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Ken Borland



Ludeke shuffles his cards for crunch game v Lions 0

Posted on July 29, 2016 by Ken

 

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke is a believer in rotation and has shuffled his cards for their crunch SuperRugby match against the Lions at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, announcing a side with five changes to the starting line-up on Thursday.

Springboks Victor Matfield and Jan Serfontein are both over their injuries and return at lock and inside centre respectively, while Trevor Nyakane was always going to start at loosehead prop even before Dean Greyling had to withdraw from the squad with a knee injury suffered in a car accident in midweek.

But Ludeke has decided to rotate his loose-forwards, with two of his hardest-working players, Deon Stegmann and Pierre Spies being replaced by Lappies Labuschagne and Arno Botha.

Stegmann drops out of the match-day 23 with Grant Hattingh, making room for Matfield, able to cover both lock and flank from the bench. Spies has been unwell this week and will be a replacement against the Lions.

“It’s more about rotation than anything else. It’s very positive to have Jan back and Burger Odendaal is on the bench and can have a big impact later in the game. It’s great to have Victor back and Arno and Lappies have both come through their injuries very well.

“Trevor has had a huge impact already this season, we had quite a crisis at tighthead and he really stood up. He’s on a roll, playing well and there’s no mental fatigue with him. At the moment he’s a crucial part of our team,” Ludeke said at Loftus Versfeld on Thursday.

Ludeke confirmed that starting Serfontein at outside centre, where he plays for the Springboks, was an option and the shift may well happen if the Bulls bring Odendaal on for number 13 JJ Engelbrecht at some stage against the Lions.

“Obviously it is an option to play Jan at 13, but we know his combination with JJ works. At this stage a change is not necessary, JJ has no niggles and is going well,” Ludeke said.

On the bench, there is the potential for a first Super Rugby cap for Tuks prop Andrew Beerwinkel, a rising star in South African rugby.

For Matfield, who takes over the captaincy from Spies, Saturday’s match is all about finishing the job in the closing minutes, something the Bulls failed to do in their last-minute 22-18 loss to the Lions at Ellis Park four weeks ago.

“We’re all confident at the moment, we had a great away win against the Sharks and we were in the games against the Stormers and Lions. But we need to pull those games through, we need to know how to finish and convert our chances,” Matfield said.

Team: Jesse Kriel, Francois Hougaard, JJ Engelbrecht, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Handré Pollard, Piet van Zyl, Arno Botha, Jacques du Plessis, Lappies Labuschagne, Victor Matfield, Flip van der Merwe, Marcel van der Merwe, Adriaan Strauss, Trevor Nyakane. Bench – Callie Visagie, Morné Mellett, Andrew Beerwinkel, Grant Hattingh, Pierre Spies, Tian Schoeman, Burger Odendaal, Jurgen Visser.

Bulls will be without unsung hero Paige 0

Posted on June 27, 2016 by Ken

 

Scrumhalf Rudy Paige has probably been the unsung hero of the Bulls’ climb to the top of the South African SuperRugby Conference, but now they are going to have to do without the man who has become their attacking heartbeat for the crunch encounter with the Stormers at Newlands on Saturday.

Paige suffered a grade 1 medial ligament tear of his knee in the impressive win over the Sharks and will be out of action for at least two weeks, coach Frans Ludeke admitting that it is a major blow to his team.

“Rudy’s a very busy player and he gets a lot going for us, especially in terms of go-forward on attack. He brings a lot to our game,” Ludeke said.

The 25-year-old has not only provided a crisp, clean service from the base, but has also impressed with excellent decision-making in terms of who to pass to and when to probe gaps on his own.

Ludeke has two options when it comes to replacing Paige.

Francois Hougaard has played more rugby for the Springboks at scrumhalf than at wing, but the mercurial Paul Roos Gymnasium product has become an integral part of a Bulls back three that has produced some exceptional rugby and Ludeke could well decide not to potentially create two problems by moving him to halfback.

Piet van Zyl’s rugby has gone backwards since he moved to Pretoria, but he is likely to get a chance to shine now, at least for a couple of weeks, in the number nine jersey.

Stormers coach Allister Coetzee is keeping his cards very close to his chest this week, but he will be well aware of some Bulls’ weaknesses this season.

