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Ken Borland



Keeping aggressive attitude leads to untroubled win for Shubhankar 0

Posted on December 14, 2017 by Ken

 

Shubhankar Sharma, the winner of the weather-disrupted Joburg Open at Randpark Golf Club on Monday, said he worked hard on keeping an aggressive attitude on the course and, as a consequence, the rising Indian star never looked in trouble as he sealed a three-shot victory on 23-under-par.

The tri-sanctioned tournament had to be completed on Monday morning due to the fourth afternoon being almost entirely washed out, and it made for an anxious wait for Shubhankar, who led by four shots overnight.

“I obviously did not sleep last night, I woke up four times, every couple of hours, because it was raining so hard. There were a lot of nerves beforehand, absolutely, because if you are chasing then you have nothing to lose, but if you are leading then you can only maintain that.

“But I was really calm once I got going, I just stuck to my game-plan and kept saying to myself to be aggressive, I never wanted to defend my lead. I set myself a target of finishing 25-under, but 23-under will do. I just kept imagining that I was three shots back,” Shubhankar said after his first victory outside of India.

As impeccable as his golf was – the accuracy of Shubhankar’s driving was particularly impressive – the standout feature of the 21-year-old’s tournament was his composure and he obviously has a very good head on his shoulders, showing maturity beyond his years.

While having one of the hottest putters in the 240-man field obviously helped a great deal in accumulating 26 birdies over the week, the absence of bogeys in his last three rounds is what pleased Shubhankar most.

“I hit the ball good and putted very well, but the up-and-downs I made the whole week were very crucial. Those par-saves get your round going and I made vital pars on 10, 13 and 15 today. Not having any bogeys was one of my main objectives today and not dropping any shots over the last three days is what makes me most happy, that’s good golf and the best part of my win,” he said.

Shubhankar resumed his round on the eighth hole on Monday and the looming presence of South African Erik van Rooyen meant he could not relax, even after birdieing the par-four ninth hole from 25 feet.

Van Rooyen shot a brilliant 66 to finish second, but Shubhankar notched pars all the way home to ensure he did not provide a back door for the chaser to slip through.

Van Rooyen said he was “really proud” of his effort but “I just could not squeeze any more birdies the way I wanted to”.

Fellow South African Shaun Norris also had plenty of reasons to smile as he roared through the field with a 65 to finish tied for third with Finland’s Tapio Pulkkanen (68). Both Van Rooyen and Norris, who pipped Pulkkanen due to his better world ranking, qualified to join Shubhankar at next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

https://citizen.co.za/sport/south-africa-sport/sa-golf-sport/1755454/it-pays-off-to-be-aggressive-says-joburg-open-winner-sharma/

Happy Boucher gives out praise & thanks 0

Posted on November 03, 2017 by Ken

 

Coach Mark Boucher was understandably a very happy man after the Multiply Titans’ victory over the bizhub Highveld Lions at the BidVest Wanderers Stadium sent his team into an 11-point lead at the top of the Sunfoil Series log, but he also took time out to praise Lungi Ngidi for his attitude during his rehabilitation and thanked his medical staff for their work on the hugely-promising fast bowler.

Ngidi spearheaded the Titans’ nine-wicket win with match figures of nine for 83 in his first game back from a stress fracture in his back.

“It was very satisfying to see Lungi come through and a lot of credit must go to the medical staff because it was a very serious injury for a fast bowler, a very scary time for him. But they started him bowling again in stages and he needed to change his lifestyle a bit.

“The door has opened up for him at international level, so I told Lungi it was up to him to bash it down. Well everyone has certainly got their eyes on him now! His body has developed, he’s stronger and leaner and his professionalism has changed too.

“So the results he achieved in his first game back were not really a surprise for me, although he is still a work in progress and he will get better. We were tempted to play him a week earlier in Pietermaritzburg, but the medical staff are hired to do a job and they said even though it was possible, they preferred not to rush him back then,” Boucher said.

On a sporty Wanderers pitch, Titans captain Aiden Markram was also a contender for man of the match after innings of 85 and 81 not out, continuing the youngster’s superb form this summer.

