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Ken Borland



UJ lift themselves to pick up 2nd successive title 0

Posted on May 25, 2016 by Ken

 

The University of Johannesburg lifted themselves up from a tough first half to claim their second successive Varsity Hockey men’s title as they beat the University of Pretoria Tuks 4-2 in a thrilling final at their home astroturf in Westdene.

Tuks were outstanding as they gave the defending champions a real run for their money and they led for the first 39 minutes through a fine goal by the prolific Richard Pautz. But UJ equalised through Ryan Crowe, one of the best players of the tournament, and the hosts picked up three more goals in the final quarter to seal victory.

But the result was still in the balance in the final minute as Tuks cut the lead to 2-3 through Grant Glutz and they then earned a short-corner, which was charged down and then resulted in a goal at the other end to complete one of the best finals seen in local hockey in recent years.

Tuks took their chances better in the first half and scored after 20 minutes through Pautz, who went on a weaving run and then beat UJ goalkeeper Matthew Martin at his near post with a powerful reverse-sticks strike for a top-grade goal.

UJ had numerous chances but at times seemed too intent on forcing short-corners, and they were also stymied by a superb display of goalkeeping by Tuks number one Hendrik Kriek.

A couple of saves by Kriek in the 12th and 14th minutes and a double-save in the 21st minute were top-drawer and UJ would have gone into halftime knowing they had to be more clinical in the Tuks circle.

The introduction of the powerplay by Tuks two minutes into the second half meant the focus of UJ was initially on defence, but four minutes later they wasted their most obvious chance of the match as they created a two-on-one with the goalkeeper but the excellent scrambling and reflexes of Kriek saw him save Brynn Cleak’s shot.

But three minutes later, the combined efforts of Cleak and Amkelwa Letuka were enough to set up Crowe in the middle of the circle and he finally managed to beat Kriek.

The end of the third quarter came with Glutz flicking wide from a short-corner and the tension levels of the large crowd reached feverish levels as the final went into the last 15 minutes at 1-1.

Like all champion sides, this was when the composure and class of UJ shone through.

The powerplay did not bring reward either for the hosts, but the heroics of Kriek did keep a high reverse-sticks strike by Crowe out in the 48th minute, shortly after it ended.

The deadlock was broken just a minute later though when Taylor Dart, named the player of the tournament, won a short-corner. UJ kept their composure well when the set-piece initially went awry, and Dart passed the ball back to Gareth Heyns, the captain, and he powered a flick into the top left corner of the goal.

The defending champions took a firm grip on the title in the 51st minute when the umpire, John Wright, officiating alongside his brother Peter, awarded the home side a penalty stroke as the tide suddenly turned against Kriek.
The Tuks hero felled Le-Neal Jackson after his great run into the circle, leaving the umpire with little choice but to point to the spot and give the goalkeeper a yellow card. Heyns duly flicked past Keagan du Preez, the substitute goalkeeper, and UJ had control of the game with a 3-1 lead.

But the result was once again put in doubt just three minutes later – setting up a delicious finale – when Stephen Cant’s fine run earned Tuks a short-corner. Cleak cleared nicely off the line off Glutz, but Tuks then won another short corner and this time Glutz succeeded with his low flick. Martins will perhaps feel he could have done better with the shot, that went between his legs.
Tuks then earned another short-corner in the final minute, Glutz showing his tremendous skill to the joy of his team-mates and the Pretoria students’ supporters.

But that soon turned to awful dismay as Jackson roared up as first wave and charged down the shot, running most of the length of the field before finding Cleak on the baseline. The Namibia-born 23-year-old passed back to Jackson, but his shot was kept out by Du Preez. But the rebound fell to Tyson Dlungwana, who buried it in the goal.

Tuks, with several students playing in their last Varsity Hockey tournament, will return to Pretoria bleak, but they played a full role in a thoroughly crowd-pleasing final.
For UJ, the celebrations will be long and joyous as they keep the trophy in Johannesburg.

http://varsitysportssa.com/uj-lift-pick-second-successive-title/

Bulls hold off ferocious Sharks to go top of SuperRugby 0

Posted on May 25, 2016 by Ken

 

The Bulls held off ferocious mobs of Sharks players and an unsympathetic referee to claim top spot on the Vodacom SuperRugby log with a thrilling 20-19 victory at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday night.

The Bulls were trailing 13-19 with just seven minutes remaining, but managed to put an evening of immense frustration and testing behind them and snatch victory through a try by replacement scrumhalf Jano Vermaak, converted by sharpshooting flyhalf Morne Steyn.

