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Ken Borland

Ruthless Southern Gauteng claim title in emphatic fashion 0

Posted on May 04, 2016 by Ken


Southern Gauteng claimed the Greenfields Senior Interprovincial Nationals men’s title in the most emphatic manner with a ruthlessly efficient 5-1 victory over the SA U21s in the final at the Randburg Hockey Stadium on Saturday.


The greater experience of the Southern Gauteng team was shown by their tremendous composure in defence, the SA U21s certainly threatening more than the scoreline would suggest. Up front, the home team were clinical, with Stuart Spooner and Julian Hykes taking full advantage of what were no more than half-chances for their goals.


Both teams took a while to settle down in a nervy first quarter, that finished goalless, with just one short-corner to Southern Gauteng.

Spooner opened the scoring in the 21st minute with an impressive reverse-sticks shot from an angle, but there is such talent in this SA U21 side that it was not much of a surprise when they equalised moments later, the hard-working Matthew de Sousa setting up a short-corner and then managing to get the ball past the daunting frame of national goalkeeper Rassie Pieterse with a clever deflection.

But Southern Gauteng were extremely dangerous on the break and less than a minute had passed when they were back in front, Clinton Panther rounding the defence and flipping the ball back for Brad Venter to pop it into goal.


When Hykes was gifted the ball at the top of the SA U21 circle by a foolish mistake but blasted his shot over the goal, it went down as a potentially crucial moment as Southern Gauteng went into halftime 2-1 up.


But the mark of a champion team has often been described as the ability to lift their performance by a notch under pressure and Southern Gauteng did just that as they came out for the third quarter and blew the SA U21s away with three goals.

A strong run by Brandon Panther set up a short-corner, from which Gareth Heyns gave a perfect example of a drag-flick into the top right of the net.


Southern Gauteng then gave a masterclass in exerting pressure as they squeezed the SA U21s into the left corner, eventually forcing the defence to gift possession away. Clinton Panther pounced, found Hykes, who crossed for Brynn Cleak to slot the fourth goal.


A pinpoint, perfectly-struck reverse-sticks shot by Hykes in the 42nd minute brought the fifth and final goal.

Southern Gauteng, patient and composed, structurally aware and able to read the game so well, were the worthiest of champions.

Stellar second day for Southern Gauteng teams 0

Posted on April 27, 2016 by Ken


Hosts Southern Gauteng enjoyed a stellar second day in the Greenfields Senior Interprovincial Nationals at the Randburg Hockey Stadium on Tuesday as both their men’s and women’s teams claimed pole position in their pools after posting their second successive wins.

The Southern Gauteng women’s team, the defending champions, produced a top-class 7-0 demolition of Free State, Lisa-Mari Deetlefs and Bernie Coston both scoring twice, while the men emerged with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Northerns in a fractious game that ended a day that was interrupted for over an hour by a thunderstorm.

They had to come back from a 1-0 deficit after a short-corner goal by Matthew Guise-Brown, and Brad Venter produced an equaliser on the stroke of halftime before Southern Gauteng won a penalty stroke as Guise-Brown hacked Julian Hykes’s stick from behind in the circle, allowing Gareth Heyns to flick high into the net for an excellent winner.

Last year’s finalists may yet be caught at the top of their pool if their B side, Wits, can beat Northerns on Wednesday and Southern Gauteng fail to see off Eastern Province.

Eastern Province, who beat Northerns 4-3 on the opening day, went down 1-2 to Wits on Tuesday as Nic Gonsalves scored a brace, the first coming via a field goal in the 19th minute and the second from a brilliantly-worked short-corner option in the 22nd.

The deficit was cut by a Cody van Wyk field goal, but his Eastern Province side were unable to find a way through again.

Pool A in the men’s A Section is developing into an epic contest as Tuffy Western Province, the defending champions, slipped down into third place after losing to the SA U21s, while the KZN Raiders, who drew with the junior internationals on the first day, joined them at the top of the standings with a comfortable 6-1 win over Free State.