“Aiden is still scoring a lot of runs, which makes me very happy. When you look at him, it’s almost as if he’s destined for great things and he’s really taken to his role. He hasn’t been around for a long time, but he’s just looking more and more confident.

“I’m sure the Proteas will relish having him in their system and he understands that the opposition at international level will get tougher and people will start looking at his technique and try to find flaws. But Aiden’s feet are on the floor, that’s his character. He’s also a work in progress, but he’s hungry for runs and he did the hard yards in that first innings,” Boucher said.

But the coach also had praise for a player that is a fair way from playing for the Proteas, but has been an absolute standout for the Titans this season – Malusi Siboto.

The 30-year-old is the leading wicket-taker with 17 at 21.35 and he produced a top-class display in the second innings against the Lions, taking four for 26 as the home side were bundled out for just 165, leaving the Titans with a straightforward target of just 133 for the first win of the season.

“Last season as well, Malusi is an unsung hero, he does the hard work like bowling into the wind, and can keep the run-rate down as well as taking wickets. He’s also made crucial runs for us and we’re going to try and get him into being an all-rounder for us.

“In certain conditions, he’s the leader of our attack. He’s one of those guys that goes under the radar, but if he’s not there then he leaves a massive hole in the team,” Boucher said.

Ball-carriers, but chiefly attitude the Springboks’ major problem – Coetzee 0

Posted on June 13, 2016 by Ken

 

Apart from the lack of effectiveness of the ball-carriers, which was chiefly a technical issue, coach Allister Coetzee intimated on Monday that attitude was a major factor in the Springboks’ first ever home loss to Ireland in Cape Town at the weekend.

Coetzee said the team had got carried away, perhaps trying to replicate the flavour-of-the-month style of the Lions in SuperRugby, without attending to the necessary basics first.

“We shouldn’t have got sucked into the SuperRugby vibe, all the feel-good stuff about keeping ball in hand. Test rugby is different, a lot of the time it looks on out wide but it isn’t.

“All credit to Ireland because they scrambled well and worked exceptionally hard with 14 players, but we allowed them to look good by running laterally and unnecessarily forcing offloads. We needed a bit more composure and trust in the system,” Coetzee said on Monday in Johannesburg, where the Springboks play the decisive second Test on Saturday.

Although the shocker at Newlands was meant to be the start of an exciting new era of more positive rugby from the Springboks, the home side got totally carried away, just shovelling the ball wide most of the time and totally failing to capitalise on the one-man advantage they had for an hour after CJ Stander’s red card.

Coetzee said there had been some harsh words about making sure the basics are adhered to first.

“We’ve been brutally honest with each other that that performance was definitely not up to Springbok standard. Some of the lessons are internal things that are definitely only for the camp to know, but Test rugby is definitely built around territory, physicality is crucial and scoreboard pressure as well, because three points in a Test is like a try in SuperRugby. Those are non-negotiables,” Coetzee said.

“Tactically we were off-colour, it was a pressure test and that forced old habits to come out, they played like they do in SuperRugby – have a crack, have a go. But you have to respect certain areas of the field and you can’t force things because that’s what leads to turnovers and sloppy handling.

“The Northern Hemisphere sides are playing much closer to Test rugby than we are in SuperRugby. We’re all talking about ball-in-hand, but there’s still a place for kicking. All Ireland had to do was make it as difficult as possible for us to exit, we got bogged down in our 22. They were very clever tactics and we did not handle them well.”

The Springboks not only found themselves hemmed in when they favoured hands over kicking, but also struggled to get over the advantage line, which Coetzee put down to poor technique.

“We also let ourselves down with our contact skills, to get stripped of the ball so often just shows a lack of awareness in the collisions. It’s about our body height in contact, all about the shoulder battle. Ireland carry the ball very low so they are difficult to stop on the gain-line, they get that extra yard and their cleaners are going forward.

“We need effective ball-carriers, our physicality and intensity were a bit off, not where they should be in Test rugby. It’s about the height of the ball-carriers and how effectively they attack space,” Coetzee said.

In some ways, the red card shown to Stander for his reckless and extremely dangerous “tackle” on Pat Lambie was a blessing in disguise for Ireland; it lifted them to greater heights while there was an unmistakable sense that the Springboks just expected to steamroller them after that.

