The FNB NMMU-Madibaz squad fought to the final whistle in the fifth round of the FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International in Port Elizabeth on Monday night.
Despite ultimately going down by a two-point margin to FNB Shimlas (23-21), the hosts showed an encouraging fightback and improved performance after a string of recent losses.
The home side put in a determined effort to hold the former log leaders at bay, with the outcome looking like a certain draw until the dying seconds of the game.
Despite marking the Madibaz’s fourth loss of the tournament, head coach David Maidza was in positive spirits after the match.
“We implemented the strategies we had been working on all week, and it was good to see the team working together to improve,” he said.
Maidza said there was definitely a big improvement in the NMMU team’s performance this week, especially when considering how close the result had been against one of the top teams this season.
He said the effort his team had been putting in to minimise their errors had paid off on the night.
“The best part about Monday’s match was that we stuck exactly to how we practised playing the game.
“We stayed out of our own half for much of the game. We were attacking in the Shimlas’ half, instead of defending in our own all match,” said Maidza.
“The effort has been there all along, except for the accuracy, and I think on Monday we were a bit more accurate with what we wanted to achieve in our game plan.”
According to Maidza, one of the key qualities that shone through on Monday night was the players’ willingness to learn.
“Although we weren’t close enough to finish them off, it is all part and parcel of growing as a young group and we will keep on learning.
“I think we have now learnt the steps that we need to be taking to move forward in the next game,” he said.
Maidza said the team would also reflect on where they had gone wrong and keep working on that.
“We still need to improve on what we did on Monday night and I believe that we can,” he said.
The Madibaz face tough opposition in the penultimate fixture of the round-robin portion of the tournament when they take on FNB Maties at the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch at 6.30pm on March 16.
In Monday’s curtain-raiser, the FNB NMMU’s Young Guns squad claimed a stellar 44-0 victory over the FNB CUT Young Guns at the NMMU-Madibaz Stadium.
The home team secured a hard-fought second win in as many matches to put them third on the 2015 Varsity Cup Young Guns log behind second-placed FNB Tuks and log leaders UFS.
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FNB NMMU-Madibaz’s Jarryd Buys (left), Ivan Ludick (centre) and Michael Bernardt fought to the finish during their FNB Varsity Cup showdown with FNB Shimlas in Port Elizabeth on Monday night. Photo: Michael Sheehan/Saspa
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