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Ken Borland

Sharks, Cheetahs & Kings get job done on epic weekend 0

Posted on February 16, 2015 by Ken

An epic weekend of SuperRugby action ended with the Sharks, Cheetahs and Southern Kings emerging as the big winners, furnishing themselves with the invaluable characteristic of being able to get the job done against the odds.

The improvement of the Sharks in their second half against the Crusaders was remarkable and their 21-17 victory looked implausible at half-time when the home side were creaking like one of the decrepit ships in the harbour not far away.

The Cheetahs showed that they now obviously have the belief to contend for the crown of Conference champions as they snuck home 26-24 against the Stormers, increasing the misery of one of the pre-tournament favourites.

And although the Southern Kings didn’t win, their 28-28 draw with the log-leading Brumbies in Canberra was one of the most unexpected results in the history of the competition.

The Sharks now lead the South African Conference by just three points from the Cheetahs, but have just come off the bye, with the Bulls and Stormers six and nine points behind respectively.

The break didn’t seem to have done the Sharks any good in the first half, though, as the Crusaders dominated the possession and territory stats and stressed the home side’s defence by attacking both close to the fringes and out wide.

The finishing of the Crusaders was poor, however, and the 11-9 half-time lead did not reflect the dominance they had enjoyed.

It was the unerring boot of flyhalf Pat Lambie that had kept the Sharks in the game with three penalties and, with their game undergoing a dramatic refurbishment after the break, he was able to kick four from four in the second half and give the Natalians just their third win in 17 matches against the Crusaders.

The boot of opposite number Tyler Bleyendaal was less precise, even though the youngster had kicked superbly out of hand in the first half. The 22-year-old stand-in for Dan Carter missed a potential five points in the first half and another six in the second, while he was no longer the master of the territorial game either. Even wing JP Pietersen was more effective with the boot after the break.

The scoreboard was still in the Crusaders’ favour, however, heading into the final 10 minutes at 17-15. It was the Sharks scrum, which was uncertain in the first half, which turned the contest as a tremendous shove earned Lambie a penalty to give the home side an 18-17 lead.

The clincher came with four minutes remaining and was due to an inconsequential ruck infringement by the Crusaders on their own ball.

But the Sharks were deserving winners, keeping the ball for longer in the second half, and their forwards producing a superb effort spearheaded by Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira and the highly impressive young lock, Pieter-Steph du Toit.

Burton Francis kicked an angled penalty after the hooter to also steal the plaudits in the Cheetahs’ 26-24 win over the Stormers.

Having earned a reputation in previous seasons for always losing the close games, the Cheetahs showed remarkable composure and belief to end a six-year losing streak against the Stormers and to avenge two narrow defeats against them last year. It was also their fifth successive win, to mark their best ever run in SuperRugby.

Replacement wing Damian de Allende’s failure to remove his hands from a ruck as the Stormers tried to repel wave-after-wave of desperate last attack by the Cheetahs led to the penalty, which was contentious. But it was fair that the last piece of fortune should fall the Cheetahs’ way because referee Stuart Berry had earlier seen fit to award the Stormers a try despite accidental offsides in the build-up and a crucial 71st-minute ruck penalty when Heinrich Brüssow looked hard done by and which infuriated the hosts.

The crowning of Francis as hero only came after a shaky last 10 minutes when he had missed a relatively straightforward penalty and a drop goal (having slotted a brilliant one on the hour mark) and had kicked the ball dead to concede a scrum in the final minute, inside the Cheetahs’ half.

But the massive scrum that followed, earning the Cheetahs a tighthead, was the obvious match-winning moment, allowing the home side to launch those last forays that earned Francis his shot at glory.

The play of the Stormers was inconsistent, ranging from the sublime to the lethargic and the number of errors they made meant the Cheetahs were always in the game.

Having competed so well in the opening exchanges, the Cheetahs were in a state of some shock at half-time as the Stormers scored two tries in the last five minutes of the first half to open up a 15-7 lead.

