University of Pretoria (Tuks) beat University of the Western Cape (UWC) 79-37 at the Coetzenburg Indoor Centre on Saturday, 28 August 2021, to secure the last semi-final spot in this year’s Varsity Netball tournament, while Stellenbosch University (Maties), North West University (NWU) and University of the Free State (Kovsies) were also victorious in Round 7.
Top-of-the-log Maties will take on fourth-placed Tuks in the first semi-final on Sunday (14:00) before second-placed Kovsies take on third-placed NWU (16:00). Both semi-finals will be broadcast live on SuperSport Variety 4 (DStv channel 209).
Maties remain the only undefeated team in this year’s tournament and beat Tuks by 22 goals in their encounter on Friday (71-49). Kovsies will go into the second semi-final as favourites having beaten NWU convincingly earlier in the week (76-52).
In the earlier matches on Sunday, Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) will take on UWC in the seventh-place playoff (10:00), before University of Johannesburg (UJ) face the Nelson Mandela University (Madibaz) in a battle for fifth (12:00).
— Varsity Netball (@VarsityNetball) August 28, 2021
After a riling speech by coach Bongi Msomi, who instructed her team to ‘Die out there, leave everything on the court!’, UJ nearly caused the biggest upset of this year’s tournament when they made Maties go the distance for their 58-53 victory.
Had UJ achieved the unthinkable, they would have sent Tuks packing and qualified for the semi-finals for the first time in the tournament’s history.
It certainly looked possible after the first quarter when the Johannesburg team led 12-11. Maties overtook them in the second quarter, 28-24, before cranking up the pace in the third quarter and building up a nine-goal lead. But UJ once again proved they are the queens of the Power Play, collecting six points from three goals to end the 15-minute period just three points behind (45-42).
It was the first time that Maties coach Zanele Mdodana was courtside to cheer on her team after spending the required time in isolation due to Covid-19. She would have been impressed by how well her team performed under pressure and forced the opposition into unnecessary errors. Once Maties found their rhythm, they managed to complete their passes and drive the ball through to the goal circle.
Maties’ solid defence also played a role in securing the victory. Goal keeper Syntiche Kabuya and goal defence Danielle van Nieuwenhuizen denied the UJ shooters clean ball and secured vital turnovers with several intercepts. Van Nieuwenhuizen was named FNB Player of the Match.
UJ were a team on a mission, and it is remarkable what Msomi has achieved by creating a competitive unit in a relatively short period of time. They have dished up exciting netball at high intensity throughout the tournament, and against the Maties it was no different.
In the end, they ran out of time, but give players like Monica Gomases, Cornelia Mupenda and Muhluri Hlatshwayo time to develop, and the results will come.
— Varsity Netball (@VarsityNetball) August 28, 2021
After sweating over the possibility of being eliminated from this year’s semi-finals, Tuks had no problem in beating bottom-of-the-log UWC 79-37.
It took them a few minutes to get going, but the Pretoria team led 19-11 after the first quarter. That grew to 41-18 at half-time and they stretched the lead even further after the third quarter (61-27).
UWC had no answer for Tuks in all departments, with both the defending champions’ attacking and defending players controlling the flow of play. Tuks continued to contest every ball, despite having a more than comfortable lead throughout the match.
With the semi-final against Maties looming, Tuks coach Jenny van Dyk gave the whole bench enough game time for what will undoubtedly be a tough encounter.
Hope Sibiya from Tuks was named FNB Player of the Match following her solid performance on defence.
NWU claimed an 70-41 victory over the Madibaz in the third match of the day. They were in front after each quarter – 21-7, 39-15 and 55-27.
It probably wasn’t NWU’s best performance, considering they started the tournament by beating Tuks. They gave away a lot of unnecessary penalties despite being in control for most of the match. As was the case in the other matches on Saturday, defence played a key role and it was no surprise that the FNB Player of the Match was also a defender, Chelize Swart from NWU.
The Madibaz looked flat and coach Lana Krige was limited in her options to make on-court changes to try and up the tempo. Whereas the other teams travelled to Stellenbosch with 14 players, the Madibaz arrived with just 12 and lost one to injury during the week.
A Kovsies victory against TUT in the last match of the league stage was a foregone conclusion. The Free State team won 73-40 and were in the lead after each quarter (27-15, 44-22 and 59-31).
Kovsies’ depth and experience proved too much for TUT. Coach Burta de Kock moved players into different positions without difficulty as the whole squad knows exactly how to execute the game plan. They are difficult to contend with as a unit, and on this occasion, it was TUT on the receiving end. Kovsies’ Elri Groenewald was named FNB Player of the Match.
TUT can take heart from the fact that they scored 40 points and have steadily improved throughout the tournament.
Round 7 Results:
UJ 53 – 58 Maties
FNB Player of the Match: Danielle van Nieuwenhuizen (Maties)
Tuks 79 – 37 UWC
FNB Player of the Match: Hope Sibiya (Tuks)
Madibaz 41–70 NWU Eagles
FNB Player of the Match: Chelize Swart (NWU)
Kovsies 73 – 40 TUT
FNB Player of the Match: Elri Groenewald (Kovsies)
Round 8 Fixtures (Sunday, 28 August):
TUT vs UWC (10:00)
UJ vs Madibaz (12:00)
Maties vs Tuks (14:00) – semi-final 1
Kovsies vs NWU Eagles (16:00) – semi-final 2
*All matches will be broadcast live on SuperSport Variety 4 (DStv channel 209)
Photo 1 Caption: Gaylinn Potts during the Varsity Netball match between Tuks and UWC at Coetzenburg Sports Centre in Stellenbosch on 28 August 2021. Photo: Varsity Sports
Copy and photo by Asem/Engage, with editing by gsport