“I’ve seen many teams win with 14 men. Psychologically, the team with 15 tends to think it will just happen for them and the team with 14 know they have to put in extra effort. How hard Ireland worked was shown by how they managed to tackle JP Pietersen out in the corner at the end of the game. In those situations you have to make sure you go back to basics and do those things right,” Coetzee said.

The coach said the majority of the team that played in the first Test would get the chance to play in the second game at Ellis Park, which they have to win to ensure they don’t lose a series at home to a Northern Hemisphere side for the first time since the 1997 loss to the British Lions.

“We’re between a rock and a hard place because the team as a collective did not play well, but you need to look to give them a second opportunity to rectify that. If you make changes then it looks like panic, but first and foremost, I will be choosing the best team for Saturday.

“I always see the glass as half-full and you will lose rugby Tests, you’re not going to win all your games, whether it be your first Test or your last. The most important thing is how the team responds and I look forward to seeing that. We have to make sure we improve,” Coetzee said.

That means Elton Jantjies and Faf de Klerk, whose game management earned mixed reviews at Newlands, are bound to start at halfback, although Morne Steyn is likely to provide a reassuring presence on the bench, having been called up on Monday.

Steyn may not be the media’s favourite flyhalf for the future, but there is no doubt that the experience, calm and tactical kicking ability he will bring to Ellis Park was badly missed in the first Test.

 

Stormers bring attitude in spades to overwhelm Bulls 0

Posted on June 06, 2016 by Ken

 

Attitude goes a long way on the rugby field and the Stormers brought it in spades against the Bulls at Newlands as they overwhelmed the South African Conference winners with a phenomenal display of focused aggression, unstinting defence and sparkling attack.

The Bulls’ 13-30 defeat means they go into the Vodacom SuperRugby playoffs in second position on the final log, meaning they will host a semi-final, but will have to travel to Hamilton if the defending champion Chiefs make it through to the final.

The Stormers’ top-class performance gave a hint of what potential there is in the side, and there was no escaping a bittersweet feeling at Newlands despite a rousing end to their campaign.

“It’s nice to end the season with a win, but it would have been nicer if we had performed like this throughout the year. We find ourselves in this position of not being in the play-offs because when the pressure was on us, we did not react the way we should have,” Stormers captain Jean de Villiers said after the match.

It was a victory based on a massive effort at the breakdowns, where the Stormers not only turned over the ball several times – mostly through the brilliant Deon Fourie and Bryan Habana – but also harried and hassled the Bulls, getting in the scrumhalf’s face to ensure the visitors’ possession was mostly messy and slow.

A team cannot hope to prosper against a side with a defence as watertight as the Stormers’ if they don’t have good, quick ball and forward momentum, and the Bulls’ chaotic display at the breakdowns meant they were seldom an attacking threat.

Heading into the semi-final, the Bulls’ performance at the breakdowns is now a major concern. They struggled there against the Sharks last weekend as well, but that was put down to the lack of control exercised by referee Jason Jaftha.

With the peerless Craig Joubert in charge at Newlands, the breakdowns were firmly and fairly policed, so it seems the Bulls have serious questions to ask themselves about their cleaning out and the way they protect their scrumhalf.

The sheer power of men like Eben Etzebeth, Rynhardt Elstadt and Nizaam Carr ensured the Stormers also seldom took a backwards step in the collisions and their transition from a struggling, flat-looking side to one that ended the season with five wins in a row has much to do with their return to Newlands.

On Saturday a capacity crowd certainly lifted them and they were inspired, playing like men possessed.

Coach Allister Coetzee will also be especially pleased with players like flyhalf Gary van Aswegen, lock De Kock Steenkamp and hooker Scarra Ntubeni, who are standing in for players of Springbok level but were all outstanding against the Bulls.

“We had a great season with nine wins in a row, but tonight we were given a reminder that we can lose focus,” Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said. “We cannot play like this if it is a knockout match like a play-off. It is more important what we take out of this match and we now know that the lineout is one area we’ll need to work on before the play-offs.”

