tshwane.”
It could well be that the team south of the Jukskei are now fancying their chances against the favourites given just how much Tshwane had to sweat for their victory.
They, on the other side, had the equivalent of a Sunday stroll in the park as they played the hosts off the court with consummate ease.
Not so for Tshwane who endured a see-saw battle with a determined Mangaung side that gave as good as they got in the first semi-final.
In arguably the most exciting match of the tournament, the semi-final had the crowd — made up mainly of the participating teams that have already been knocked out — shouting at the top of their lungs, most backing the underdogs Mangaung.
There was little to separate the two teams in all four quarters, with Mangaung starting like a house on fire and racing to an early 2-0 lead before being reeled in and losing the first quarter 10-8. This thanks to goal shooter Bianca Pienaar missing two sitters.
But she got her bearings right in the second quarter to see Mangaung win it 7-6, thus reducing Tshwane’s lead to one goal at 16-15.
Inspired by the guile, passing prowess, and precise shooting abilities of goal attack Kamogelo Maseko who had a last-minute goal ruled out as it came just after the whistle, Tshwane won the third quarter 7-5 and looked to be sailing to victory.
But their opponents just wouldn’t give up and made a fight of it for a 9-8 score in the last quarter. But a shock victory proved a bridge too far as Tshwane prevailed to set up a mouth-watering Gauteng derby final against their neighbours.