Free State provided some anxious times early on for the KZN Raiders, but it was only a moment of brevity as the KwaZulu-Natalians roared to victory.

Free State started strongly and so nearly claimed the first goal when Dylan Swanepoel rocketed a short-corner drag-flick off the post in the second minute. But gradually the competitiveness of the Free Staters waned and the KZN Raiders in the end put together a very good performance.

They opened the scoring in the eighth minute when a fine cross by Mohammed Mea was expertly met and deflected into goal by Travis Hardnick.

The rest of the first half went well for KZN as they added two more impressive goals. Stephen Wiggett showed the talents of an ace goal-poacher as he seemed to have so much time to rob the ball off a defender’s stick and slam it into the goal all in one stroke for the Raiders’ second goal, and Jethro Eustice, who did invaluable work in midfield, then flicked home well from a short-corner to make it 3-0 after 20 minutes.

Daniel Sibbald was inches away from scoring the goal of the tournament thus far when his reverse-sticks shot came off the post, the international having started the move just outside his own 25 with a superb run.

But the third quarter was a better one for Free State as they pulled a goal back through Darren Kamfer, before normal service was resumed in the final quarter and KZN Raiders scored three more goals.

Ross Hetem set up and finished the first with a fine overhead across the circle to Jarryd Jones, who cut back and then passed back to Hetem, who slotted home a good reverse-sticks finish.

Jones scored the last goal on the final hooter, with a slap high into the net after a short-corner, with Wiggett getting his second goal five minutes earlier with a well-struck angled shot.

The SA U21s had little respect for their heroes of yore in the Western Province side, denting their ambitions in a 3-2 victory.

Ryan Crowe handed SA U21 the lead with a field goal, before Western Province struck back thanks to an Austin Smith drag-flick from a penalty corner.

There was a break in play as thundershowers led to a waterlogged astroturf, pushing the remainder of the day’s games back, but play eventually resumed with the sides locked at 1-1.

Another field goal, this time by Khumo Mokale, helped SA U21 regain the lead, before a penalty stroke in the 40th minute from Kyle Lion-Cachet sealed the victory, although Western Province managed to close the gap with four minutes to play as Smith added another from a short corner.

The Tuffy Western Province women’s side provided more ill news for the Cape as they drew 1-1 with Northerns Blues.

The early exchanges were dominated by Northerns as they created a number of chances and pressured the Western Province defence. Had it not been for Nicole le Fleur they may have been down a goal early on with the goalkeeper keeping out a Jacinta Jubb effort from a penalty corner in the ninth minute.

But Jubb managed to break the deadlock two minutes before halftime with a powerful poke from a short corner hurtling into the backboard.

But the lead was short-lived as Western Province struck back through Anche Nortje, and while both sides fought hard for the lead in the third and fourth quarters, the goals never came. It was made worse by the fact that both sides were left to rue a number of missed short-corner opportunities.

The North-West women’s team showed that they will be coming hard at Southern Gauteng when they meet on Wednesday with a comfortable 4-1 win over the SA U21s, two of their goals coming from Lori Hyde.


Men’s A Section: KZN Raiders 6 (Travis Hardnick, Stephen Wiggett [2], Jethro Eustice, Ross Hetem, Jarryd Jones) Free State 1 (Darren Kamfer); Eastern Province 1 (Cody van Wyk) Wits 2 (Nicolas Gonsalves [2]); Tuffy Western Province 2 (Austin Smith [2]) SA U21 3 (Ryan Crowe, Khumo Mokale, Kyle Lion-Cachet); Southern Gauteng 2 (Brad Venter, Gareth Heyns) Northerns Blues 1 (Matthew Guise-Brown).

Women’s A Section: North-West 4 (Sulette Damons, Lori Hyde [2], Sinalo Jafta) SA U21 1 (Nomnikelo Veto); Southern Gauteng 7 (Lisa-Mari Deetlefs [2], Robyn Johnson, Bernadette Coston [2], Taryn Mallett, Lisa Hawker) Free State 0; Tuffy Western Province 1 (Anche Nortje) Northerns Blues 1 (Jacinta Jubb); Spar KZN Raiders 3 (Chiree Coetzee, Sarah Bingham, Kara-Lee Stella) Wits 0.