The second try should never have been, though, as Gio Aplon, having re-gathered his own chip over the defence, then grubbered into one of his own players standing in front of him, which should have been called for offsides. It was during a typically helter-skelter, scrappy period of play, but the information would have been readily available to referee Berry had he referred it, like so many other decisions, to the TMO. Then again, perhaps the Cheetahs players should have put up more of a fuss.

But the Cheetahs struck early in the second half, Elton Jantjies being penalised for a judo-throw tackle and replacement scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius then snapping up an attempted box-kick practically off opposite number Nic Groom’s boot and racing away from 45m for a superb try.

It came at a cost, though, as Pretorius strained his hamstring during his sprint, forcing replacement wing Ryno Benjamin to play scrumhalf. Fortunately he fitted the bill as he has played there before for the Springbok Sevens team, and it characterised the Cheetahs’ determination to succeed whatever the obstacles, which included a dysfunctional lineout.

The Stormers are not the only bemused pre-tournament favourites at the moment, though, with the Brumbies wondering how on earth they couldn’t beat the Kings in Canberra.

The answers lie in how magnificently the Kings defended, but also in how the Brumbies chose to attack the tournament newcomers.

Having started brightly, using their big strike runners to narrow the defence and then going wide as they built an early 13-0 lead, the Brumbies declined to use the width of the field in the second half.

It played into the hands of the phenomenal Kings defence at close quarters, with flank Wimpie van der Walt leading the way with an extraordinary 19 tackles, missing none, to win the man of the match award for one of the most ferocious displays seen this season.

It was Van der Walt and excellent fellow loose forward Cornell du Preez who had carried the ball strongly to allow prop Schalk Ferreira the momentum to score the Kings’ opening try in the 22nd minute.

The Kings lost a couple of lineouts and hardly ever retained possession from the kick-offs to make life even harder for themselves, but Van der Walt scored from a brilliant rolling maul to keep the gap to just 14-19 at half-time.

For whatever reason, Jake White’s Brumbies have been unable to give of their best for two weekends now and their lack of focus saw the Kings claim the lead just six minutes into the second half as a dropped pass allowed Sergeal Petersen to hack the ball away and give chase. The visitors won the turnover, scrumhalf Nicolas Vergallo holding the ball up well before providing Du Preez with the scoring pass.

It was clear the Brumbies were now in danger of a shock defeat, even though the Kings’ lead only lasted four minutes as Vergallo’s clearance from the kick-off was charged down, leading to a penalty.

But it was the Kings, learning about rugby at this level with prodigious speed, who had all the answers in the closing minutes. Even a harsh yellow card to Ferreira, which contributed to two Brumbies’ scrum penalties, and a missed penalty in front of the poles by George Whitehead failed to derail them and the final minute saw them hard on attack.

The Brumbies conceded a string of penalties as the clock ticked down, and the hooter had long gone when the admirable Bandise Maku made good ground after tapping the penalty and the tenacious Du Preez muscled his way through the tackles of four Australians to clinch the most heroic of draws.

Kallis & Morkel the big IPL winners 0

Posted on May 30, 2012 by Ken

Jacques Kallis and Morne Morkel were the big winners as the fifth edition of the Indian Premier League concluded at the weekend with the Kolkata Knight Riders snatching the title from the Chennai Super Kings in a thrilling final.

The Knight Riders chased down the daunting target of 191 set by the Super Kings, the two-time champions, with Kallis playing the anchor role to near perfection as he scored 69 off 49 balls to add another crown to the awesome CV of the world’s greatest all-rounder.

Kallis scored 409 runs (the 11th most) and claimed 15 wickets (13th most) at an economy rate of just 7.46 to state his claim as the best all-rounder in the IPL.

Morkel won the Purple Cap for being the leading wicket-taker in the competition, taking 25 wickets in his 16 matches, at an average of just 18.12 and a more than useful economy rate of just 7.19, seeing off mystery spinner Sunil Narine (24 wkts), who was named as the Player of the Tournament for his heroics for Kolkata.

While Narine’s tournament ended with the trophy, Morkel’s finished with frustration as the tall fast bowler was inexplicably dropped by the Delhi Daredevils for their do-or-die semi-final against the Super Kings.

