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Ken Borland



More tough roads for SA hockey 2

Posted on July 14, 2017 by Ken

 

South African hockey has travelled some tough roads in the last 20 years, but few defeats have been more dismaying than the one their women’s team suffered at the hands of Chile in their Hockey World League Semifinal at the Wits Astro on Friday.

South Africa are ranked seven places higher than Chile in the world rankings and, given how well they played in their previous game, pushing South American giants Argentina all the way, there was plenty of expectation that the home side would beat Chile and seal their place in the quarterfinals.

Alas, the only goal was scored by Chile and the 1-0 defeat now means South Africa have to beat the USA, ranked sixth in the world, on Sunday to qualify for the knockout round.

South Africa began the game by doing some nice things on attack, but too many moves broke down due to basic errors and they struggled to get sufficient numbers through the circle, all their entries into the D only bringing one short-corner the whole match.

Chile were strong in midfield through the skilful duo of Agustina Venegas and Manuela Urroz, and they earned several short-corners. Goalkeeper Phumelela Mbande was forced to make a couple of good saves and Lisa-Marie Deetlefs also blocked and cleared a dangerous penalty corner.

A fine tackle by Quanita Bobbs and a good run by Candice Manuel set up South Africa’s short-corner just before the end of the first quarter, but the variation to the pusher was not accurate enough and the chance went begging.

At halftime the match was still goalless, a flat South African team seemingly not having the drive to outwork a committed Chile side.

Given all the short-corners Chile were getting, it was always likely they were going to score and it was Urroz who slid in and managed to get her stick to the ball to deflect in what turned out to be the winning goal just two minutes into the second half.

The sluggish home side continued to labour until just before the end of the third quarter, when Tarryn Glasby found a bit of space and fired in a strong shot, but Chile goalkeeper Claudia Schuler managed to get some equipment in the way.

South Africa belatedly raised their tempo in the final chukka, but it was too late by then. It summed up their match when, five minutes from time, the ball bobbled in front of the open goalmouth to Bernie Coston, but the seasoned striker could not scramble it home.

“At the end of the game we saw some movement and passes going forward, but it was too late by then to start playing combination hockey,” coach Sheldon Rostron complained.

“We didn’t have enough go-forward ability, you can’t just keep defending. We weren’t potent enough on attack. The approach of the team has to be better, sometimes it’s easier against the bigger teams because there’s not as much expectation. But against the teams ranked below you, you have to make sure you go out and perform, it’s about consistency. It’s about execution and we have to make sure it all comes together against the USA,” Rostron said.

The most alarming aspect of the South African performance was the lack of movement off the ball. The ball-carrier had far too few passing options and this stunted the attack, allowing the Chile defence to swarm around the circle and make it very hard for the home side to find a way through.

That’s awful, Bulls! 0

Posted on March 27, 2017 by Ken

 

The Bulls started their overseas tour with a parlous 38-14 defeat at the hands of the Blues in Albany on Saturday, a loss and awful performance that’s going to cause questions to be asked about the team’s coaching and management.

The Bulls were level 7-7 at halftime, having already conceded seven penalties, made numerous handling errors and looked out-of-sync on attack, but that’s as good as it got for the tourists as the second half saw them totally disintegrate as the Blues added five more tries to earn a bonus point.

Replacement scrumhalf Rudy Paige was given a consolation try after the final hooter, having not grounded the ball but probably deserving a penalty try anyway, but the Bulls had been goners long before that.

The Bulls started brightly enough with a promising attack in the Blues’ 22, but referee Nic Berry ended it with a harsh obstruction call. The home side’s backline was gone in a flash, roaring up the left side of the field and some superb handling and offloads by fullback Michael Collins and wing Melani Nanai saw scrumhalf Augustine Pulu scooting over the line for the opening try, in the third minute.

The Bulls would be back on level terms after 17 minutes as they earned a ruck penalty, flyhalf Handre Pollard’s super kick set up a lineout in the corner and prop Lizo Gqoboka burrowed over for a try after the driving maul.

There would be further opportunities for the Bulls in the first half, but they were ponderous with turnover ball and their dire handling meant errors interrupted just about every attack after a few phases.

The second half would be the same story, only worse, as the Blues quickly seized control of the game.

An early attack by the Bulls came to nothing as nobody seemed to know who was meant to clean, be a pillar or play halfback at a ruck, and Pollard then missed a tackle on Collins, allowing a lovely offload to wing Matt Duffie, who went through a poor tackle by opposite number Jamba Ulengo to score the second try, also converted by flyhalf Piers Francis.