The embattled Sharks produced an epic performance and pushed the form team in SuperRugby to the limit, but poor goal-kicking and a moment of madness that saw captain Butch James yellow-carded were behind their defeat.

For intensity and drama, it was a top-class game of rugby, with both teams fighting relentlessly for every centimetre on the gain-line, but also using their backs to strike when a chance to spread the ball presented itself.

The Sharks, with a team ravaged by injury and a stand-in coaching team, will be heartened that they managed to give the Bulls, on a phenomenal eight-match winning streak, a real run for their money at their home fortress, where they have not lost a game since June last year.

But they will be gutted that a wayward kicking display by Pat Lambie cost them 10 points, while Riaan Viljoen also missed two penalties, including a last-minute effort that would have reversed the result.

James, a surprise choice as captain as the Sharks pulled a typical late shuffle with regular captain Keegan Daniel shifted to the bench to make way for another battering ram in Jean Deysel, was a commanding presence at flyhalf (his swop with Lambie being another late change) until the last 10 minutes when he lost the plot and then almost decapitated Bulls replacement back Jurgen Visser with a flying head-high tackle.

The Bulls not only had to overcome a feisty Sharks team but also a spate of penalties awarded against them by referee Jason Jaftha. The visitors had already been given a dozen penalties by the time the Bulls received their second, and the breakdowns were the most obvious area of difficulty for them when it came to deciphering the bizarre rulings of Jaftha.

The official line of Bulls captain Dewald Potgieter was that “the odds were a bit against us and there were a lot of technical decisions at the breakdown, we need to adapt to the way the referee is blowing” – but the obvious feeling in the Bulls camp was that Jaftha was only watching them at the rucks.

But the character and composure of the Bulls remained intact, although there were times in the third quarter when they looked rattled and were thrown off their game-plan. But it was the ideal sort of test for their young side ahead of the pressure of sudden-death play in the playoffs.

“The way we kept our cool and grinded it out and the way we pulled it back were very pleasing. These local derbies get the best out of the teams and we always invite competition, there were areas where they really tested us and it’s good that that happened and we were still able to get the result.

“In the second half, there were a few opportunities when the corners were open and field position was vital. We made mistakes then, but the players were probably feeling that they wanted momentum and ball-in-hand, trying to win the gain-line battles. You don’t want to win that way, but we’ll take it and hope to take great things from it,” coach Frans Ludeke said.

With the help of a seemingly anti-Bulls referee, the Sharks dominated the breakdowns for the first hour and were able to up the pace of the game and stretch the Bulls, before they resurrected their home playoff hopes in miraculous fashion at the death, moving them into first place on the log, two points ahead of the Chiefs and four ahead of the Brumbies going into the final round of regular-season play.

There were also celebrations in Bloemfontein as the Cheetahs confirmed they will advance to the playoffs for the first time as they beat the Blues 34-13.

The Cheetahs dominated at forward to set up their victory, but took a long time to seal the deal as they wasted several try-scoring chances in a nervy second half.

A fifth-minute try to Blues scrumhalf Jamison Gibson-Park served as a timely warning to the Cheetahs of the perils of giving the visitors turnover ball, but the home side’s scrum then went to work where it really mattered – inside the opposition 22 – to earn a penalty and then a tighthead that led to eighthman Phillip van der Walt’s try and a 13-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Impressive flyhalf Riaan Smit kicked two more penalties to give the Cheetahs a 19-10 half-time lead, but Willie le Roux wasted two great opportunities to get the second try early in the second half, before Baden Kerr kicked a 58th-minute penalty to give the Blues the first points after the break and close the gap to 13-19.

But the Cheetahs, dominating the rucks thanks to their brilliant loose trio of Brussow, Van der Walt and Labuschagne, were able to build multiple phases in the last 10 minutes and it was almost inevitable that nippy replacement scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius would find a gap and score.

He did so in the 75th minute and replacement flank Boom Prinsloo added a third try three minutes later to put the cherry on top.

It was a top-class forward effort by the Cheetahs, with lock Rynard “Ligtoring” Landman also a stand-out player along with a front row that is also a phenomenal unit.

The backline made a plethora of handling errors, but Le Roux was so often a lethal threat with ball in hand, while outside centre Johann Sadie also had a fine game.

The Southern Kings went into their derby against the Stormers with a simple and brutal mode of attack that sought to disrupt the opposition as much as possible at source.

With the Stormers not exactly being the most dazzling attacking side themselves these days, it led to an ugly war of attrition at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, which the visitors won 24-12.

Due to earlier happenings at the Free State Stadium, it meant little because the Cheetahs’ win had already knocked the Stormers – and the Sharks for that matter – out of contention for the playoffs.

