There was drama galore, upsets, and hearts broken on Saturday as Durban Girls’ College (DGC) claimed the top honours in the National Aquatics Festival, hosted by Maris Stella in Durban.
The opening day had seen the favourites, predictably, dominate the pool stages, but the scripts were flipped in the playoffs as the underdogs pulled off upsets.
To reach the final, DGC had to undertake a difficult challenge after finishing second in Pool A behind last year’s winners, St Stithians College.
In the playoffs, though, DGC was a different beast, thumping the hosts 20-8, before grinding out an 8-7 win over East London’s Clarendon in the semi-finals.
Their opponents in the final, St Mary’s Waverley, also pulled off a stunner, to book their place in the title-decider. They outlasted their Johannesburg neighbours, St Stithians, also by a single goal, winning 7-6.
The showdown for the silverware was an entertaining battle, with the teams going goal-for-goal until the final minute.
They were level at 3-3 after the first two chukkas and, somehow, both managed to score four goals in the second half to leave the scores level at 7-7 after the final whistle. It was the lottery of penalties that gave the KZN side the victory after a St Mary’s player missed from the spot.
The win saw DGC improve on the bronze medal they won in 2023, while St Mary’s also bettered their finish by two places after they ended fourth last year.
In other matches on the final day, St Mary’s DSG (Kloof) got one over Maris Stella in the fifth/sixth play-off, winning a tight contest by a 7-5 margin.
Clarendon ended their campaign on a satisfactory note, outlasting last year’s winners, Saints, 15-11 in a high-scoring third/fourth playoff match.
There were also wins for Our Lady of Fatima over Danville, while Durban Girls’ High defeated Pretoria High School for Girls to finish the tournament in seventh spot.
Results: Day 2
Durban Girls’College 22-1 Danville
St Stithians College 17-2 Durban High School
St Mary’s Waverley 15-3 St Mary’s DSG
Durban Girls’ College 20-8 Maris Stella
St Mary’s Waverley 7-6 St Stithians College
Durban Girls’ College 8-7 Clarendon
Clarendon High 15-11 St Stithians College
Durban Girls’ College 7 (11)-7 (9) St Mary’s Waverley
Maris Stella Pool
Pretoria High School for Girls 8-2 Our Lady of Fatima
Clarendon High School 15-1 Maris Stella
Pretoria High School for Girls 6-0 Danville
Our Lady of Fatima 11-0 Danville
Durban Girls’ High 5-2 Pretoria High School for Girls
St Mary’s DSG 7-5 Maris Stella
Durban Girls’ College
St Mary’s Waverley
Clarendon Girls’ High School
St Stithians College
St Mary’s DSG
Durban Girls’ High
Pretoria High School for Girls
Our Lady of Fatima
Danville Park Girls’ High
Avuyile Sawula is a multimedia sports journalist, broadcaster, and writer. He possesses a journalism qualification from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. During his time in the media industry, he has worked for various online media publications covering big matches and events across the country. He also has a broadcasting background having worked as a news journalist at one of Cape Town’s commercial radio stations. His reporting beats include hockey, rugby, water polo, and cricket. Apart from writing, he has a knack for creating sports content, and video editing.