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Ken Borland



Bulls are more mature & more confident – flyhalf Schoeman 0

Posted on October 14, 2016 by Ken

 

Blue Bulls flyhalf Tian Schoeman says he is going into Saturday’s Currie Cup semi-final against Western Province way more confident than last year, especially since he has a more mature pack in front of him now.

Last year the young Bulls side were beaten 23-18 by underdogs Western Province, who used a more experienced pack to exert pressure in the set-pieces and forward exchanges and won the territory battle, but this weekend the home side are a more accomplished side with a big pack that has excelled in the scrums and lineouts in recent matches.

“I’ve got two Currie Cups behind me now and a bit of Super Rugby, so I’m more confident. I was quite stressed out this time last year and we didn’t know what to expect, especially in a semi-final. So I’m definitely a bit calmer now although there are of course still some nerves,” Schoeman told The Citizen on Wednesday.

“I’m also a lot more relaxed because it’s lekker to play with a dominant pack in front of you. Our forwards have really stepped up and in the last few games the set-pieces have been very good. We’ve been getting a lot of results from the scrums with pushover tries and the lineouts have been very good as well. That’s going to be very important for the semi-final because you need the set-piece to attack from.”

The Bulls scored four more tries than Western Province during the league phase of the competition and have focused on a more ball-in-hand, high-intensity approach than in previous years. Nobody is more important than the flyhalf in driving the game plan and Schoeman said they will stick to what has served them well in the competition thus far.

“We’ve decided not to change anything, we’re going to stick to what we’ve been trying to do. It’s a bit more running rugby and maybe a bit more risky, but we don’t want to give Western Province the opportunity to play. So we’re only going to kick when in trouble, but those exits need to be accurate because you don’t want to give the other team opportunities,” Schoeman said.

 

Snyman & Bulls eager to avoid repeat of last year 0

Posted on October 12, 2016 by Ken

 

Listening to Western Province coach John Dobson talking about the Blue Bulls having all the pressure as favourites in this weekend’s Currie Cup semi-final, it reminds one of the same stage of the competition last year when the Capetonians came to Pretoria and upset the home side.

Bulls lock RG Snyman is well aware of the history and is eager to avoid the same painful result this time around.

“We were in the same situation last year playing against Western Province at Loftus Versfeld and we’d like to change what happened in that game. The way we do that is by not changing what we’ve been doing this season, we have to stick to what we’ve been doing. But the good thing is that this semi-final feels like nothing new, it’s quite a difference playing it now when we’ve all been through another whole Currie Cup season and a season of Super Rugby,” Snyman told The Citizen on Tuesday.

The Bulls have focused on an exciting brand of rugby, but they went down 23-18 to Western Province in last year’s semi-final thanks to the visitors not allowing them any platform or space to play the type of rugby they wanted to produce.

This year they come to Pretoria with a much-less hardened pack and the Bulls youngsters are all a year older and coming into their prime, most notably Snyman, who turned 21 only this year.

“Western Province have a good pack and it will definitely be a physical battle, especially in the set-pieces. But if we can dominate at forward then we should do really well. With the break we’ve had a bit more time to prepare and the team has clicked a bit better through the competition. Hopefully we’ll see that greater experience and better cohesion come through now at the end of the tournament,” Snyman said.

Springbok reserve hooker Bongi Mbonambi will be coming to Loftus, as should prop Oli Kebble and lock JD Schickerling, and the Bulls are going to have to show some real grunt up front to ensure they make the final.

Bulls move into top two by hammering Griquas 0

Posted on September 20, 2016 by Ken

The Vodacom Blue Bulls moved into the top two of the Currie Cup on Friday night, playing some terrific rugby in a 57-20 win over Griquas at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Friday night.

With the Free State Cheetahs already four points clear with a game in hand, and the Sharks eyeing a bonus point win over the Eastern Province Kings on Saturday to join the Bulls on 25 points, the race for the second home semi-final now seems to be a two-horse race between the teams from Pretoria and Durban.

The Bulls were actually 10-0 down inside the first 10 minutes as they twice lost the ball inside the Griquas 22, allowing the visitors to counter-attack to good effect.

In the sixth minute, a strong run by centre Dries Swanepoel had put the Bulls on attack, but lock RG Snyman’s pass to scrumhalf Piet van Zyl then went astray and outside centre Jonathan Francke pounced, bursting clear before passing to flyhalf Elgar Watts, who kicked long for wing Alshaun Bock to show his considerable pace and chase down the ball for the opening try.

Inside centre Clinton Swart converted and then kicked a penalty from the halfway line after the Bulls had won a box-kick but been counter-rucked off the ball on the Griquas’ 22. The visitors were awarded a penalty and from the lineout they set up, the Bulls backline strayed offsides.

The Bulls stuck to their plan of mauls and box-kicks in setting up their first try, flank Nic de Jager bustling over in the 16th minute, flyhalf Tian Schoeman converting to cut the gap to 7-10.

But the Bulls then showed in the third quarter that they can playing different types of rugby to tremendous effect.

