THE University of Johannesburg (UJ) emerged as the inaugural Varsity Cup men’s hockey champions when they shaded Stellenbosch (Maties) in the final at the weekend.
After three weeks of intense competition, it came down to a penalty shootout which UJ clinched to the delight of their home fans.
The NMMU Madibaz proved highly competitive throughout the event and will probably be a little disappointed with their sixth-place finish.
They produced their least convincing performances on the final weekend, going down 4-0 to Pretoria and then losing 2-1 to UCT in the playoff for fifth place.
Earlier, they had beaten the Cape Town side 5-0 in the league phase of the competition.
Rhodes were involved in the battle for the wooden spoon with Wits and showed their fighting qualities as the game ended 2-2.
While the competition was tough, both the Madibaz and Rhodes teams will be better for the experience in a tournament which has given many players exposure on a wider stage.
The final produced superb hockey from both sides, with the teams equally determined to be crowned champions.
After a dominant start by Maties, which saw the Stellenbosch side take a 2-0 lead, UJ bounced back in front of screaming home fans to reach an even 2-2 in the third and final chukka of the evening.
With the score still deadlocked at 2-2 by the end of the final chukka, the final came down to a heart-pounding penalty shootout.
The first to score was UJ’s Clint Panther and when Mark Fourie’s effort went wide, UJ were 1-0 up, with Taylor Dart’s goal sealing the win for the Gauteng varsity.