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UJ registers three wins at home in 2023 FNB Varsity Netball tournament

The Senior Women’s Netball Team of the University of Johannesburg (UJ) has turned around their losses, winning three consecutive home games in the 2023 FNB Varsity Tournament at the Soweto Campus. The Orange Army now has three wins and two losses in the tournament.

UJ defeated the Nelson Mandela University (NMU-Madibaz) 60-35 on Saturday 26th and the University of Free State (UFS-Kovsies) 40-37 on Sunday 27th as well as Wits University ladies 61-34 at the Imbizo Hall on Monday, 28 August 2023.

The Orange Army is now in 3rd position on the log after five games played. The University of Pretoria (UP-Tuks) and North West University (NWU) teams have not yet tasted defeat in the tournament, sitting in first and second positions with 20 points each, respectively.

In the UJ and MADIBAZ game, both teams engaged in a fierce contest as they competed for a top 4 spot in the Varsity Netball tournament. The UJ win against the MADIBAZ renewed their energy going into the Sunday and Monday matches.

In the UJ-UFS game, the hosts were first on the scoreboard. UJ built on their opening momentum, calling for a powerplay, and instead, the UFS ladies utilised it to sink four points without UJ’s response. Muhluri Hlatshwayo continued scoring goals for UJ to keep the team in the game. The opening quarter closed with a 10-09 score in favour of UJ.

UJ started the second quarter with energy, extending their lead through Hlatshwayo’s composure in the circle who managed to slot in many goals though under pressure from the UFS defence and UJ’s long passes to her. UJ had an impressive goal percentage of  83% and UFS with 70 in the second. The score sat at 22-16 at the halftime break.

UFS scored more goals than UJ in the 3rd quarter. However, UJ retained their lead with 29-24 over UFS at the end of the third quarter. It was a nail-biting encounter in the last quarter as the goal difference between UJ and UFS was marginal. Mupenda and Mahloko continued to keep UFS at bay with their defensive prowess.

UJ-Netball-vs-Wits-University-Ladies

UJ kept a 5 / 6 points difference throughout the second, third and fourth quarters. The visitors (UFS) also did not take their foot off the pedal, edging closer to catch up with the UJ score. UFS called for a strategic powerplay, sinking four points. UJ also scored four goals. The score went to 39-35 in favour of UJ with under 2 minutes to play.

At the full-time whistle, only 3 points separated the two teams. It was Owethu Ngubane’s interception and pass to Hlatshayi that ensured that UJ closed the game with a 40-36 final score.

Having been in suspense throughout the match, Coach Bongiwe Msomi exhaled a sigh of relief as the umpire blew the full-time whistle.

This is what Msomi said after the game, “We had to use our home advantage, I told the girls they have to be dominant. You don’t let someone come into your house and do as they please. We had to look where it’s best to bring Sammy (Ngubane) in because I could see her shortcomings early in the game, and I’m glad we managed to pull this one through.”

In the Wits-UJ game, UJ’s winning mentality kicked in early in the first quarter leading 24-05 at the end of the first quarter. This was the first game in which UJ scored quick points to pass the 20-point mark in the opening quarter of a game.

The first quarter saw UJ call for a powerplay and scoring six points to make it 19-4 without a response from Wits. Wits seemed to have gotten better in the second quarter, scoring a few more points. However, UJ extended their lead through Hlatshwayo to make it 37 – 15 at halftime.

The score went up to 52 – 25 in favour of UJ at the end of the third quarter. With UJ leading by more than 25 points in the third quarter, Wits called for a powerplay but nothing materialised.

Ngubane and Hlatshwayo’s combination upfront worked wonders for UJ, in addition to the game-changing contributions from the rest of the team players. Boitumelo Mahloko and Cornelia Mupenda’s combination at the back was solid. Zené de Waal replaced Hlatshway as a Goal Shooter in the last quarter. Yanke Broodryk won Player of the Match in the UJ-UFS game while Mahloko won the same award in the Wits-UJ game.

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