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So close yet so far for Pukke in Varsity Hockey

Maties are jubilant after overcoming a valiant Pukke side 3-2 in the Varsity Hockey semi-final played at the NWU-Puk Astroturf on Monday, 15 May.
Maties are jubilant after overcoming a valiant Pukke side 3-2 in the Varsity Hockey semi-final played at the NWU-Puk Astroturf on Monday, 15 May.

Only one goal and Maties’s Maroon Platoon stood in the way of a famous Varsity Hockey semi-final victory for NWU-Pukke on their home Astroturf with two minutes left on the bright red clock on Monday.
Tense cheering and desperate screams erupted in the cold atmosphere as spectators willed the Pukke ladies on with each breath, but the neon yellow ball just would not cross the goal-line against Maties. 3, 2, 1. Beep, now it was all over for Pukke as the hooter signalled a 3-2 defeat for Shaun Hulley’s team after a fantastic weekend of hockey action in Potchefstroom. Tuks beat Wits 3-2 in the other semi-final to book a home final against Maties at the Tuks Astro in Pretoria on Monday, 22 May. This will definitely be a cracker of a final between two skilled hockey teams.
Pukke can be happy with their effort in the tournament as a whole, though, having lost only twice against Maties and beating Tuks earlier on. The team played with vigour, determination and passion under the leadership of Jessica de Bruyn-Smith and Jocelle Deysel and was one of the most exciting sides to watch in Potch.
Pukke started the Potchefstroom leg of Varsity Hockey with a comprehensive 13-0 win over the NMMU-Madibaz before dispatching UKZN 8-0 and Kovsies 11-4. They then lost a tight match against Maties 3-2 but, according to the NWU-Pukke coach, Shaun Hulley, the match could have gone either way. ‘We never gave up and I am really proud of the girls for that. We were always able to turn it on when needed and our fitness showed this with quality hockey. We are definitely on the right track,’ he said. ‘Maties proved the importance of taking chances and that is what they did, with more composure. We needed to capitalise on every chance and finish the opportunities but that didn’t happen. That is how it goes, sometimes, and it was a good learning curve, although we obviously would’ve liked to be in the final next week.’ Hulley also praised Varsity Hockey and the facilities at the NWU-Puk Astroturf and believes these tournaments truly give hockey the opportunity to grow like never before. ‘This is such a professional tournament and is great for hockey in our country. It is exciting and the hockey was of a high standard for the entire week. It is a privilege to have been part of it.’
Pukke will now focus on the upcoming USSA tournament from 28 June – 4 July when they will look to defend their title.

  AUTHOR
Wouter Pienaar
Sport Journalist

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