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Ken Borland



Superb Williams solo try wins scrappy game for Sharks 0

Posted on November 17, 2016 by Ken

 

A superb solo try by replacement centre Heimar Williams made certain of a 25-21 victory for the Sharks in a scrappy SuperRugby match against the Rebels at Kings Park in Durban last night.

Williams, who cut inside and then dashed over from 25 metres out for a brilliant try, gave the Sharks a 22-7 lead after 52 minutes.

But despite the Rebels playing with 14 men for the entire second half after prop Laurie Weeks was red-carded for repeatedly punching Jannie du Plessis, who was yellow-carded for starting the fracas with a slap to the back of the head, the visitors fought back manfully and threatened to steal the spoils.

Inspired by man of the match Scott Higginbotham, their eighthman and captain, the Rebels scored twice in the last quarter through Higginbotham and replacement wing Bryce Hegarty.

The Sharks, who dominated territory, were hesitant on attack and both sides struggled to gain momentum due to dreadful handling.

Left wing S’Bura Sithole was the Sharks’ best player and his 34th-minute try, muscling his way through several defenders, ensured that they had a 10-0 lead, but that was cut to 7-10 at the break by Higginbotham’s first try.

Four minutes into the second half, the Rebels were on attack but replacement scrumhalf Nic Stirzaker threw a no-look pass that was snaffled by fullback Lwazi Mvovo, who then sprinted 80 metres for a thrilling intercept try.

The Sharks led 15-7 but they created precious little else in terms of try-scoring chances, their attack being too lateral – when they managed to hang on to the ball – and the several passengers in their pack ensuring that front-foot ball was hard to come by.

They were grateful for Williams finally producing some direct running for the try that made the task just too hard for the Rebels.

Scorers

Sharks – Tries: S’Bura Sithole, Lwazi Mvovo, Heimar Williams. Conversions: Lionel Cronje (2). Penalties: Cronje (2).

Rebels – Tries: Scott Higginbotham (2), Bryce Hegarty. Conversions: Jack Debreczeni (3).

Boks need to cut out the stupid stuff – De Allende 0

Posted on June 16, 2016 by Ken

 

Springbok centre Damian de Allende said on Tuesday that the team needs to cut out the “stupid” stuff on Saturday if they are to beat Ireland at Ellis Park and stay alive in the three-Test series.

A tactically naïve Springbok team went down 26-20 to a 14-man Ireland side last weekend in Cape Town, playing frankly dumb rugby that saw them frenetically just try to throw the ball out wide without drawing the defence or worrying about what area of the field they were playing from. De Allende said they have learnt their lesson from that debacle.

“We need to fix a lot of things this week, especially our execution out wide. We need to use the inside balls as well, but we tried to force it outside all the time and go too early. We want to get the ball wide but we mustn’t be stupid about it.

“It’s about decision-making, when to keep the ball and when not to, you need to play in the right areas. We played too much in our own half, sometimes you need to put the ball in the space behind the defence and put your opponents under pressure,” De Allende said after training on Tuesday.

The Springboks only cut through the Irish defensive line seven times at Newlands, two times fewer than Ireland managed even though they were understandably defence-orientated after being reduced to 14 men for the last hour. De Allende said the Springboks were still focusing on targeting space better.

“There aren’t major changes to our game plan with Allister Coetzee as the new coach, we still want to play with the South African mentality of being physical, but we also want to recognise the space on the outside and not just try to go over people,” De Allende said.

The 24-year-old, who earned his 14th cap in Cape Town, admitted that he is currently out of form having missed most of the SuperRugby season due to injury.

“It’s been difficult, I’m still struggling for a bit of confidence and it’s been very tough coming back from injury, I didn’t think it would be this tough. But I hope in the next few weeks that I will be back to my form of last year.

“The key for me is to be looking up and to be aware of the space, give the players on the outside even better space and bring the forwards into the game more as well. We all need to make a statement after last week and the best way to do that is to increase our line speed. That’s the new key nowadays, to attack the space quicker and it went a lot better for me today on the training field,” De Allende said.

 

Concerns through the team for Meyer ahead of quadrangular 0

Posted on May 04, 2016 by Ken

 

Fullback and flyhalf are the positions the public is talking about the most, but Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer will be equally concerned about lock, scrumhalf, centre and wing when he announces his squad on Saturday for the quadrangular series with Italy, Scotland and Samoa next month.

Flyhalf is actually one of the positions Meyer can rest easy over, with Morné Steyn making himself a certainty in the number 10 jersey with his great run for the in-form Bulls team.