The most astonishing example of clueless play by the Bulls came in the 56th minute. Lock Lood de Jager did well to steal the ball at a five-metre lineout, but at the resulting ruck, scrumhalf Piet van Zyl went to play pillar and replacement flank Jannes Kirsten cleared the ball, making the awful decision to feed a pod inside his own in-goal area. That conceded a five-metre scrum, from which Francis’s pinpoint kick-pass across the field was claimed by Duffie for his second try.

It didn’t even help the Bulls when Blues flank Jimmy Tupou was temporarily sent from the field for a neck roll. Pollard was replaced on the hour mark in what was apparently a scheduled change, but new flyhalf Tian Schoeman was unable to find touch from a scrum penalty the Bulls earned.

Soon thereafter, Ulengo burst out of defensive alignment like a crazed shopper going after Black Friday sales, and the Blues’ replacement flyhalf, Ihaia West, knifed through to score.

The Blues were 24-7 up and continued to boss the game as one was left with the nagging impression that the Bulls ran out of legs.

The home side were able to hang on to the ball through numerous phases because of their impressive handling skills, with outside centre Rieko Ioane making his presence felt with a couple of great runs, going from one side of the field to the other before replacement hooker Matt Moulds ended the attack by going over in the corner.

West had barely kicked the conversion for a 31-7 lead when he was bursting through the line again, with the Bulls defence far too narrow, creating acres of space out wide for Nanai to go roaring through for a dazzling try.

The Bulls did get the final points as they earned a free kick at a scrum under the poles and Paige, who should have come on earlier for a hesitant Van Zyl, went on his own to score their second try.

While most pundits expected the Bulls to lose, nobody expected such a dismal display from them and they have a lot of introspection ahead of them this week before facing the mighty Chiefs.

Scorers

BluesTries: Augustine Pulu, Matt Duffie (2), Ihaia West, Matt Moulds, Melani Nanai. Conversions: Piers Francis (2), West (2).

BullsTries: Lizo Gqoboka, Rudy Paige. Conversions: Handre Pollard, Tian Schoeman.

 

 

Titanic clash as Bulls search for revenge for opening-weekend hammering 0

Posted on June 27, 2016 by Ken

 

The Bulls and the Stormers are the two leading sides in the South African SuperRugby Conference and are age-old rivals, so it will be a titanic clash when they meet at Newlands on Saturday, with the Bulls expecting a ferocious contest up front as they go in search of revenge for the 29-17 hammering they suffered at the hands of the Capetonians at Loftus Versfeld on the opening weekend of the season.

“It’s going to be another tough South African derby and it’s nice that it’s such an important game. They came here and won and hopefully we can do the same down there. It’s important that we play for the full 80 minutes, we have to be consistent and use our opportunities well,” Bulls captain Pierre Spies said in Pretoria this week.

“The Stormers are very direct, they work hard on the gain-line and the game is going to be decided up front, whoever can get a solid base up there will be on the front foot. The gain-line is going to be crucial because that’s where the penalties and the line-breaks happen. And the team that keeps their discipline best normally comes out on top,” coach Frans Ludeke added.

Apart from the SA Conference lead being up for grabs, what makes the match so mouthwatering are the head-to-head clashes in this World Cup year – Marcel van der Merwe v Steven Kitshoff, Flip van der Merwe v Eben Etzebeth, Spies v Duane Vermeulen, Jan Serfontein v Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel v Cheslin Kolbe.

“Those will definitely spice up the game, even though we’re not thinking about the World Cup now. It’s always there though in the background and this might be the last time we play each other before then. We don’t try to get involved in personal battles, but the media sets the table for us, it’s always there,” Spies said.

The Bulls and the Stormers are also like peas in a pod in the way they have evolved since that opening encounter on Valentine’s Day.

As Stormers’ coach Allister Coetzee pointed out this week, Jesse Kriel has started in place of Jurgen Visser at fullback since then and has changed the shape of the Bulls’ attack.

The Bulls’ scrum is also likely to be a harder nut to crack than it was that day at Loftus Versfeld, with the two Van der Merwe’s back and Trevor Nyakane full of confidence and ready to come off the bench and make an impact.

“We lost Werner Kruger in the first three minutes of that game and Trevor was thrown into the deep end at tighthead. But I felt we finished the scrums well, we battled through. But that game is in the past, we’ve improved a lot and we are definitely a different side compared to then. A lot of players have come back from injury and we definitely have a more all-round game,” Ludeke said.