Men’s B Section: Northerns B 2 (Michael Hesse, Michael Seal) Eastern Gauteng 2 (Grant Robins, Brandon Crockett); SA Country Districts 2 (Henry Cock, Keith Stainbank) Zimbabwe 3 (Phillip Machaya, Tendayi Maredza, Luckson Sikisa); KZN Inland 0 KZN Mynahs 5 (Dale van der Merwe [3], Richard Pentecost, Tanner Bottomley); WP Peninsula 4 (Warren McEwan [2], Luthando Jonas, Cameron Ryan) North-West 3 (Gertjie Lambrecht, Wayne Jeffery, Essex Mbekeni).

Women’s B Section: WP Peninsula 8 ( Nicole Bartsch [2], Georgia Moir, Simone Strydom, Rosanne Lombard, Georgia Grobler, Aimee Pote, Robyn Pinder) SA Country Districts 1 (Robyn Morgan); Southern Gauteng Nuggets 0 Northerns B 3 (Anneke Avent, Janie Porteous, Chanel Dippenaar); Mpumalanga 1 (Shannia-Lee Swart) Zimbabwe 4 (Michelle Williams [2], Iman Johnson, Nicola Watson); KZN Mynahs 5 (Carla van Niekerk [2], Pamela Daniel [2], Jamie Chisholm) KZN Inland 2 (Silindile Mbhele, Tiffany Jones).

Koro Creek’s Ahlers takes the Investec bonus pool 0

Posted on April 22, 2016 by Ken


The members of Koro Creek Golf Estate in Modimolle are probably still celebrating after their representative, Jaco Ahlers, claimed the second-biggest paycheque on the Sunshine Tour by winning the Chase to the Investec Cup final at the Lost City on Sunday, thereby winning the R3.5 million bonus pool for topping the standings at the end of the season-long competition.

While Ahlers was celebrating the best day of his golfing career, there was bitter disappointment for Jaco van Zyl, who lost in a playoff that was only decided on the third trip down the 18th hole, and for overnight leader George Coetzee, who bombed out of contention with a double-bogey on the 17th.

Playoffs are nervewracking affairs at the best of times and Van Zyl recovered magnificently on their second trip down the 18th after putting his drive into the water down the right-hand side of the fairway and then leaving his third in the hazard in front of the green. But he did not get lucky a second time when his third playoff drive went in the same spot and his third shot, after dropping, was in the water in front of the green.

Ahlers, having slotted a pair of five-foot putts to halve the first two playoff holes, calmly slotted a six-footer for par to claim the spoils and continue his excellent record in playoffs.

“I was pretty calm. Three months ago I won a four-hole playoff to win the Cape Town Open and my first win in 2009 also came in a playoff, so that gave me confidence. It’s amazing to win and I still haven’t had time to think about it, really. I just wanted to win, I wasn’t thinking about the money, but we have just bought a house so it will help,” Ahlers said.

Although Van Zyl was not able to clinch the deal, he was philosophical about the loss, saying the 18th was not the sort of hole that suited his game and all he could think about was ‘do not hit the ball right into the water’.

The 13-time Sunshine Tour winner played superbly, however, just to make the playoff with four birdies in the last five holes.

Ahlers matched Van Zyl, an eagle on the fourth, with two birdies either side of it, and three birdies in a row from the 11th laying the foundation for his 66.

Coetzee still had a share of the lead after his third birdie of his round on the par-four 14th, but he was not able to hang on to it as a wretched drive on the 17th, which was so far left it was almost in the Pilanesberg Game Reserve, led to a double-bogey.

Even a remarkable birdie on the 18th was not enough. His drive was far left in the waste bunker and a well-struck wood from there just ran out of green and went into the water. Coetzee dropped and then sank his fourth from the fringe.