The extent of the hole left in Delhi’s attack was soon apparent as CSK opener Murali Vijay scored a sensational century and the log-leaders folded to an 86-run defeat.

While the performances of Kallis and Morkel were the highlight from a South African perspective, the form of countrymen AB de Villiers, Dale Steyn, Albie Morkel, Faf du Plessis and JP Duminy was also outstanding.

De Villiers produced what was judged to be the best individual performance of the tournament when he plundered 47 not out off just 17 balls to take the Bangalore Royal Challengers to a target of 182 against the Deccan Chargers. The fact that he took 23 runs off a Steyn over obviously tipped the vote in his favour.

South Africa’s limited-overs captain was one of the most destructive batsmen in the competition, plundering 319 runs at an average of 39.87 and a strike-rate of 161.11, the third best out of those batsmen who scored more than 200 runs.

The spectacular onslaught did little to damage Steyn’s reputation though, with the fast bowler delivering searing pace, accuracy and tremendous skill in practically every outing for the Chargers.

Steyn took 18 wickets in 12 matches and was sixth in the Purple Cap standings. He was third in the bowling averages for those who took at least 10 wickets with 15.83 and his economy rate of 6.10 was the second best of all bowlers who delivered more than 40 overs.

Albie Morkel chipped in throughout the Super Kings’ campaign with bat and ball and earned his pay with 13 wickets at an economy rate of 7.77 and a batting strike-rate of 157.35.

Du Plessis also shone for Chennai in his first IPL season, setting the early pace in the race for the Orange Cap as he scored 398 runs at an average of 33.16 and a strike-rate of 130.92.

But an untimely illness and the return of Australian veteran Mike Hussey put paid to Du Plessis’ season after 13 matches.

The left-handed Duminy was one of the best finishers in the competition, topping the averages as he was dismissed just three times in nine innings and scored 244 runs for an average of 81.33 and a strike-rate of 128.42. He was also superb in the field, but was probably under-bowled a bit by the Chargers.

David Miller struck the ball well when given the chance in six innings by the Punjab Kings XI, while off-spinner Johan Botha kept the runs down for the Rajasthan Royals.

Wayne Parnell only played six matches for the Pune Warriors, but was the third most economical bowler in the competition out of those who delivered at least 20 overs, conceding just 6.09 runs to the over.


Jacques Kallis (KKR) – 409 runs at 25.56, SR 106.51 2x50s; 15 wickets @ 26.86 ER 7.46

Morne Morkel (DD) – 25 wickets @ 18.12 ER 7.19

Albie Morkel (CSK) – 107 runs @ 15.28 SR 157.35; 13 wickets @ 29.61 ER 7.77

Faf du Plessis (CSK) – 398 runs @ 33.16 SR 130.92 3x50s

AB de Villiers (RCB) – 319 runs @ 39.87 SR 161.11 3x50s

JP Duminy (DC) – 244 runs @ 81.33 SR 128.42 2x50s; 12-104-1 ER 8.66

David Miller (PK) – 98 runs @ 32.66 SR 130.66

Dale Steyn (DC) – 18 wickets @ 15.83 ER 6.10

Johan Botha (RR) – 9 wickets @ 33.00 ER 7.24

Roelof van der Merwe (DD) – 2 wickets @ 30.00 ER 6.00

Wayne Parnell (PW) – 5 wickets @ 25.60 ER 6.09

Rusty Theron (DC) – 8-66-2 33.00 ER 8.25

Alfonso Thomas (PW) – 14-109-3 36.33 ER 7.78

Herschelle Gibbs (MI) – 81 runs @ 40.50 SR 92.04 1×50

Marchant de Lange (KKR) – 10-107-3 35.66 ER 10.70

Robin Peterson (MI) – 32 runs @ 10.66 SR 106.66; 8-70-3 23.33 ER 8.75

Richard Levi (MI) – 83 runs @ 13.83 SR 113.69 1×50

Davey Jacobs (MI) – 1 innings, 0 runs off 10 balls, 1 catch.

*Gulam Bodi (DD), Kyle Abbott (PK), Charl Langeveldt (RCB) & Rilee Rossouw (RCB) did not play a game in this year’s IPL.

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