South Africa are fortunate to have someone as talented as Pat Lambie as back-up, but a host of injuries have robbed Meyer of some key backline players. JP Pietersen, Jaco Taute and Frans Steyn are definitely out for at least the next month, while Juan de Jongh and Zane Kirchner have not played SuperRugby for some time.

That leaves some conundrums when it comes to the midfield combination and who will play fullback.

When Meyer first took over as Springbok coach, he chose Jean de Villiers as an outside centre and, given his polished display in the number 13 jersey in the Stormers’ return to winning ways last weekend, the national captain is likely to play there in the quadrangular series.

The Springbok management have given a big hint that 20-year-old Jan Serfontein is being lined up to make his Test debut inside the skipper as he has been withdrawn from the SA U20 team leaving today for the Junior World Championship in France. Robert Ebersohn has done much to make the Cheetahs serious SuperRugby contenders this year and is also an option but, despite his propensity to tackle way above his weight, he has still missed 31 tackles this season, the joint worst with Blues flyhalf Chris Noakes, according to rugbystats.com.au.

The other option is for De Villiers to play in the number 12 jersey he wore in the second half of 2012 and for JJ Engelbrecht to play 13. The Bulls youngster is almost certain to be in the squad, however, as he can also cover wing.

The back three is also a big problem for Meyer given the injuries to Pietersen, Taute, Frans Steyn and Kirchner. Bryan Habana, whose work rate and pace continue to impress, is the only certainty, while the coach might decide to move Francois Hougaard back to wing, given that the Bulls man has only recently returned from injury and has looked messy and off the pace at scrumhalf.

The other candidates for wing are Bjorn Basson, who could be favoured because of his tremendous ability in the air, Raymond Rhule, Lwazi Mvovo, Gio Aplon and Willie le Roux.

The latter two are also in the mix to be fullback. Meyer would be foolish to risk playing his regular number 15, Kirchner, given that he has not played any rugby in 10 weeks since having a finger operation.

But he could still pick an experienced international there by moving Lambie from flyhalf to fullback. Hopefully Meyer will also have the courage to consider playing Cheetahs magician Willie le Roux there, even if it is off the bench.

The Ulster-based Ruan Pienaar is likely to be the starting scrumhalf, with the pace on attack provided by Jano Vermaak a useful complementary attribute on the bench.

The second row is also going to be an interesting dilemma for Meyer. The great Bakkies Botha will be available, but the coach has already hinted that Pienaar and flank Francois Louw will be the only overseas-based players he will be calling on for the quadrangular.

The inconsistent Andries Bekker is not willing to play for the Springboks once he leaves for Japan – and is injured anyway – but Juandré Kruger will be available and is the obvious choice in the number five jersey, providing he is over the niggling injury that kept him from the field in the Springboks’ training camp this week.

Eben Etzebeth showed in his outstanding display for the Stormers last weekend that he will be able to fulfil the lineout general’s role as well, but if Bakkies is not going to be called up, the team might be stronger with Etzebeth at four.

Franco van der Merwe, so reliable for the Sharks this year, will then be the back-up number five.

The loose forward selection will inevitably be coloured by Meyer’s decision to once again ignore Heinrich Brüssow.

The Cheetahs openside flank has managed to con many critics that he is still as potent a fetcher as he was in 2009, but all the stats providers involved in SuperRugby show otherwise. He isn’t in the top 20 for pilfers on any of the stats sites, but where he does feature is in the top 10 for tackles made.

Meyer is right to be wary of unleashing Brüssow with northern hemisphere referees officiating and the rules of his trade much stricter these days, but contesting rucks is not the honey badger’s only skill. Brüssow is exceptionally strong for his size, has a great work rate and good ball skills and is hopefully not entirely out of Meyer’s plans, if even as an impact player.

It seems inevitable that the starting loose trio on June 8 against Italy in Durban will be Pierre Spies, Willem Alberts and Louw, with the bench spots contested between Marcell Coetzee, Arno Botha and new star Lappies Labuschagne.

Jannie du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss and Coenie Oosthuizen are bound to be the starting front row and Wiehahn Herbst is in line for his Test debut as reserve tighthead, with Chiliboy Ralepelle and Tendai Mtawarira the other reserves now that teams are compelled to have two props on the bench.

Bismarck du Plessis is in a similar position to Kirchner and should not be risked as he has not played a SuperRugby match the entire season. A run of three games for the Sharks after the June international window and Du Plessis should be ready to explode into Rugby Championship action having recovered properly from a serious knee injury.

Ralepelle will certainly not let the side down in the meantime, having shown accuracy at the lineout, great work rate and presence at the breakdowns for the Bulls this season.

What Meyer is not going to be conned into doing is playing flavours-of-the-month that may not be contenders for the next World Cup that is just 840 days away, no matter how vigorously their brilliance is debated in your local bar.