The Bulls are not a side that deals in offloads so the Stormers defence don’t need to worry about that, while, despite upstaging the Sharks last weekend at the breakdown, their record in the rucks has been far inferior to that of the Stormers’ this year.

You know what you’re going to get with the Bulls – the blunt instrument of forwards monotonously carrying the ball up – but it works for them and they have actually scored two more tries than the Stormers thus far in the campaign, even though the Capetonians boast the attacking abilities of Damian de Allende, Cheslin Kolbe, Juan de Jongh and Dillyn Leyds.

 

 

Sharks travel to Loftus Versfeld without robust Du Preez 0

Posted on March 17, 2016 by Ken

 

The Cell C Sharks will be without arguably the most robust loose forward in the country this year for their Vodacom SuperRugby clash with the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Friday, but Jean-Luc du Preez will be replaced by the under-rated and experienced Philip van der Walt for the crunch local derby in Pretoria.

Du Preez suffered what has been described as a “minor” foot injury in the Sharks’ gripping win over the Stormers last weekend in Cape Town, but Van der Walt, who has made a different, more dynamic if less physical impact off the bench during the Sharks’ three-match unbeaten run, is a more-than-capable replacement.

The 26-year-old former Cheetahs star is one of five changes to the Sharks starting line-up coach Gary Gold announced on Wednesday, a short week encouraging some rotation amongst the players.

Lwazi Mvovo returns to the left wing, with JP Pietersen shifting to the right and Odwa Ndungane moving down to the bench; Michael Claassens swops with Cobus Reinach at scrumhalf; and two of the replacement front-rowers, tighthead Lourens Adriaanse and hooker Kyle Cooper, will get their first starts of the campaign as Coenie Oosthuizen and Franco Marais shift to the bench.

Of course, making five changes to the most in-form team in the country does bring certain risks, but Gold is confident that the introduction of fresher legs will actually aid their momentum rather than harm it.

“We are really keen to keep the momentum going now and, as a result, our confidence will keep growing. It’s the reason we’ve rotated a few guys this week, we want to improve each week and keep on building as a team and we have a huge amount of confidence in the guys that have come off the bench. They have made a significant difference to our games at critical stages.

“There were a few sore bodies after the Stormers match, so it made sense to make a few changes.  These changes are not disruptive and it does mean that other guys that have put their hands up have an opportunity to start this week, rather than come off the bench,” Gold said.

Van der Walt agreed that the changes would not weaken the Sharks for what they believe will be another demanding away derby.

“We have a big group and the two different teams that played in France played just as well as each other, as well as allowing us to get used to playing with each other. So there’s no big difference or harm to the momentum we’ve created. The core of the team is the same, the coach hasn’t changed too much, it’s just subtle changes.

“It’s been tough sitting on the bench, but all the other loose forwards have played well. The team is my main focus and how I can improve the team, so I could give everything for 20 minutes and continue contributing. I’ve just been trying to do the best I can, luckily I’ve had good form.

“The competition for places is a good thing, it pushes you to new levels. It’s lovely to have, especially for the coaches. As players, you always want to start, but we have this added incentive now. Fortunately us loosies all get along well and we push each other too,” Van der Walt said.

The space on the bench created by Van der Walt’s elevation will be filled by Keegan Daniel, back in the country after a stint in Japan and poised to play his first match in South Africa since 2014.

The Sharks have tasted bitter defeat in their last four SuperRugby visits to Loftus Versfeld, dating back to June 2011, and have lost three in a row to the Bulls home and away, so they are right to be wary despite their highly impressive performance last weekend and the lofty heights they are currently enjoying as the only unbeaten team alongside the Brumbies.

“We’re not expecting anything different to the Stormers game, the Bulls back three is just as capable and they also always pride themselves on big forwards and big drives. And they’re coming off a good win and a good rest, so they’re definitely going to come out firing.

“We worked hard last week because we knew the Stormers have a good set-piece, especially the scrums, and we were able to stand our ground and even get one or two of their balls. If the opposition have a good scrum then that’s something you focus on, and we know it’s most important that we carry that same effort into the next game,” Van der Walt said.

