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A steep start for UJ in 2023 FNB Varsity Netball tournament

The Senior Women’s Netball Team of the University of Johannesburg (UJ) met tough competitors in the opening two games of the first weekend of the 2023 FNB Varsity Netball tournament at Wits University’s Sports Hall. The UJ Ladies Netball Team narrowly lost 53-58 to the University of Pretoria (UP-Tuks) and 43-47 to North West University (NWU-Eagles) on Sunday, 20 and Monday, 21 August 2023.

The Orange Army opened the first quarter with quick goals against UP-Tuks through Muhluri Hlatshwayo and Owethu Ngubane. UJ was 14-10 up at the end of the first quarter.

Boitumelo Mahloko vs UP-Tuks at Wits Sports Hall
Boitumelo Mahloko vs UP-Tuks at Wits Sports Hall

In the second quarter, the UJ Ladies committed a few ball-handling errors and missed goals scoring opportunities with UP-Tuks making crucial interceptions. The two teams continued scoring back-to-back, separated by just a point with a 27-26 scoreline at the halftime break. In the second quarter, UJ scored four points during UP-Tuks’ powerplay, with UP-Tuks managing to add just two points.

Both teams continued to go pound for pound in the third quarter, with much of the goals scored from 1-pointers. While Hlatshwayo and Ngubane played a phenomenal role in scoring points and Boitumelo Mahloko’s solid defense at the back kept UJ in the game, UP-Tuks opened a gap on the scoreboard reaching a 40-point mark with UJ still at 33 goals in the third quarter.

The first game ended in UP-Tuks’ favour with a final score of 57-53. UJ gained a bonus point for losing the match by less than seven points. UJ Captain, Cornelia Mupenda was named Player of the Match (R1,500 cash prize) for her sterling performance in the match.

In Day 2 at the same venue, the Orange Army was aiming for a win when they played the 2022 runners-up NWU-Eagles. The match started with a high tempo as both teams scored points and made crucial turnovers. The highly contested encounter was played with speed and agility, with the first quarter ending with a 10-09 score in favour of the North West University Ladies.

Cornelia Mupenda
Cornelia Mupenda

The UJ and NWU-Eagles contest felt like a knockout game; UJ was fighting for their first win of the tournament while NWU was looking for their second straight win after defeating UWC on Sunday. In the second and third quarters, NWU continued to lead marginally on the score board with 23-20 and 37-32 points, respectively. UJ raised their momentum, scoring four points in powerplay halfway through the last quarter, but NWU was still ahead as they also sank in two points during UJ’s powerplay.

At the end of the match, UJ had suffered two consecutive defeats. NWU-Eagles registered their second win of the tournament with a final score of 47-43. The Orange Army gained another bonus point by losing with less than seven points.

UJ will be aiming for a change of results in the upcoming three fixtures on the second weekend of the tournament at the UJ Soweto Netball Courts when they take on Nelson Mandela University (NMU-Madibaz), the University of Free State (UFS-Kovsies) and Wits University on Saturday 26th, Sunday 27th and Monday 28th of August 2023.

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