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Ken Borland



Bulls prove their composure to pip WP 0

Posted on October 17, 2016 by Ken

 

Vodacom Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais promised that his team were a different side from the one that lost at the same stage, against the same opponents, in last year’s Currie Cup, and they eventually proved that as they pipped DHL Western Province 36-30 in their thrilling semi-final at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday night.

The Bulls were probably worthy winners as they played most of the rugby, but whenever they looked like putting the squeeze on Western Province, they would make mistakes and the visitors were brilliant at scavenging opportunities and using them to the full.

It looked like the Bulls would falter at the same hurdle when Western Province went ahead 27-22 in the 58th minute and then again, 30-29, with just seven minutes remaining.

But the 2016 Blue Bulls showed their development in terms of composure and mental strength as they played pragmatic rugby in the closing stages to eventually edge home thanks to replacement scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl’s try with just 90 seconds remaining.

A try by wing Travis Ismaiel, after 10 minutes, with centre Burger Odendaal making a great run off the ball and then the final pass, made sure that the Bulls made a good start to settle the nerves.

But Western Province scored nine minutes later to make it 7-7 with a try that showed their pack was not about to be bossed around at Loftus Versfeld, the forwards marching a lineout drive for 20 metres and eighthman Nizaam Carr dotting down.

That seemed to fire up the Bulls though and they began to squeeze Western Province in the second quarter. Schoeman kicked another penalty (10-7) and then a huge scrum in front of their own bench that had their subs on their feet earned another penalty (13-7).

Western Province were clearly feeling the pressure as Juan de Jongh tried to carry the ball out of his 22 but was met by a firm head-on tackle by Schoeman and flank Roelof Smit, who enjoyed an outstanding first half, pounced on the turnover, winning another penalty as the Bulls stretched their lead to 16-7.

But the lapses that kept the visitors in the game, the little momentum-killers, then reared their ugly heads.

Smit fell foul of referee Marius van der Westhuizen at the first ruck from the kickoff, allowing Western Province flyhalf Robert du Preez to cut the deficit to 16-10 as the hooter went for the break.

The lead was then cut to just three points from the kickoff for the second half as flank Jannes Kirsten carried strongly as ever, but outside centre Dries Swanepoel went straight off his feet and sealed off the ball at the ruck, allowing Du Preez an easy kick to make 13-16.

The mercurial Schoeman pushed the lead back up to 19-13 after his lovely break had forced Western Province to go offsides to prevent a try, but the 25-year-old’s ability to deliver the sublime and the ridiculous within moments of each other was then shown as he provided the intercept that was snaffled up by lock Chris van Zyl, leading to wing Werner Kok roaring away for the try.

From that point onwards, control was slipping away from the Bulls. Schoeman, to his credit, would keep knocking over the vital kicks at goal, succeeding with all eight of his shots, but he also dropped the kickoff after his own 55th-minute long-range penalty to give Western Province prime position.

The Bulls conceded a penalty, which the visitors ran and lock Jan de Klerk stepped inside before barrelling over for the try.

Du Preez’s conversion put Western Province 27-22 up and the Bulls seemed to be on their way to another semi-final heartache when they lost their own lineout throw just outside the opposition 22. But they would get another chance as the clearing kick was taken by wing Jamba Ulengo, who raced off on a great run, Odendaal carrying the move on down the right as the Bulls roared back into the red zone. Several pick-and-goes later and replacement lock Jason Jenkins was over for the try, converted by Schoeman as the Bulls regained a 29-27 lead.

A crowd of nearly 18 000 roared the home team on – and was thanked profusely by the team management and CEO Barend van Graan after the game – and the Bulls produced an inspired period of defence on their own line.

But after their scramble defence won them the put-in at a scrum, they went down at the most inopportune moment, giving Du Preez a terrifying penalty which he nailed, giving him a 100% goalkicking record of 6/6.

Western Province were 30-29 ahead going into the last two minutes, but to the enormous credit of this young Bulls side, they kept their heads.

Van Zyl has just turned 21 and it was his smart break which put the Bulls on attack, only for some willing defence from Western Province to keep them out. The visitors did give them a lineout inside their own 22 though, and the Bulls were willing to show patience as they built the phases until the opposition just weren’t able to get enough defenders across to the next ruck, allowing Van Zyl to dart over for the matchwinning try.