The Bulls scrum has endured some bitter experiences in recent times, but they will certainly be working hard on that facet of their game, and the Sharks will need to be at their best in that department.

Sharks team: Willie le Roux, JP Pietersen, Paul Jordaan, Andre Esterhuizen, Lwazi Mvovo, Joe Pietersen, Michael Claassens, Daniel du Preez, Philip van der Walt, Marcell Coetzee, Stephan Lewies, Etienne Oosthuizen, Lourens Adriaanse, Kyle Cooper, Tendai Mtawarira (C). Bench – Franco Marais, Juan Schoeman, Coenie Oosthuizen, Hyron Andrews, Keegan Daniel, Cobus Reinach, Garth April, Odwa Ndungane.

Chiefs eager to win v Sharks without midfield maestros 0

Posted on February 16, 2016 by Ken

 

The Chiefs take on the Sharks in a crunch SuperRugby encounter at Kings Park on Saturday eager to show that they are still a winning outfit independent of midfield maestros Sonny Bill Williams and Tim Nanai-Williams.

Williams is recovering from concussion while Nanai-Williams has a finger injury, robbing the Chiefs of arguably the best centre combination in the competition. But with a hard-working, combative pack, two of the better loose forwards in Sam Cane and Liam Messam, the class of Aaron Cruden at flyhalf and still plenty of pace and power amongst the backs, the New Zealand side remain a formidable outfit.

The other important team news from the Chiefs camp is that experienced loosehead Jamie Mackintosh is back in the starting line-up to counter the presence of veteran tighthead Jannie du Plessis in the Sharks team.

The home side’s decision to keep playing their Springboks, Marcell Coetzee, Pat Lambie and Cobus Reinach all featuring in their sixth straight game, has dominated the news this week but it serves to illustrate the magnitude of the task ahead of them.

Coach Gary Gold is under no illusions and has given the Chiefs the favourites tag.

“The Chiefs are a championship outfit with outstanding strength and depth and they will go into this match as favourites. They have a strong pack of forwards and one of the most exciting backlines in the competition and are well-coached. We look forward to the challenge of measuring ourselves against one of the most dangerous sides. It’s going to be an exciting match-up,” Gold said.

The Sharks’ three defeats this season have come in matches where their game has been littered with errors and they simply cannot leave the ball lying around for the Chiefs to counter-attack.

“The thing about the Chiefs is that they are lethal off turnover ball so you just can’t make any mistakes or you get punished. Even kicking too much or kicking poorly, you just have to look at the statistics boasted by [wing] James Lowe to realise the folly of that.

“So far this season Lowe has run more than 500 metres and he has broken 15 tackles. Those are phenomenal stats and he is a big, explosive guy, and we are going to have to think very carefully before presenting him with an opportunity to run by kicking on to their back three,” Gold said.

Teams

Sharks: 15-SP Marais, 14-Odwa Ndungane, 13-JP Pietersen, 12-Francois Steyn, 11-Lwazi Mvovo, 10-Pat Lambie, 9-Cobus Reinach, 8-Ryan Kankowski, 7-Renaldo Bothma, 6-Marcell Coetzee, 5-Marco Wentzel, 4-Mouritz Botha, 3-Jannie du Plessis, 2-Bismarck du Plessis, 1-Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements – 16-Kyle Cooper, 17-Dale Chadwick, 18-Lourens Adriaanse, 19-Lubabalo Mtyanda, 20-Daniel du Preez, 21-Conrad Hoffmann, 22-Andre Esterhuizen, 23-Waylon Murray.

Chiefs: 15-Damian McKenzie, 14-Bryce Heem, 13-Seta Tamanivalu, 12-Andrew Horrell, 11-James Lowe, 10-Aaron Cruden, 9-Brad Weber, 8-Michael Leitch, 7-Sam Cane, 6-Liam Messam, 5-Michael Fitzgerald, 4-Matt Symons, 3-Siate Tokolahi, 2- Hika Elliott, 1-Jamie Mackintosh. Replacements – 16-Rhys Marshall, 17-Ben Tameifuna, 18-Mitchell Graham, 19-Michael Allardice, 20-Johan Bardoul, 21-Augustine Pulu, 22-Tom Marshall, 23-Hosea Gear.

 



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