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Ken Borland



John McFarland Column: Why I think the Boks will win in Perth 0

Posted on September 07, 2017 by Ken

 

The Springboks have so many guys playing well at the moment that I see us getting the result against Australia in Perth on Saturday, even though the Wallabies have been very competitive against the All Blacks for the last 120 minutes – it’s just the first 40 minutes of the first Test in which they were hammered.

Australian rugby is not at its strongest state at the moment and there has been a losing culture around the players from SuperRugby and a two-game loss to New Zealand, which has been their traditional start to the Rugby Championship.

They did come very close to winning in Dunedin and they probably should have won that match, but they haven’t been convincing, whereas the Springboks are full of confidence, belief in their systems and they have momentum. You can just see the positivity in the camp.

On the back of two losses, the Wallabies will be in a motivated and desperate state, but the confidence is not quite there.

Australia don’t have the same weapons as the Springboks do and they don’t have much of a kicking game. In fact they don’t want to kick, everything is about ball-in-hand for them, so obviously if the Springbok defence stands up well, opportunities could be created by the Wallabies trying to play under pressure.

There has been an exceptional improvement in the Springbok defence and the players are working so hard for each other, they’re getting off the line and smashing the opposition. It just shows that defence can be a weapon as well.

Australia will want to carry the ball a lot, they want to outscore teams, but the Springbok defence has proven quite lethal in stopping attacks and forcing turnovers, and then finishing those off.

Australia have a few good ball-carriers at centre, but the Springbok defence has been very good from first phase and they coped well against France, who had big wings and midfielders.

The Wallabies will try to beat you through phase play, which means they can become very vulnerable themselves later on in the movement, around phases five to 10, when the attack is not as structured and there’s a chance for turnovers.

Australia also don’t have the best scrum and Stephen Moore being out will affect that even more. Their back row is also a lot younger than it was previously.

Centre Tevita Kuridrani is the big threat in their team with the way he runs inwards at the lineout vacuum – that area between the last player in the lineout and the first backline defender. He can be a handful running hard and headlong into that hole.

Flyhalf Bernard Foley is definitely a threat as well, especially around middle rucks, because he has good feet and gets quite flat so he is able to go at the inside pillars.

We just don’t know from week-to-week though what team Wallabies coach Michael Cheika will pick, which is the difference between the teams because we virtually know the Springbok team from one to 23. It’s settled, which is a big advantage, and they’ve had combinations now for five Tests and they’ve performed really well. The biggest positive for the Springboks is that consistency of selection, which means the players are confident in the people around them.

The Perth crowd can also be 50/50 when it comes to who they support between South Africa and the Wallabies, but the pitch is very removed from the stands, so the crowd is quite a long way back. It also makes it a bit difficult for the kickers because the stadium is just different to most others.

The other unknown is that the Boks have not been in a losing position in any Test so far this year, they’ve been in control after the first 20-30 minutes of every game. So that is the only box unticked – if they are 10-15 points down after the first half-hour or 40 minutes, can they come back? That is the only question mark against them, but I’m sure they can do that if necessary as well.

There’s real hope that we can win in Perth for the first time since 2009. Elton Jantjies is in such a rich vein of form, the defence is so strong and the attack has been lethal – scoring at least four tries in every Test this year has been phenomenal.

 

John McFarland is the assistant coach of the Kubota Spears in Japan and was the Springbok defence coach from 2012 through to the 2015 World Cup, where they conceded the least line-breaks in the tournament and an average of just one try per game. Before that, McFarland won three SuperRugby titles (2007, 09, 10) with the Bulls and five Currie Cup crowns with the Blue Bulls. In all, he won 28 trophies during his 12 years at Loftus Versfeld.

Titans & Lions kill 2 birds with 1 stone 0

Posted on July 22, 2014 by Ken

The Unlimited Titans and the bizhub Highveld Lions will once again be killing two birds with one stone when they start their pre-season competitive cricket with the Momentum eKasi Challenge, which the Southern Gautengers are hosting this year, at Dobsonville Oval on August 22.

The eKasi Challenge not only boosts grassroots cricket by bringing top franchise players to the townships, but also provides the team with valuable competitive action before the more serious competitions start.

The eKasi Challenge has become a sought-after trophy after just a single year – the Titans hosting and losing the inaugural match last August in Mamelodi – with Lions coach Geoffrey Toyana committing himself yesterday into playing his strongest available side, including five players who will have just returned from Australia on SA A duty.

“We’ll have everyone back and will play our strongest team as we’re looking to start afresh this season after being poor last year. Aaron Phangiso, Hardus Viljoen, Eddie Leie, Temba Bavuma and Kagiso Rabada will all be back and although I was planning to give them a break, they really want to be involved in the game.

“The eKasi Challenge means a lot for us, four or five of our players come from Soweto and it’s a great thing for them to go back and play there,” Toyana said yesterday at the Wanderers for the announcement of the venue.

Titans veteran Ethy Mbhalati said there is a similar sense of expectation in their squad.

“It’s very exciting, just remembering Mamelodi last year and the amount of people that came to watch, making a noise and supporting, that makes it a more serious game. I love spending time with the kids, it’s what I enjoy the most and there could be another Ethy Mbhalati in the eKasi.

“You just want to leave something for them, show them that there are people from the townships who are in top cricket.

“The guys are looking fit, we’ve been running and bowling and hitting balls for the last couple of months and we can’t wait for the season to start,” Mbhalati said.

It seems the cries of Black African youth in the townships for greater opportunities in cricket are being heard, thanks to Cricket South Africa, Momentum and the two Gauteng franchises joining forces in such an effective manner.

“I have to thank Momentum for coming up with this plan to bring cricket to eKasi. We would have had so many township cricketers playing at a high level if it had happened before. As Phangy [Aaron Phangiso] always says, ‘don’t forget your roots and where you come from’ – which is eKasi,” Mbhalati said.

The face of South African domestic cricket will change even more in the coming season with every franchise team required to field two Black African players and Mbhalati said the effect of this could be phenomenal.

“There’s always a starting point but we need to go from two to three to four. We’ve got enough talent, we don’t need to worry about that, it won’t be a problem. We can pick four now and they would do well, they would be there on merit.

“Maybe if this had happened in the past, we would have had more Makhaya Ntinis, Lonwabo Tsotsobes or Monde Zondekis by now. If you have three or four Black Africans playing then it brings even more hype to eKasi. If there’s only one Black African in a team, then people in the township wonder if they can make it, but if there are three then they think maybe they can be the fourth player,” Mbhalati said.

The positive effects of seeing role-models in action are obvious; and bringing those same heroes to the townships can only prove the success of the eKasi Challenge concept.

 

 



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