It means the Blue Bulls are going to play in the Currie Cup final for the first time since 2009, and will travel down to Bloemfontein to take on the rampant Free State Cheetahs.

They are going to need all their new-found composure then as well.

Scorers

Vodacom Blue BullsTries: Travis Ismaiel, Jason Jenkins, Ivan van Zyl. Conversions: Tian Schoeman (3). Penalties: Schoeman (5).

DHL Western ProvinceTries: Nizaam Carr, Werner Kok, Jan de Klerk. Conversions: Robert du Preez (3). Penalties: Du Preez (3).

http://citizen.co.za/1315860/bulls-prove-composure-pip-wp/

There will be different Titans for Benoni & East London … 0

Posted on January 29, 2016 by Ken

 

There will be practically two different Titans teams in action this weekend as the defending champions look to get their Momentum One-Day Cup campaign back on track with matches against the Knights in Benoni on Friday and versus the Warriors in East London on Sunday.

While the Titans are currently in fourth place on the log, there are only five points – the equivalent of a bonus point win – between them and the competition-leading Cape Cobras. The Warriors are second with the same number of points as the Cobras, while the Highveld Lions are third, two points ahead of the Titans. The Dolphins are, like the Titans, on nine points and the bottom-placed Knights are on eight, so there is a real logjam in the 50-over standings.

While current Proteas Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis, Farhaan Behardien and Chris Morris will all be playing in Benoni, getting some valuable white-ball cricket in before the series against England starts on Wednesday, SA A players Dean Elgar, Qaasim Adams, Theunis de Bruyn, David Wiese and Marchant de Lange (called up on Friday) won’t be there for the Titans at all this weekend as they are playing a day/night match against the tourists in Kimberley on Saturday.

Coach Rob Walter said on Thursday that the Titans were inconsistent in the first five games of the competition, which won’t be helped by the raft of changes he will have to make between their sixth and eighth games, by when the SA A quintet should be back.

“It’s not going to be easy, we’re losing a lot of players so it will test our squad strength, but it provides opportunities for some quality cricketers. We’re under a bit of pressure to get the job done this weekend, we need points if we’re going to push for a home final.

“Of course we’ve been down this road before and we just have to make sure we get on a roll. We’ve been a bit inconsistent with both bat and ball and have struggled to put both facets together in the same game. But we have a strong side to play the Knights, who are always tough and offer very strong resistance,” Walter said.

The likes of Grant Thomson, Graeme van Buuren, Heinrich Klaasen and Rowan Richards, who were all successful in the first half of the competition, should be in contention to fill in on Sunday in East London.

Titans squad v Knights – Henry Davids, Quinton de Kock, Heino Kuhn, Faf du Plessis, Farhaan Behardien, Grant Mokoena, Mangaliso Mosehle, Albie Morkel, Chris Morris, Tabraiz Shamsi, Junior Dala, Grant Thomson, Ethy Mbhalati.

 

 

Titans have so many bowling options – Morris 0

Posted on December 10, 2015 by Ken

 

“We have so many different options that we have guys who can bowl anything, in any situation, on any pitch,” Chris Morris, the RamSlam T20 Challenge’s leading wicket-taker, said on Wednesday as he discussed the Titans’ bowling attack ahead of the final in Centurion on Saturday.

The Titans won an astonishing eight games in a row to comfortably top the log by 13 points and their bowlers have led the way with six in the top-20 of the averages, all-rounders David Wiese, Albie Morkel and Morris all being in the top four. Fast bowler Junior Dala and wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi have also excelled, and the Titans have other options in Lungi Ngidi, off-spinner Henry Davids and slow left-armer Graeme van Buuren.

“It’s gone pretty well for us as a unit and it has made it a lot easier for me knowing that there are a lot of other bowlers who can step up. The new guys have done very well and there’s a lot of back-up. I’ve never been in a team before that has every base so well covered,” Morris, who has taken 18 wickets, said.

The former Highveld Lions star said the Titans will go into the final eager just to keep enjoying themselves.