While the Kings are rightfully lauded for their magnificent defence, they probably show the least attacking intent of all the SuperRugby sides and they seemed content to just spend the 80 minutes snapping at the ankles of the Stormers, in other words being a nuisance rather than going out and trying to win the game.

Stormers captain and flank Deon Fourie scored two tries to add to the joint goalkicking efforts of Elton Jantjies and Joe Pietersen in a game that was a poor spectacle.

Referee Lourens van der Merwe must foot much of the blame for that as cynical play in the breakdowns continuously went unpunished.

Just like last weekend in their rousing victory over the Cheetahs, it was the Stormers’ forwards who did the legwork for the win, none more so than Fourie.

People are constantly bringing up Heinrich Brussow’s name when it comes to traditional openside flanks, but for all-round impact, Fourie also punches way above his weight and his livewire performances have been integral to the Stormers’ recent improvement in form.

Lock Eben Etzebeth – apart from being involved in several off-the-ball incidents – and prop Steven Kitshoff were also prominent in giving the Stormers a physical edge in the forward battle.

http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-07-08-throwing-the-bulls-sharks-fight-hard-but-come-off-second-best/#.V0TNl_l97IU

Never-say-die Titans salvage epic draw v Lions 0

Posted on April 11, 2016 by Ken

 

The bravest of batting efforts by the never-say-die Unlimited Titans saw them salvage an epic draw in their Sunfoil Series match against the bizhub Highveld Lions at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Sunday, ensuring that they will go into the last weekend of the competition in prime position to claim the title.

The Titans were forced to follow on 379 runs behind the Lions and Pumelela Matshikwe’s deadly four-wicket burst just before lunch seemed to have condemned them to an innings defeat as they stumbled into the break on 219 for five.

But the tenacious Dean Elgar produced one of the finest innings of his career to bat for nine hours and score an epic 173, Qaasim Adams (71 not out in 263 minutes) and Marchant de Lange (23 not out in 85 minutes) providing immense support as the game died a natural death with the Titans having erased the deficit and scored 385 for six. By denying the second-placed Lions the 10 points for a win, the Titans will take a 12.62-point lead into the final round.

Matshikwe, probing and accurate, was superb, taking six for 58 in 31 overs and used the inconsistent bounce and a worn area outside the right-hander’s off stump from the West Lane End, that caused the ball to jag back, brilliantly.

Hardus Viljoen and Dwaine Pretorius were also threats when the ball was newer and harder, but left-arm spinner Bjorn Fortuin toiled through 31 overs on the dry pitch without success.

Test opener Elgar brought tremendous determination and a savvy game plan to the final day, but he could not have rescued the game without the help of Adams. The 31-year-old was left out of the team at some stages in the first half of the summer as the Titans tried to balance their team, but he has become an absolutely key batsman and his average in the four-day competition is now 69.66 after knocks of 73 and 71 not out against the defending champions.

The Titans began the final day on 156 for one and Elgar and Grant Mokoena survived the first hour without much interference. But that was before the introduction of Matshikwe, who clings to a line-and-length with steely determination.

Matshikwe bowled Mokoena for 27, a gutsy two-and-a-half hour knock which was ended when the batsman inside-edged a cut into his stumps.

Mokoena’s dismissal did not disrupt Elgar’s focus and the left-hander went to his 16th Sunfoil Series century and second of the season, after five hours and 17 minutes at the crease, having already faced 232 balls.

Matshikwe’s two overs from the West Lane End immediately before lunch were what undermined the Titans innings so terribly, as he used the deteriorating surface to great effect.

Theunis de Bruyn (7) was the victim of an umpiring error as he was given out caught behind off the sleeve under his arm, but Mangaliso Mosehle, who completed a disheartening pair, and Henry Davids were both comprehensively beaten and bowled for ducks by Matshikwe.

Mosehle played around his first delivery and lost his off stump as the ball nipped back, and Davids shouldered arms and was bowled as the ball jagged back a long way off the crack.

That brought Elgar and Adams together and, after playing out the over-and-a-half before lunch they set about dominating the afternoon. The left-handers were not as vulnerable to Matshikwe’s favoured area but they both had to show tremendous defensive technique and concentration as they added 110 for the sixth wicket, facing 254 balls and taking three hours out of the game.

They reached 282 for five and a fascinating contest developed between Elgar and Fortuin: the batsman would often advance and hit the spinner straight down the ground, but the 21-year-old seemed to have made a key breakthrough for the Lions when Elgar got himself into a tangle and seemed to have offered a bat/pad catch.

The umpire turned the appeal down though and Elgar and Adams notched a century partnership and took the Titans past 300.

