The North-West University played the patient game until the final moments of the match, to sneak in a Power Play goal which saw them pip the University of the Witwaterstrand 8-7 in the opening match of the second weekend of Varsity Hockey at the Tuks Astro.
Both teams tried to find each other’s weaknesses in the first quarter but it was Wits who opened their account first as Brandon James netted a penalty stroke in the ninth minute. NWU struck back almost immediately as a short corner was converted by Pierre Bothma to level the scores and another by Bothma saw the men from Potchefstroom take the lead.
The players threw everything into the final minutes of the first quarter as play moved up and down the astro but it was Wits who levelled matters courtesy of James. The teams struggled to break the defence in the second quarter but the action did not wither as they pushed each other hard throughout the match.
NWU’s Sinoxolo Mbekeni broke the deadlock with an excellent field goal as he took a crack at the ball that sailed into the net which NWU defended until halftime.
Wits, in what became the theme of the opening match of second leg of Varsity Hockey, made it a level playing field shortly after the match resumed as they sunk a field goal. The seesaw match continued with Pretoria providing perfect playing conditions.
Wits converted a field goal and nailed a shot from a short corner to take back the lead in the dying minutes of the third quarter.
The final 15 minutes of what can only be described as a pulsating Varsity Hockey match was dominated by strong running and effective defending that shut out any scoring opportunities for both teams. NWU would have the final say of the match as they made good use of their Power Play as they scored through Snyman Thessner in the last 10 seconds to clinch the match 8-7.
Goals: Pierre Bothma (2), Sinoxolo Mbekeni, Snyman Thessner (2)
Goals: Brandon James (3), Kingsley Botes, Sean Donaldson
FNB Player of the Match: Sinoxolo Mbekeni
Mugg & Bean Star Player: Brandon James
Samsung Super Striker: Andrew Oosthuizen
NWU: 5. Leonard du Plessis, 6. Anru Kock, 7. Gertjie Lamprecht (c), 10. Sinoxolo Mbekeni (c), 11. Francois Cilliers, 12. Damian Tamine, 14. Mitesh Makan, 18. Pierre Bothma, 20. Stean Naude, 21. Siyabonga Mabo, Mthokoza Mbotho (GK).
Subs: 1. Andrew Oosthuizen (GK), 3. Lochner van der Schyff, 9. Killian Ludick, 13. Francois Joubert, 15. Snyman Thessner, 17. Damian Kenny, 23. Clayton Tait.
Wits: 1. Duncan Fischer (GK), 4. Cody van Wyk, 6. Brandon James, 7. Michael Marki (c), 8. Jaryd Thomas, 10. Thabang Modise, 12. Chad Futcher, 14. Sean Donaldson, 15. Michael Horan, 18. Kamal Ramburuth-Hurt, 19. Kingsley Botes.
Subs: 2. Gareth Riley, 5. Brad Riley, 11. Chris Makaba, 13. Bryce Cressy, 17. Rusten Abrahams, 20. John Henning, 23. Sizwe Nyandeni (GK).
By Dan Lombard