The SPAR NMMU Madibaz got their Varsity Netball campaign off to a solid start with bonus points from both matches in the opening rounds in Stellenbosch on Sunday and Monday.
On Sunday, the Madibaz suffered a narrow 38-42 defeat to hosts Maties before trouncing UCT 55-23 on Monday night to claim maximum points for their first win.
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The team from Port Elizabeth are now third in the standings behind defending champions Kovsies, with USSA winners Tuks topping the log.
Madibaz head coach and former SPAR Proteas player Dumisane Chauke said her team had gotten off to a very good start.
“We set goals for each quarter and then ticked all the boxes. That’s how the girls have been able to sustain such a brilliant performance throughout the weekend.”
However, Chauke cautioned against overconfidence and setting the bar unrealistically high so early in the tournament.
“If we can keep the momentum going and only get better, then a top-four is definitely something on the horizon.
“But we don’t want to put any pressure on ourselves right now and just take it one game at a time.”
Chauke attributed the Maties loss to first game jitters and said the score line had not been an accurate reflection of how the match had played out.
“We were leading for most of the game. In the third quarter we had a lapse of concentration and that’s when they came back.”
Trailing by 10 goals at one point, the Madibaz fought back to within four points of the hosts.
“Had there been five more minutes in that game, we would be talking a different result right now,” said Chauke.
She said she was pleased by how the team had recovered against UCT to come out strong and lead from the first whistle.
“In the second game, the girls played as a unit from beginning to end.”
Chauke said the fact that Madibaz goal defence Nobubele Phuza and goal shooter Kara Willemse had walked away with the player of the match awards in the double-header was encouraging for the team.
“It shows that we have a very nice balance. You don’t want a very strong defence while the goals are not going in and you also don’t want a strong attacking circle but the balls are not being turned into an opportunity to shoot.”
She said it was impossible to play a perfect game but there were a few things they needed to fix in their defensive, centre court and goal circle play.
“Our next game is against VUT on Monday. We’re obviously going to try and chase the win and the bonus points again.
“And we’re going to be at home in front of our passionate Madibaz crowd. We’re looking forward to giving our supporters something to celebrate.”
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