Tuks overcame Wits in the battle of Gauteng to book their place in Varsity Hockey final with a close 3-2 victory at the NWU-Puk Astro turf on Monday night in Potchefstroom.
Anel Luus was one of the star players for Tuks in this semi-final and she underlined her class with a goal early on to give the Pretoria ladies a 2-0 lead. Tuks captain, Natalie Esteves was once again solid at the back and together with Marissa Poolman laid the defensive foundation.
Tuks were in control after the first chukka and Wits needed to up the intensity in order to get back into the game. Lezaan Janse van Vuuren and Nicole Smith tried their best to create chances, but Wits lacked the drive needed to break down Tuks’ defence. At half-time the score remained the same with Tuks going in with a narrow 2-0 lead.
The match was on a knife’s edge and Wits keeper Petro Stofberg made a number of outstanding saves to deny Tuks a further advantage as the clock continue to tick in Tuks’ favour. Wits’ Smith then got the important equaliser in the 40th minute of the match just inside the shooting circle to add more drama to the encounter at 2-2.
With one minute to go in the third chukka, Izelle Verster pushed the ball in from close range in a goal-mouth scramble from a penalty corner to make it 3-2 in Tuks’ favour. Verster continued to cause Wits problems from the righthand side of the field as Tuks continued to attack in the search for a larger advantage.
Wits were valiant in defence though as they kept Tuks at bay with a number of tremendous saves and defensive clearances under pressure. Londeka Dlamini and Gillian Robertson were especially good in these areas as they showed brilliant composure for Wits.
Wits seemed to have the momentum in the final five minutes of the match as they pushed hard for the winning goal. It was not to be though as Tuks grinded out for a precious win that puts then into a home final next week Monday on 22 May.
Mugg & Bean Star Saver: Petro Stofberg (Wits)
FNB Player of the Match: Izelle Verster (Tuks)
Goals: Anel Luus (Field Goal), Izelle Verster (Penalty Corner)
Goals: Nicole Smith (Field Goal)
Tuks: Marlise van Tonder, Marissa Poolman, Chané Hill, Anél Luus, Catherine Morris, Izalle Verster, Natalie Esteves, Luvolwethu Nkole, Claire Gibbings, Amy Etherington , Thandokazi Chithi
Subs: Melicia van Loggerenberg, Jénica De Encarnaçăo, Meeghan Scheffer, Danielle Kerdachi, Amoné Mouton, Mabongi Nyalungu
Wits: Tamsin Copeland, , Gillian Robertson, Sissy Pieterse, Nicky Veto, , Londeka Dlamini, Nompilo Thenjwayo, Nicole Smith, Amber Dry, Kelly Wrensch, Lezaan Janse van Vuuren, Vicky Jonker,
Subs: Petro Stofberg, Nolwazi Ngubane, Lelethu Ndakisa, Robyn Fyrie, Ash Readhead, Mandisa Sigudla, Jureya Dildar
By Wouter Pienaar