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Ken Borland

Bonus point left in Bloem, but Du Preez happy with attacking work 0

Posted on March 28, 2017 by Ken


The Sharks left a potential bonus point behind in Bloemfontein, but coach Robert du Preez was nevertheless delighted with their 38-30 win over the Cheetahs at the weekend, and especially that they managed to score four tries.

“Unfortunately we didn’t get the bonus point, but it’s always very tough to come here and win, the Cheetahs are a very good, talented side and Franco Smith is a very good coach, so you’re always up against it here. So we’ll take the win any day!

“We want to score tries and we scored four, which is much better than last week when we only managed two against the Kings. I’m also very happy that the wings scored three of those tries, that’s always good. And Kobus van Wyk scored two of those on the left, coming from the right-hand side, so that shows that the boys are working really hard,” Du Preez said.

While 19-year-old flyhalf Curwin Bosch stole the limelight with a stellar display, Du Preez still swears by Pat Lambie, who is set to return to action in six weeks after fracturing a vertebra.

“Curwin’s now ready to play flyhalf, but Pat is in a class of his own. We’ll be in a good position when Pat comes back because then Curwin can go back to fullback. The fact that he can also play there gives him more space, and he gets confidence from that. At flyhalf he’s under pressure to call all the plays on attack, it’s a big responsibility and it’s not the same at fullback,” Du Preez said.

“Curwin has definitely got BMT and pedigree, but we must all be very careful with how we handle him because he is young. But he’s definitely one for the future for South African rugby.”

Du Preez also backed tighthead prop Coenie Oosthuizen, whose all-round game caught the eye, for a return to the Springboks.

“The work that Coenie has done on his conditioning has played a big role and he’s a fantastic team man. I think he’s really enjoying his time with the Sharks and he should definitely be in the mix again for the Springboks,” the former international scrumhalf said.

Cheetahs can surprise everyone with attack variations – Reinach 0

Posted on March 24, 2017 by Ken


Everyone knows that the Cheetahs are an attacking side, but Sharks scrumhalf Cobus Reinach says his team are wary of all the little variations to their game coach Franco Smith could have up his sleeve for their SuperRugby clash in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

“Franco Smith has brought in a lot of different attacking lines, they don’t just go from wide to wide anymore. So that’s going to keep us on our feet, the Cheetahs have a lot of good attacking players and it’s a good challenge for us to have. The Cheetahs have a lot of exciting players and they can really bring anything to the party,” Reinach said.

The Sharks surprised – in a bad way – in their match last weekend against the Southern Kings, struggling to a two-point victory in which they made far too many errors and showed little fluency. While insisting that the team had moved forward since that setback, Reinach agreed that the performance was no laughing matter.

“We’ve put that match behind us, but it certainly was not the way we want to perform, it was a below-par display. It’s about attitude and we let ourselves down. We need to get our mental preparation right and make sure we’re up for every game. We train in a squad system so making changes to the team should not influence how we play, we all know the calls and when to do things and what not to do,” Reinach said.

Injury curse muddying the selection waters for Blue Bulls 0

Posted on August 11, 2016 by Ken


The injury curse is muddying the selection waters for Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais, with Ulrich Beyers returning from action in France and Italy in a reshuffled backline announced on Wednesday for Saturday’s Currie Cup clash against the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

Wing Jade Stiglingh’s excellent debut against Western Province last weekend was spoilt by an ankle injury that has put him out of action for six weeks, with the experienced Bjorn Basson shifting from fullback to replace the 23-year-old on the wing, where the Springbok has played most of his rugby.

That has forced Marais to turn to Beyers, a former Bulls player who left in 2014 to play for Bordeaux in France and Zebre in Italy.

Outside centre Dries Swanepoel has also strained a quad muscle in his thigh and will be replaced by Dan Kriel.

“Ulrich was here on a two-week trial because we were worried about fullback and centre cover if we got another injury. We are now in negotiations with him to lengthen his stay. Those will hopefully be completed in the next week,” high performance manager Xander Janse van Rensburg said.

“Dan Kriel has not had many opportunities, we thought he would be able to play against the Waratahs but then we lost against the Brumbies and couldn’t afford to rest guys. He’s practising well at the moment and now he gets the chance to show why he’s at the Bulls and where he is going. Guys like Franco Naude also want to play, so Dan must show what he can do this weekend and it will be a good challenge for him against Francois Venter,” Marais said.