*Lee-Anne Pace was not challenged over the three days of the Investec Cup for Ladies and strolled to an eight-stroke victory on Sunday, also winning the bonus pool for the second year in succession.

SA SuperRugby conference title heading to Tshwane 0

Posted on September 21, 2015 by Ken


South Africa’s Vodacom SuperRugby Conference title still looks set to return to Tshwane as the Bulls won their fifth successive game to keep ahead of the Cheetahs, who claimed an impressive victory over the Reds. The Sharks, meanwhile, silenced allegations of cultural divisions within their team by sealing a spirited win over the Western Force in Perth.

While there has rightly been a storm of protest over a diabolical penalty try decision against the Stormers by the TMO, the less said about the team’s actual performance in their defeat to the Rebels in Melbourne, the better.

The Bulls weren’t anywhere near their best on attack against the Highlanders at Loftus Versfeld, but where they impressed was in their suffocating defence, their ferocity at the breakdown and their ability to capitalise on opposition mistakes.

The margin of victory – 35-18 – was comfortable enough, but the Bulls struggled for much of the second half to get any continuity with ball in hand, and the bonus-point try only came in the 78th minute courtesy of some individual brilliance from replacement scrumhalf Jano Vermaak, who capitalised on the Highlanders’ defence worrying about substitute wing Bjorn Basson lurking out wide on the blindside.

And it was a crucial bonus point too as it lifted the Bulls into second on the overall log, above the Brumbies, from where they would qualify for a home semi-final if they remain in that position.

The Bulls’ first try came in just the third minute as they turned over possession from the kick-off and then bashed away at the Highlanders for 13 phases and created the overlap on the left. Francois Hougaard’s terrible pass – the returning scrumhalf’s service was scrappy in general – didn’t matter as outside centre JJ Engelbrecht gathered the ball off the ground and went over for the opening points.

The reliable boot of Morne Steyn added the next 11 points through the conversion and three penalties before what Bulls coach Frans Ludeke afterwards admitted was “the turning point of the game” came just two minutes before half-time.

The Highlanders, trailing 6-16, were pushing hard on the Bulls’ tryline but excellent defence saw the ball turned over. Flank Dewald Potgieter pounced and sparked a counter-attack, before feeding Engelbrecht, whose pass under pressure to wing Akona Ndungane, who then ran 80 metres to score, was referred to the TMO.

The television pictures seemed clear enough, but the TMO ruled there was insufficient evidence that Engelbrecht’s pass had been forward, and the try was allowed.

Pierre Spies, the Bulls captain celebrating his 100th SuperRugby game, then charged over for a try six minutes into the second half to decide the contest, but the vagaries of the referral system were once again in the spotlight after the controversy in Melbourne the previous day.

Matt Goddard’s decision to award a penalty try against the Stormers – who were leading 21-20 at the time – was based on hooker Martin Bezuidenhout pulling replacement scrumhalf Nick Phipps back as he chased his grubber over the tryline – but the Australian ignored Scott Higginbotham’s clear knock-on moments before and the fact that Bryan Habana, probably the fastest player on the field, was also racing towards the ball.

While it was a shocking call, the Stormers once again really had only themselves to blame for the defeat. In the minutes leading up to the Rebels’ comeback, they had turned down three kicks at goal to set the lineout and get their rolling maul going. The Rebels defended superbly close to their line, but poor decision-making by the Stormers saw them turn over the ball. They then contrived to lose their own lineout throw and conceded a soft penalty for offsides, which allowed the Rebels back on to attack.

The decision by coach Allister Coetzee to substitute halfbacks Elton Jantjies and Louis Schreuder also needs to be questioned as the Stormers, playing off flyhalf more than in previous weeks, had scored three tries with them on the field.

But while the Stormers improved on attack, their defence was softer than it has been practically all season and the Rebels were able to make ground far too easily with ball in hand. The physicality of Duane Vermeulen and Rynhardt Elstadt was obviously missed, but the Stormers are going to have to show more adaptability in tough circumstances if they are ever to win the SuperRugby trophy.