Their second try was a classic training ground move as hooker Jaco Visagie wrapped around at the lineout to get the ball from lock Marvin Orie, showing good pace as he then passed to Schoeman, whose inside ball went to wing Jamba Ulengo, screaming through for a dazzling try under the poles, the flyhalf’s conversion putting the Bulls four points ahead.

The lineout was a tremendous attacking base for the Bulls and, in the 25th minute, they stole a Griquas throw, Van Zyl running from his own 22 to the opposition 22, before Schoeman quickly passed the ball wide, De Jager getting over the advantage line and Snyman then bulldozing his way over for the try.

The boots of Swart and Schoeman then added penalties with the Bulls going into halftime with a 24-13 lead and obviously in the ascendancy.

The breakdown work of the Bulls was also excellent and the combined efforts of Roelof Smit and De Jager fighting for the ball won a turnover inside the first minute of the second half, Swanepoel having a dart and then providing a lovely offload for Van Zyl to race clear and score from 40 metres out.

Lock Snyman is undoubtedly one of the brightest talents in the country, but the over-exuberance of the giant 21-year-old was then shown as he made a dangerous cleanout, with a forearm to the face of Francke, which led to fullback Ulrich Beyers’ try being disallowed and a yellow card being given for his troubles.

But the Bulls scrum was ultra-efficient on the night, consistently dominating Griquas, and they won a free kick eight minutes later, allowing Beyers to make up for his earlier vile misfortune as he waltzed through a  huge gap in midfield to claim his first try since his return to Pretoria.

Five minutes later, Orie gobbled up a turnover to put the Bulls on attack and, from a penalty, Van Zyl took a quick tap and beat several defenders as he jinked his way over the tryline, Schoeman’s conversion opening a yawning 43-13 gap on Griquas.

A try to replacement lock Wandile Putuma, set free by substitute scrumhalf Renier Botha’s quick tap-and-go, was a rare ray of light for Griquas, but the Bulls were focused on more tries and they dotted down two more times before the end of the game.

Snyman cut through the defences like a death-ray on a brilliant 70-metre run, setting up a five-metre scrum for the Bulls. Another massive shove by the Bulls pack led referee Quinton Immelman, who had a good game himself, to award a penalty try. Schoeman converted and the Bulls had brought up a half-century.

Replacement fullback Bjorn Basson then scored a fine try on the final hooter, after the Bulls forwards had won a turnover, the Springbok brushing aside a couple of defenders in a strong finish. Schoeman, a composed director of affairs for the Bulls, added the conversion to finish with a record of eight from 10 kicks at goal and seal a top-class win for the home side.

Scorers

Vodacom Blue BullsTries: Nic de Jager, Jamba Ulengo, RG Snyman, Piet van Zyl (2), Ulrich Beyers, Penalty try, Bjorn Basson. Conversions: Tian Schoeman (7). Penalty: Schoeman.

GriquasTries: Alshaun Bock, Wandile Putuma. Conversions: Clinton Swart (2). Penalties: Swart (2).

http://citizen.co.za/1288455/bulls-move-into-top-two-by-hammering-griquas/

Griquas’ previous wins in Durban mean Sharks in no doubt about challenge 0

Posted on August 11, 2016 by Ken

 

If the Sharks were in any doubt about Griquas presenting them with a tough challenge in their Currie Cup match at Kings Park on Friday night, then the fact that the Northern Cape side have won their last two matches in Durban should dispel any notions of a stroll in the park.

Although the KwaZulu-Natalians beat Griquas 45-20 in Kimberley last year, Griquas won 21-18 at Kings Park in 2014, repeating their 32-30 triumph there in 2013, and Sharks coach Robert du Preez is in no mood for complacency this week.

“Griquas are a very tough side, they’ll be very physical, and we have to bring our A game to beat them,” Du Preez said.

While the Sharks at their best are able to keep ball in hand and stretch most defences, it will be up front in the trenches where Friday night’s game will be won or lost.

“We’re looking to keep ball-in-hand for longer and play more rugby, but the forwards need to create the space on the outside, they need to be direct and dominate contact. You have to earn the right to go wide.

“Griquas are always gutsy, they did well in the qualifiers and I think we’re up for a hard game. They’ll come out and play good rugby, with a lot of energy running on to the ball. They enjoy playing with the ball, they’re unpredictable and they also have their maul and their direct forward play,” loose forward Philip van der Walt said.

Griquas were the leading qualifiers from the preliminary stage, with 11 wins in 14 games, but the whole EP Kings saga has hampered the momentum they would have wanted to take into the Premier Division.

They were originally going to play the Kings in last weekend’s opening round of fixtues, but then it was going to be the Leopards and then they ended up eventually having a bye.

“It has been an unbelievably frustrating couple of weeks, it’s been difficult. We have been doing analysis on three different teams, focused training with a team picked to play the Leopards and then we did not even have a game last week. Some key players were rested for the last game of the qualifiers and the result is some players have not played for over four weeks!

“Mentally it has been difficult and after finishing as the first qualifiers we did not expect this, but we have been training hard, we refocused and will ensure we give everything to make our supporters proud of Griquas,” Peter Engledow, the coach of Griquas, told the side’s website.

 



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