Maties were crowned Varsity Hockey champions after they won an enthralling and tight battle with NWU-Pukke by the slimmest of margins on Monday night.
The crowd at the astro fields of the University of Pretoria was treated to a classic tug-of-war in which both teams gave their absolute all. It took 53 minutes before Maties’ Rosanne Lombard scored the only goal of the match, off a short corner, breaking Pukke hearts.
The team from Potchefstroom played with greater intensity and enjoyed the lion’s share of territory and possession, but they lost their nerve and patience whenever they entered the goal circle. This kept them off the scoresheet, despite the best efforts of the dangerous Sulette Damons, Stephanie Baxter and Celia Evans.
Maties’ big stars were Farah Fredericks – who was immense on both attack and defense – Quanita Bobbs and Ilse Davids. Despite seeing far less of the ball than the Pukke team, the Stellenbosch girls never stopped fighting and were well rewarded for their patience.
The result is a remarkable one, considering that Pukke suffered their first and only loss of the competition. Maties also ends the challenge with a single defeat, ironically in their very first match of the competition against Pukke. Since then they have gone from strength to strength.
Kovsies recovered from the disappointment of losing out on a place in the final by beating Tuks 1-0 in the playoff for third place. The home team started the match stronger, creating far more dangerous opportunities in the first period, but Kovsies started testing their defence more and more towards the end of the chukka, and remained the better attacking unit for the rest of the match.
The Bloemfontein side’s goal was scored late in the second chukka by Line Malan, after a period of sustained pressure on the Tuks defence.
UJ had too much skill and stamina for UCT and won 2-0 to take the fifth place in the competition. Neither side could hold on to the ball for long periods of time, making for a scrappy match in which possession changed hands far too often.
The Johannesburg side took the advantage when Louise Coertzen scored from the penalty spot, before Nika Nel ensured the victory from broken play.
NMMU took seventh place thanks to a 2-0 victory over Wits.
7th/8th place playoff: NMMU 2, Wits 0.
5th/6th place playoff: UJ 2, UCT 0.
3rd/4th place playoff: Kovsies 1, Tuks 0.
Final: Maties 1, Pukke 0.