Captain Jean de Villiers also continues to elect to kick for touch and go for tries rather than build the scoreboard – and the pressure that creates try-scoring opportunities – as the Bulls do so successfully.

With the Waratahs scoring a stunning victory over the log-leading Brumbies a few hours earlier, the Reds had the opportunity to take first place when they took on the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

But a sloppy performance by the 2011 champions, and a clinical performance by the Cheetahs, who were magnificent in defence and ruthless on attack, saw the Reds slide to a 27-13 defeat.

Never mind his refusal to toe the line on matters of team discipline, Quade Cooper provided plenty of justification for Wallabies coach Robbie Deans’ decision not to include him in his initial Australia squad to face the British and Irish Lions with an error-strewn performance.

But scrumhalf Will Genia also made several mistakes in a similarly unfocused display and it is difficult to know whether it was the 40 hours of disrupted travel the Reds had to endure to get to South Africa or the Wallaby squad announcement that distracted them so much.

The Cheetahs deserve immense credit though because of their ability to get themselves out of trouble despite teetering on the ledge of the precipice on numerous occasions.

The Reds enjoyed 64% of possession and the Cheetahs had to make 125 tackles compared to the 57 of the visitors. But it was that uncompromising defence, right up in the faces of a team that likes to throw the ball around flat on the gain-line, that also led to 13 turnovers.

And the Cheetahs were clinical in turning their few opportunities, especially from turnover ball, into points.

Scrumhalf Piet van Zyl scored two brilliant individual tries in a superb performance that suggested the 23-year-old could be the answer to the worrying lack of depth for the Springboks’ number nine jersey.

The Cheetahs’ loose trio, especially Lappies Labuschagne and Philip van der Walt, were immense, and new flyhalf Elgar Watts was practically unerring with the boot, keeping the scoreboard ticking over with five penalties and a conversion.

The selection of Watts had been trumpeted by the Cheetahs’ management in the build-up to the game as an indication that they wanted to use their backline to run at the Reds, but that turned out to be a red herring.

Instead of trying to match the Reds at their own game, the Cheetahs chose to attack from the set-pieces and use the powerful ball-carrying abilities of their forwards.

The Sharks, having lost their previous five matches, desperately needed someone to spark them against the Force, even though laughable newspaper reports during the week that skipper Keegan Daniel was “anti-Afrikaners” undoubtedly added fire to their bellies.

It was loose forward Marcell Coetzee, who had been quiet in previous weeks, who provided the inspiration as he defended like a Trojan, leading the Sharks’ stats with 21 tackles, winning turnovers and carrying the ball strongly.

He made the tackle and then claimed the turnover as the Force inexplicably took a short tap on their own 22 in the 64th minute, with the scores level at 13-13, that led to Riaan Viljoen’s brilliant match-winning try.

Fullback Viljoen broke the line and then he handed off one would-be tackler before breaking through another to score the Sharks’ second try.

Fellow flank Willem Alberts also enjoyed a powerful game as he returned to the starting line-up. He also no doubt made Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer smile at the thought of having one of his favourite weapons available for the internationals next month.

Lock Franco van der Merwe was also impressive as he once again dominated the lineouts and he contributed significantly at the collisions and breakdowns.

Daniel expressed his relief after the game that the Sharks had managed to end their torrid tour on a winning note.

“We were under a lot of pressure this week,” he said. “That was guts and effort. We knew we have been strong in the second half of games and that’s what happened tonight.”

What will be a concern for coach John Plumtree is that the Sharks once again made a slow start, conceding 65% of first-half possession to the Force and giving away much of their own ball. They were fortunate to just be trailing by three points at the break, which was a credit to their defence.

That same defence came to the fore in the closing minutes with the Force pushing hard at their line. Hooker Heath Tessmann and replacement scrumhalf Brett Sheehan both had a go at diving over, but the TMO correctly ruled that Tessmann’s initial attempt had led to a little knock-on at the base of the ruck.

The Sharks’ set-pieces were also a key factor in the triumph and the pack remains a formidable outfit despite the raft of injuries.

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