Undefeated throughout the tournament, Maties are the 2022 Varsity Netball champions after running out 68-55 victors over NWU in this year’s final in front of an enthusiastic home crowd in Stellenbosch.
It was a case of fourth time lucky for the Maroon Machine after making it to the final two on three previous occasions. The Eagles are returning to Potchefstroom without their third title, after winning the competition in 2015 and 2016. Maties have now managed to clip the Eagles’ wings in their last five Varsity Netball meetings.
It was a tight defensive game with Maties’ Syntiche Kabuya making life very difficult for Elmeré van den Bergh in the Eagle’s goal circle. And to add insult to injury, Maties took their power play five minutes into the game and raced to a 10-2 lead, making it very clear they are here to win their first Varsity Netball title, and deny NWU their third crown.
After a slow start, the Eagles got some wind underneath their wings to draw level 15-all as the first 15 minutes closed out.
The Maroon Machine steam-rolled their opponents in the second quarter, with the dynamic duo of Kabuya and Nicola Smith not giving the Eagles shooters any breathing space. NWU also started making some errors on defence that the Maties capitalised on with centre Shanidine Bezuidenhout pouncing on every loose ball.
The all-important championship quarter was ultimately where the Maties took the game away from their opponents. The introduction of Nichole Taljaard was key, with the Maties’ goal attack immediately making her presence known and stamping her authority with lighting fast feet and hands. Sian Moore kept on marshalling her troops from the back, continuously waving her finger for “one more, one more!” while she kept the scoreboard ticking over for Maties.
Not even NWU’s power play with four minutes to go could prevent the inevitable and make the Maties the undisputed champions of the 2022 Varsity Netball tournament.
Sian Moore (Maties captain): “Things started very fast and we got a little bit complacent towards the end of the first quarter. Then we switched it up in the second and third quarters, realising we worked too hard for this to not go all out. The girls did well and I’m so proud of them.”
Zanele Mdodana (Maties coach): “I still can’t believe it, I’m at a loss for words. We’ve been building up to this moment, the hard work that’s gone in, year in, year out. We knew today was our day and I can’t thank my girls enough, they completely blew me away!”
Nicolene van Heerden (NWU captain): “We made too many mistakes today, and things didn’t go our way. I learned so much from this team, and it was a privilege to play with them.”
Quarter scores: 15-15| 33-22 | 53-35 | 68-54
Player of the match: Sian Moore (Maties)
Player of the tournament: Elmeré van den Bergh (NWU)