The Stormers have switched to a more pragmatic approach after three successive losses to New Zealand teams, being more patient in terms and when and where to attack and it has borne fruit with victories over the Waratahs and the Force on tour.

But for all the backline brilliance both teams will bring to Newlands, the real battle will be underground in the trenches up front.

 

Bulls give Reds another Loftus hiding 0

Posted on June 08, 2016 by Ken

The Reds must be heartily sick of the view from behind the Loftus Versfeld goalposts as they succumbed to another heavy defeat there at the hands of the Vodacom Bulls on Saturday night, conceding six tries in a 43-22 defeat.

It was the Reds’ sixth successive loss in Pretoria and they have now conceded exactly 300 points in those games.

The Bulls are now top of the SuperRugby South African Conference, two points ahead of the Stormers, three points ahead of the Lions and four in front of the Sharks, with a game in hand over both of those last two sides, so they must be heading towards their overseas tour with confidence building.

Fullback Jesse Kriel must be in contention as a World Cup bolter later this year, featuring strongly in the tournament rankings for defenders beaten, carries and metres gained, and he was outstanding in all facets of his game on Saturday night, attacking with vigour from the back, kicking well and defending stoutly.

It was Kriel who set the Bulls on their way in the eighth minute as, following a Jacques-Louis Potgieter penalty four minutes earlier, he sped away from his own 22 after gathering an attempted grubber that had been deflected by wing Francois Hougaard.

Kriel ran all the way to the Reds’ 22 before passing inside to Hougaard, who had enough strength to carry a tackler over the line for the opening try.

The first half was dominated by the Bulls’ successful tactic of bombarding the Reds with high kicks, but it was nevertheless exciting viewing and the second half opened up into a try bonanza.

The Reds deserve to be included in any praise for the spectacle as they played with plenty of ambition, especially in the second half, and they showed their intent with their fine opening try in the 16th minute.

Flyhalf Nick Frisby attacked the line, chipped over and then re-gathered, before sending a long pass out to wing Lachie Turner to race away and score.

But aerial warfare was the name of the game for the Bulls in the first half and they quickly replied with their second try, eighthman Pierre Spies storming on to the ball after Turner had failed to gather a Kriel kick, the Bulls captain roaring over from 30 metres out.

The Reds actually had more possession than the Bulls in the first half, but the home side put in some tremendous hits as their aggressive defence continually pushed the Queenslanders back. Five minutes before the break, Hougaard stole the ball from prop James Slipper and was off for a 60-metre try that gave the Bulls a commanding 24-5 halftime lead.

The home side went into their shells a bit at the start of the second half and the Reds never hid their belief they could get back into the contest. And they did just that with two tries in three minutes closing the gap to 24-17.

Scrumhalf Will Genia was the spark as he scampered over from 20 metres out with a lovely run off a scrum and then placed a lovely dab through with the boot for Frisby to dash on to and score. The Reds had been put on attack by a powerful run by outside centre Samu Kerevi, and the 21-year-old Fijian then set up the visitors’ bonus-point try in the 59th minute with a breathtaking burst from his own 10-metre line. He powered on to a pop pass and then through half-a-dozen defenders before being stopped by Kriel just short of the line, replacement lock Marco Kotze being on hand to pick up and score.

But by then the Bulls had secured their own bonus-point try, replacement prop Marcel van der Merwe driving strongly off a rolling maul to score, eighthman Adam Thomson having just been yellow-carded for collapsing the previous maul.

It was a telling moment and, despite Kerevi’s magic, the Reds faded away at the end and conceded two more tries.

First Burger Odendaal produced an exceptional run from 30 metres out to power over the line and then another exciting run by Hougaard was stopped just short of the line, replacement scrumhalf Piet van Zyl then throwing a dummy and ducking over to score.

If Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has a natter with Frans Ludeke over the phone on Sunday then the Bulls coach can report back on a strong showing by Hougaard on the wing, another fine performance from tighthead prop Trevor Nyakane, and the continued growth of an exciting talent in Kriel.

But it was also pleasing to see loosehead prop Dean Greyling put in a number of massive hits and Spies did numerous good things around the park.

Scorers

Bulls – Tries: Francois Hougaard (2), Pierre Spies, Marcel van der Merwe, Burger Odendaal, Piet van Zyl. Conversions: Jacques-Louis Potgieter (3), Tian Schoeman (2). Penalty: Potgieter.

Reds – Tries: Lachie Turner, Will Genia, Nick Frisby, Marco Kotze. Conversion: Turner.

http://citizen.co.za/361081/bulls-give-reds-another-loftus-hiding/



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