The return of lock RG Snyman, one of the stars of the SuperRugby campaign, is the main feature of the new-look bench that the Blue Bulls will take to Bloemfontein.

The starting second row of Jason Jenkins and Marvin Orie were outstanding against Western Province and the presence of Snyman will just increase the physicality and ball-carrying ability of the Bulls.

Edgar Marutlulle, the former Lions and Southern Kings hooker, is in line to make his first appearance in the light blue jersey, while Martin Dreyer, the well-travelled former Hoerskool Wonderboom prop, replaces Nxoba Mxoli, who has a chest injury.

Joshua Stander is the reserve flyhalf for this weekend, replacing Tony Jantjies, while the highly-rated Duncan Matthews is the other new face on the bench.

Team: Ulrich Beyers, Bjorn Basson, Dan Kriel, Burger Odendaal, Jamba Ulengo, Tian Schoeman, Piet van Zyl, Arno Botha (c), Jannes Kirsten, Ruan Steenkamp, Marvin Orie, Jason Jenkins, Entienne Swanepoel, Jaco Visagie, Pierre Schoeman. Bench – Edgar Marutlulle, Martin Dreyer, RG Snyman, Hanro Liebenberg, Andre Warner, Joshua Stander, Duncan Matthews.


Sharks savour win, but bigger challenge awaits v Chiefs 0

Posted on January 05, 2016 by Ken


The Sharks were back at training at Kings Park on Monday, savouring their convincing 27-10 win over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, but a far bigger challenge lies ahead this weekend when they take on the Chiefs, who were impressive in beating the Stormers 28-19 in Cape Town.

A backline featuring Sonny Bill Williams, Aaron Cruden and Tim Nanai-Williams is enough to turn defenders’ legs to jelly and Sharks assistant coach Sean Everitt was not sugar-coating the challenge on Monday.

“We are much happier after this past weekend, we haven’t performed quite as well as we’d wanted to, but going to Bloemfontein is never easy, so it was great to come back with a bonus-point win.

“But the Chiefs backline can score a lot of tries and the most important thing for us is to prevent them from attacking from turnovers, that’s when they can be really dangerous. The names say it all, Aaron Cruden, Sonny Bill Williams and the likes,” Everitt warned.

As the Chiefs showed against the Stormers, scoring from poorly-directed or inadequately-chased kicks is meat and drink for them, but Everitt said kicking would still be an important part of the Sharks’ game-plan.

“I think if you look at the stats, teams are losing games when they are playing too much rugby in their own half and not in the right areas of the field. So we want to get that right and ensure we take our opportunities when they arise.

“Against the Cheetahs, with the ball we had and the fact we didn’t want to play too much rugby in our own half because we were punished when we did that in the first round, it was part of our strategy to kick quite a bit. But we won that kicking battle I felt, territory counts for a lot, so it was part of our plan,” Everitt said.

Much of that success has been down to the brilliance of flyhalf Pat Lambie, whose confidence has just been growing exponentially since he kicked that last-minute penalty to beat the All Blacks last October.

“Pat is on top of his game, he’s fighting to go to the World Cup as the number one flyhalf. We’re very happy with how he’s going and his game management has been outstanding, and obviously with the leadership role he plays, he just keeps getting better and better,” Everitt said.

The one major negative to come out of the weekend, though, was the knee injury suffered by lock Pieter-Steph du Toit. Initial reports suggested the form second-rower will be out for eight months, having re-injured the same knee that kept him out for most of last year, which would take him beyond the end of the World Cup in October.

But Everitt said there was still a small element of hope for Du Toit, who went to see his specialist in Cape Town on Monday.

In terms of a replacement, there is zero chance of Stephan Lewies playing yet because he is still four weeks away from action as he recovers from knee and shoulder surgery, while Willem Alberts’ absence due to a hamstring strain has been put at two to three weeks.

Veteran Marco Wentzel is therefore likely to catch a start, with the “Giant”, Lubabalo Mtyanda, returning to the bench.

Loose forward Tera Mtembu and centre Paul Jordaan are the other players still on the injured list, while utility forward Etienne Oosthuizen, the former Brumbies player who Jake White brought to the Sharks, has returned to the training field.



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