Ludeke should also pay attention to the continuing scrum woes of the Bulls, where props Dean Greyling and Werner Kruger are continuing to disappoint. The Stormers front row are hardly world beaters and if the Bulls are to win the competition, they are going to have to take a big step up in that particular set-piece.

With so much front-foot ball, the Stormers showed that they are quite capable of playing dazzling attacking rugby. With De Villiers back in the side after a rib injury picked up in the June internationals, the backline had a general and the veteran Springbok put young opposite number Francois Venter and the up-and-coming JJ Engelbrecht firmly back in their place as he shredded the defensive line several times.

De Villiers and Habana combined superbly for the winger to score a try that left a memorable mark on his farewell appearance for the Stormers before heading to France.

In Durban, the Sharks hammered the Southern Kings 58-13 to also farewell the John Plumtree era in fine fashion.

The Eastern Cape team sent a second-string outfit to King’s Park in order to freshen up their key players for the vital promotion/relegation games against the Lions, and they were overwhelmed physically, really battling to get across the advantage line.

The physical dominance of the Sharks was epitomised by the Kings’ failure to once bring Bismarck du Plessis to ground in a tackle and if Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer is seeking more powerful ball-carriers, he need look no further than Jean Deysel, who was immense for the second week in succession.

The injured pride of the Sharks players was soothed by the 10 tries they scored, with Riaan Viljoen fitting in seamlessly in the flyhalf position, JP Pietersen producing an energetic display on the wing as he came back into the team after injury, and Odwa Ndungane being nothing short of inspirational in the fullback position.

The Sharks also ruled supreme in the lineouts, with little Keegan Daniel taking six balls on their own throw and stealing three off the Kings. The Sharks captain and eighthman had his best game in a long while, while loosehead prop Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira was prominent in the loose and scored a memorable try early in the second half to put the home side in front by 25 points.

The Kings had been competitive in the first half, keeping the Sharks’ lead to just 19-13 in the first half-hour. But the KwaZulu-Natalians took firm control of the game thereafter.

The vexed question over whether the rolling maul should be legal dominated the first half as four of the six tries scored came from what many pundits consider “legalised obstruction”. The defending team seem to be unfairly discriminated against at the moment and it is an aspect of the game the International Rugby Board will probably have on the agenda soon.

The other weekend matches settled the final playoff positions as the Crusaders saw off a determined challenge from the Hurricanes to finish fourth and the Reds edged out the Waratahs to claim fifth.

The Brumbies were upset by the Western Force in Perth and so stayed third, meaning they will now host the sixth-placed Cheetahs next weekend.

The other qualifier will be between the Crusaders and the Reds in Christchurch.

Final Combined Log

Pos Team P W D L PF PA PD TF TA Bye BPts Pts
1 Chiefs (NZ winner) 16 12 0 4 458 364 94 50 38 2 10 66
2 Vodacom Bulls (SA winner) 16 12 0 4 448 330 118 41 34 2 7 63
3 Brumbies (Aus winner) 16 10 2 4 430 295 135 43 31 2 8 60
4 Crusaders (Qualifier) 16 11 0 5 446 307 139 44 31 2 8 60
5 Reds (Qualifier) 16 10 2 4 321 296 25 31 23 2 6 58
6 Toyota Cheetahs (Qualifier) 16 10 0 6 382 358 24 38 32 2 6 54
7 DHL Stormers 16 9 0 7 346 292 54 30 18 2 6 50
8 The Sharks 16 8 0 8 384 305 79 40 31 2 8 48
9 Waratahs 16 8 0 8 411 371 40 45 34 2 5 45
10 Blues 16 6 0 10 347 364 -17 40 36 2 12 44
11 Hurricanes 16 6 0 10 386 457 -71 41 49 2 9 41
12 Rebels 16 5 0 11 382 515 -133 44 65 2 9 37
13 Force 16 4 1 11 267 366 -99 26 34 2 5 31
14 Highlanders 16 3 0 13 374 496 -122 40 55 2 9 29
15 Southern Kings 16 3 1 12 298 564 -266 27 69 2 2 24

http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-07-15-superrugby-stormers-attitude-in-spades/#.V1Vhofl97IU

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