No more than a pair of new caps in Serfontein and Le Roux are worth betting on, but it should make fans happy that the Springbok coach can afford not to choose some of the other great talent laying around.

Probable squad – Pat Lambie, Willie le Roux, Bryan Habana, Lwazi Mvovo, Jean de Villiers, JJ Engelbrecht, Jan Serfontein, Robert Ebersohn, Francois Hougaard, Bjorn Basson, Morné Steyn, Ruan Pienaar, Jano Vermaak, Pierre Spies, Arno Botha, Willem Alberts, Lappies Labuschagne, Francois Louw, Marcell Coetzee, Juandré Kruger, Franco van der Merwe, Eben Etzebeth, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Flip van der Merwe, Jannie du Plessis, Wiehahn Herbst, Adriaan Strauss, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Coenie Oosthuizen, Tendai Mtawarira.

http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-05-30-springbok-squad-preview-a-few-headaches-but-no-migraine-for-meyer#.Vys00IR97IU

Damian de Allende: The new face of the Springbok backline 0

Posted on August 13, 2014 by Ken

 

Coach Heyneke Meyer believes Damian de Allende can bring a “new dimension” to Springbok backline play, but the modest centre is promising no revolution himself.

De Allende is very much the modern backline player – big, strong and quick – standing 1.89m tall, weighing 104kg and fast enough to play on the wing for the Stormers, and also skilful enough to create many tries for his team-mates with his deft offloads.

“He’s a big guy but he’s skilful as well, he has the soft touches, runs beautiful lines and gets the ball away. I think he can bring a new dimension to our backline and I feel he can be superb at 13,” Meyer said on Wednesday after announcing De Allende would make his debut against Argentina at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

The player himself was reticent to talk about all his skills.

“I don’t know about skills, but I know Heyneke wants a physical presence in midfield. We want to play direct rugby and earn the right to go wide,” De Allende said.

Despite playing just once before at outside centre in his senior career – for Western Province against the Blue Bulls in a Currie Cup match last year – De Allende is relatively unfazed about wearing the number 13 jersey on his Test debut.

“It does make my debut more challenging, but I’ll have Jean de Villiers on my inside and it will be very exciting. I’ve had the one game at 13 at a high level and, although number 12 is my best position, playing outside centre will be just about making the right decision at the right time. I need to identify space on the outside and try and get behind the defence,” De Allende said.

The 22-year-old probably has the Varsity Cup to thank for his rapid rise to the international stage. He only started to take rugby seriously at the age of 15 and, going to the unfashionable, in rugby terms, Milnerton High School possibly explains why he was missed by the Western Province Craven Week selectors. But his coach, Hein Kriek, pushed him to go to the provincial U19 trials and he was snapped up by the  team which would win their age-group Currie Cup in 2010.

A stint at Alan Zondagh’s academy followed, from where he played for Hamiltons, before UCT snapped him up in 2012 for the Varsity Cup and he was then able to star on national TV, showing his attacking and defensive skills to great effect.

“The Varsity Cup helped a lot, it gave me some TV time, and then Allister Coetzee and Robbie Fleck moved me to inside centre,” De Allende said.

The former opening bowler for Western Province U18 is clearly not just the sort of one-dimensional battering ram South African rugby is trying to move away from. The fact that his biggest inspiration is the diminutive Gio Aplon says it all.

“I really look up to Gio, he’s not the biggest but he’s a phenomenal player and he has a massive heart,” De Allende said.

The son of Spanish descendants said the emotion of playing for the Springboks will be “a bit overwhelming” on Saturday.

“Playing for the Springboks is every rugby player’s dream, it’s one of the most unique teams in the world, more diverse than many others,” De Allende said.

His mother, father and brother will be in the stands at Loftus Versfeld to see how a Springbok who has travelled one of the more unusual routes to the Green and Gold does.

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  • Thought of the Day

    1 Corinthians 3:3 - "For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?"

    One of my favourite U2 songs is a collaboration with Johnny Cash called The Wanderer, and it features the line "they say they want the kingdom, but they don't want God in it".
    Many people say they believe in God, but they don't experience his loving presence. They may be active in Christian work, but only if they have their way. If they cannot be leaders, they refuse to be involved.
    Because they refuse to allow God to fill their lives with his love, they remain weak and powerless.
    Spiritual maturity means developing a greater love for others.

    "When the love of Christ saturates you, immature attitudes such as pettiness, jealousy and strife are dissolved.
    "It is only when you have an intimate relationship with the Lord that you receive sufficient grace to rise above this immaturity and enjoy the solid food that the Holy Spirit gives you." - Solly Ozrovech, A Shelter From The Storm



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