“The way Albie has captained the side has been aggressive and solid and we’re always looking to take wickets. We’re looking at Albie and Farhaan Behardien to see how they handle themselves before the final, it’s finals week, it doesn’t happen often, especially at home. We must just enjoy it – my theory is that you see the best catches in garden cricket because the guys are just having fun. So it’s vital for us to enjoy the final and it’s much more difficult to play against a happy team,” Morris said.

 

 

High time at Loftus as the Bulls rapidly evolve 0

Posted on October 14, 2015 by Ken

 

Just four months ago, the Blue Bulls Rugby Union was in a sorry state with Frans Ludeke about to be axed as coach, the SuperRugby side ending a miserable campaign with a humiliating loss at home to the Cheetahs, and the players, management and administrators all pulling in different directions.

The atmosphere at Loftus Versfeld was so bad and so stuck in its ways that I called them dinosaurs in this same column.

But since then, there has been rapid evolution and their fortunes have soared with new coach Nollis Marais taking them to a home semi-final in the Currie Cup, playing a fresh, invigorating brand of rugby that has brought the crowds back to Loftus Versfeld, and giving much of the young talent that was being unused and growing frustrated the chance to shine.

Marais has already received his reward in that he has been confirmed as the SuperRugby coach and he has been given a four-year contract, an incredible sign of faith from a Bulls board that has never been known for its willingness to take a chance.

But CEO Barend van Graan said the sight of families returning in droves to Loftus Versfeld made it an easy decision.

“We can see how the tide has turned the last few weeks and attendances have been double what they were compared to last year, nearly the same as for SuperRugby games. Not many applicants reached the standards we require and it was not a difficult decision, Nollis had the inside track because of what has happened in the Currie Cup.

“Our expectations are high, if not I’m sure we would have only given him a one or two-year contract. But we have a lot of confidence in Nollis and he now has the opportunity to build for the next four years. He’s already brought through a number of young, excellent players,” Van Graan said.

While Marais has thoroughly updated the Bulls’ style of play, credit must also go to Van Graan and his board for realising that they need to adapt as well. The CEO said the BBRU would need to adjust their strategies.

“There are decreasing White numbers in our area, the whole demographic of Pretoria is changing dramatically. There are eight PSL teams in Gauteng, plus one each in North-West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga, so this is a soccer region. The average crowd for a PSL game is 5000.

“Twenty-eight percent of the Blue Bulls’ support comes from the Eastern Cape and 98% of that is Black, most of whom don’t have pay-TV at home. So we have to revise our strategy and penetrate new markets. In the last five years, we have seen a decline of more than 70% on the number of tickets sold at the ground. People just buy tickets on the internet now and they’re no longer buying season tickets,” Van Graan pointed out.

The Bulls have earned a reputation for being aggressive recruiters of junior players, but their showcase teams have also suffered due to a revolving door of players leaving or losing their contracts.

“Since 2011, we have lost 57 players, a lot of them to the Euro, Yen and British Pound. But things are cyclical in a team sport, you have to let guys go, but perhaps we released too many players, in hindsight. The last six or seven SA U21 captains have come from here, but our Currie Cup side will be even younger next year so we need to be smart in our recruiting. We need to fast-track talent, but only five percent of the schools in our region play rugby,” Van Graan said.

Marais has given the Bulls a new lease of life on the field and credit should also be given to Van Graan and the board for identifying the new direction the BBRU has to take. If they continue along this path, there’s no reason why the Bulls shouldn’t in time become the most powerful union in the country again.

 

 

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    1 Corinthians 3:3 - "For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?"

    One of my favourite U2 songs is a collaboration with Johnny Cash called The Wanderer, and it features the line "they say they want the kingdom, but they don't want God in it".
    Many people say they believe in God, but they don't experience his loving presence. They may be active in Christian work, but only if they have their way. If they cannot be leaders, they refuse to be involved.
    Because they refuse to allow God to fill their lives with his love, they remain weak and powerless.
    Spiritual maturity means developing a greater love for others.

    "When the love of Christ saturates you, immature attitudes such as pettiness, jealousy and strife are dissolved.
    "It is only when you have an intimate relationship with the Lord that you receive sufficient grace to rise above this immaturity and enjoy the solid food that the Holy Spirit gives you." - Solly Ozrovech, A Shelter From The Storm



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