Tuks are the 2019 Varsity Netball champions, and became the first team to do so unbeaten throughout, after beating Maties 48-43 in a tense affair at their Rembrandt Hall.
With Tshina Mdau, playing her last ever Varsity Netball match (and record-breaking fifth final), winning the toss Tuks got the 2019 final underway with the first centre pass. As it happened the opening quarter was a measured affair with both teams having their nervy moments resulting in missed attempts at goal, unnecessary turnovers and uncharacteristic errors.
Venetia Grobler got the scoring going and nabbed three goals before Maties got themselves on the board through Sian Moore and captain Nicholé Taljaard to level at 3-3. An exchange of goals followed before Tuks rattled off seven unanswered goals – on the back of a Jasmine Ziegelmeier steal – to lead 11-4 with five minutes left. Maties’ Moore then replied with three goals on the trot, before the quarter closed with ‘goal for you, goal for me’ for Tuks to be up 14-10 at the whistle.
Maties coach Zanele Mdodana made the first change of the match to start the second quarter when Nicola Smith replaced Stephanie Brandt at Goal Keeper and it proved inspired. Even more so when they made full use of their centre pass to score four goals without reply to level matters at 14-14. An exchange of two goals apiece followed before Tuks’ attack improved their poor goal percentage to take the score to 20-16 and then 22-17 when their coach Jenny van Dyk called their Power Play. Maties benefitted when Tuks turned the ball over, and the Maroon Machine picked up two double-pointers and the score read 22-21. In the closing stages of the half Maties took the lead and went into the change room 24-23 up.
The champion quarter was always going to be a key 15 minutes of the match and so it proved. Maties – for who Caleigh Stuart replaced Sasha-Lee Petersen at Wing Defence – lost the ball from their centre pass which allowed Grobler to score twice to hand Tuks the lead again. Sian Moore returned the favour with three goals before Grobler then scored four in a row to leave matters at 29-27. Not long after Mdodana made more changes with Carla Werth replacing Adri Uys but taking Jo Prins’ Centre bib. Prins took Uys’ Wing Attack bib. In the aftermath the score progressed to 31-32 when Mdodana called Maties’ Power Play with two minutes left. As it happened threw a rushed centre pass to loss possession and Danielle van Zyl (who replaced Swart at the start of the quarter) scored two double-pointers to Moore’s one. As a result, the score read 35-34 at the close of the quarter.
Only 15 minutes remained and it proved to be a tense affair where critical umpiring calls, and nervous player errors proved decisive. Maties – who had Petersen back on at Wing Defence and Claudia Jarrard coming on at Goal Shooter to give Moore a breather – initially took the initiative with Jarrard scoring three of the four goals on the bounce (38-35 to them). Smith played her role with a crucial turnover during that run. A sequence of two goals per team followed for the score to read 39-40, when a crucial time call went against Taljaard as she landed a goal. It was now six minutes left and Moore came back on for Maties but Tuks – decisively – scored four goals on the trot to lead 43-40. Maties dragged it back to 44-43 with 01:20 left when they threw a centre pass astray and the all hope of a first title disappeared. Grobler buried four goals in the closing stages to add gloss to a victory that could just as easily have gone the other way.
FNB Player of the Match: Khomotso Mamburu (Maties)
Wimpy Moment Maker: Lungile Mthembu (Tuks)
MTN Pulse Interceptor of the Match: Nicola Smith (Maties)
Tuks: 5 Marlize de Bruin (vice-captain), 16 Anique Grobler, 13 Venetia Grobler, 8 Akosua Mensah, 7 Lungile Mthembu, 12 Tracey Mthunzi, 2 Tshina Mdau (captain), 1 Mbali Ntuli, 4 Chantelle Swart, 3 Jamie van Wyk, 6 Danielle van Zyl, 11 Jasmine Ziegelmeier.
Coach: Jenny van Dyk
Maties: 12 Stephanie Brandt, 3 Claudia Jarrard, 11 Khomotso Mamburu, 4 Chrisley Marshall, 1 Sian Moore, 10 Sasha-Lee Petersen, 8 Jo Prins, 13 Nicola Smith, 9 Caleigh Stuart, 2 Nicholé Taljaard (captain), 6 Adri Uys, 5 Carla Werth.
Coach: Zanele Mdodana