Matshikwe returned though and claimed the wicket of Elgar, who pushed hard down the ground, but the angle from around the wicket took the ball on to the inside edge and Dominic Hendricks took a diving bat/pad catch from short mid-off.

There were still at least 25 overs left to be bowled when De Lange came in. He is normally a no-frills belter of the ball, but the Titans are chasing a trophy and he had to change his game plan.

He did a superb job with Adams, defending stoutly but taking the runs when they were on offer, another 59 runs being added as the home side survived a tense final day to ensure they are the favourites for the four-day title.

As well as the Lions played, they will be disappointed that they could not bowl the Titans out on the final day – injured wrist-spinner Eddie Leie was missed and the lack of a reverse-swing option also hurt them.

http://www.citizen.co.za/1060151/never-say-die-titans-salvage-epic-draw-v-lions/

Otaegui takes advantage of friendly conditions with superb 62 0

Posted on December 30, 2015 by Ken

 

Spaniard Adrian Otaegui took advantage of the friendlier conditions available at the start of the second round of the Tshwane Open at Pretoria Country Club on Friday, shooting a superb eight-under-par 62 to claim a two-stroke lead at the halfway stage of the co-sanctioned tournament.

Otaegui was in the first three-ball off at 6.40am and he set the tone for his round with birdies on the par-four second and third holes. Five birdies in a row from the eighth saw him surge up the leaderboard and he then made twos at both of the par-threes on the back nine, before bogeying the last to finish on 11-under for the tournament.

“We were first to tee off this morning and the conditions were perfect. I like playing that early and I did really well. I made a lot of birdies and I’m happy with my round. It was a good round from the beginning.

“The greens were perfect, because we opened the course. They were good yesterday, but when you play first the course is in very good condition and you can take advantage,” Otaegui said after his best round on the European Tour.

South African Merrick Bremner is two shots back at nine-under-par after a typically attacking approach brought him a four-under-par 66. He started his round at the 10th hole but was level-par for the day after a bogey on the first, but four birdies would come in his last six holes to leave him alone in second place.

While joint overnight leader Morten Orum Madsen would come undone with two double-bogeys in his first four holes and successive bogeys around the turn, leaving him six shots off the pace on five-under, David Horsey kept himself in strong contention.

The Englishman started on the 10th and put a double-bogey on the fourth behind him as he collected two birdies coming in to finish on eight-under, in a tie for third with South Africans Keith Horne and Trevor Fisher Junior, and Italian Edoardo Molinari.

Sunshine Tour Order of Merit leader Andy Sullivan had an icky round of 71 to miss the cut, while it also all went wrong for Lindani Ndwandwe, who posted a promising 68 in the first round before a run of five successive bogeys from the third hole saw him shoot 79 on Friday and also miss the cut.

The in-form Wallie Coetsee had steadily climbed the leaderboard with four birdies as he stood on the 18th tee tied with Bremner on nine-under, but then suffered a major blow as his tee-shot found one of the numerous bunkers on a hole that is usually a par-five but is a par-four in this tournament.

The lapse led to a double-bogey which pushed Coetsee back down to seven-under, in a tie for seventh with fellow South Africans Dean Burmester and George Coetzee.

Conditions were definitely trickier on the second day at Pretoria Country Club, with sunny and warm conditions speeding up the greens and a capricious breeze making club selection tricky.

“I found the wind quite tricky. It was really swirling in completely opposite directions and I got a lot of clubs wrong compared to yesterday. You’re trying to make birdies with wedges in your hand and you’re hitting it five or 10 metres short because the wind changes on you. That can get quite frustrating. I think the wind was the biggest factor in why the scores weren’t that low,” Horne said after his 67.

Otaegui, who learnt the game at the same Real Golf Club de San Sebastian as former Ryder Cup captain Jose-Maria Olazabal, who is also his mentor, said Pretoria Country Club suited him.

“I like these type of courses that are old-style and have trees, so that you have to place the ball. You don’t need to hit it far, but rather put it in a place where you can attack the pins. Even if I missed a few tee shots today I hit some good irons and gave myself birdie chances,” the 22-year-old said.

He may be on top of the leaderboard at the moment, but Otaegui is not getting ahead of himself as he eyes his first top-three finish on the European Tour.

“I’m happy, but we still have a lot of way to go. It’s just 50% of the tournament and so many things can happen. I just have to be patient tomorrow. Let’s see if I’ve learnt something from these last two rounds,” he said.

Molinari, a two-time European Tour winner and a former Ryder Cup player, was slow out of the gate as he started on the 10th, only making his first birdie on the 18th hole. But he also picked up shots on the first and on his last two holes to put himself amongst the leaders.

 

 

 

 

 



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