Last Varsity Netball hurdle just too high for Maties

Kovsies overpower Maties in Varsity Netball final

Kovsies recorded a convincing 55-39 win against Maties in the 2021 Varsity Netball final at the Coetzenburg Indoor Centre on Monday 30 August.

It is Kovsies’ fourth title, following those in 2013, 2014 and 2018, and their biggest victory in a final. For Maties, it was a third defeat in a final having fallen short in 2015 and 2019.

Maties, on home turf and taking to court with war paint on their faces, went into the final as the only undefeated team in this year’s tournament, but they were up against the most successful team in the tournament’s history. And the Free State students showed them why, never veering from the game plan so carefully constructed by coach Burta de Kock.

Kovsies were on the front foot from the first whistle, putting pressure on every Maties centre pass and turning over possession that showed on the scoreboard. Khanyisa Chawane played a crucial role here, with good offloads into the circle for goal shooter Claudia van den Berg. This put them 11-10 in the lead after the first 15 minutes.

Maties started the second quarter having to play catchup for only the second time in the tournament and the pressure clearly showed. They weren’t able to protect their own ball and the errors started to creep in. They also couldn’t capitalise on the high penalty count from Kovsies, and slipped further behind at half-time, 23-20.

With her team looking comfortable and dictating play, De Kock stuck with the same seven players while Maties coach Zanele Mdodana rang the changes, trying to do something different to steer the match in a different direction. All to no avail, though, as nothing they threw at Kovsies threw them off track and the Free State team were still in front at the end of the third quarter, 34-30.

Maties pinned their hopes of a comeback on the Power Plays in the last quarter. But it was Kovsies who came out on top in both two-minute periods, stretching the lead even further and putting one hand on the trophy well before the final whistle.

There was no fairytale ending for Maties, while Kovsies proved that it doesn’t matter how a team starts a tough tournament like this, what matters is how it ends.

An elated De Kock praised her team for their monumental effort during the past week, saying they never stopped believing in themselves and gave it their all when it mattered the most.

Kovsies’ Khanyisa Chawane was named FNB Player of the Match, with Maties’ Nichole Taljaard named FNB Player of the Tournament.

In the earlier match, Tuks salvaged some pride when they beat NWU 62-48 in the third-place playoff. This after the Pretoria-based team and defending champions had been beaten by the same opponents on day one of the tournament.

Final:

Maties 39 – 55 Kovsies

FNB Player of the Match: Khanyisa Chawane (Kovsies)

Third place play-off:

NWU Eagles 48 – 62 Tuks

FNB Player of the Match: Danielle van Zyl (Tuks)

FNB Player of the Tournament: Nicholé Taljaard (Maties)

Nichole Taljaard during the Varsity Netball final match between Maties and Kovsies at Coetzenburg Sports Centre in Stellenbosch on 30 August, 2021
Nerine Koopman in action in the Varsity Netball finals against Kovsies yesterday.
Adri Uys controls the ball in the final of the Varsity Netball torunament at Coetzenburg The Maties lost to Kovsies in the final.
Nichole Taljaard, player of the tournament, with Maties coach Zanele Mdodana.

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