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Ken Borland



Handling & defence chief concerns for Nollis 2

Posted on March 27, 2017 by Ken

 

Handling errors and poor defence were the chief concerns of Bulls coach Nollis Marais following their dismal display in Albany which saw them being belted 38-14 by the Blues at the weekend.

Despite having their fair share of possession and shading the territory battle, the Bulls were outscored by six tries to two and fell apart badly in the second half after going into the break level at 7-7.

“We were very competitive in the first half but we didn’t take our chances in the second half. We made too many errors with our handling and we couldn’t convert from the lineout. We gave them too many opportunities and obviously the defence is definitely a concern.

“We conceded too many points in the second half and we will have to look at that, re-visit our defence,” Marais said.

The Bulls allowed 13 linebreaks and missed 24 tackles against the Blues, and have now conceded 17 tries in four matches.

The Blues had won just one of their four matches prior to their meeting with the Bulls, who now face far tougher opposition in the form of the unbeaten Chiefs in Hamilton on Saturday.

“There will definitely be one or two changes to the team, but we’re not going to change structurally, we have to make sure everything is in place for next Saturday,” the coach said.

The scrums were perhaps the only area where the Bulls did themselves justice.

“It was a great performance in the scrums, Trevor Nyakane did really well at tighthead, and we were dominant there, so that was a very good positive,” Marais said.

“But we didn’t take our chances in the second half, we wasted too many opportunities. A couple of times we were in their 22 but we didn’t convert that into points either.”

 

As if dismal performance was not bad enough for Sharks … Lambie injured & Deysel banned 0

Posted on June 03, 2016 by Ken

 

As if the dismal performance over the weekend was not bad enough for Sharks supporters, there was even worse news on Tuesday as Pat Lambie was ruled out for six weeks and Jean Deysel received a seven-week suspension after his stupid red card against the Crusaders.

Captain Lambie has injured his neck vertebrae and his absence continues the curse of the captaincy for the Sharks. Bismarck du Plessis was named as the captain for the season but is currently suspended for an idiotic act of foul play, which his replacement, Deysel, has now replicated. Another member of the leadership team, Francois Steyn, is also suspended for a dangerous tip-tackle.

Eighthman Ryan Kankowski now looks certain to be handed the poisoned chalice and the responsibility of leading his team away from the precipice. Although, as director of rugby Gary Gold points out, the Sharks are still handily placed in the competition – in seventh place on 19 points, the same as conference leaders the Bulls, who do however have a game in hand – there is little doubt that they are standing at a crossroads.

If the Sharks don’t change direction, quickly rediscover some heart and sense of team purpose, then their season will probably sink without a trace. Alternatively, beating the high-flying Lions in Johannesburg this weekend would be just the tonic required to allow them to start forgetting about all the travails of the last few weeks.

Gold is not trying to make excuses but is also not just going to throw in the towel.

“It is an emotional time and it is a challenging week for us. People point at the scoreboard, and that is how it should be. But I honestly feel this adversity gives us an opportunity for real growth.

“We will fix it. I believe in these players, it is a great group of guys. We are just not playing well at the moment and nobody can deny that. But we are still in the hunt. It is not the end of the world, we are not in the bottom half of the table. We are just going to have to show some character. We are going to have to step up to the plate. It is as simple as that,” Gold said.

Lambie’s replacement at flyhalf is likely be Fred Zeilinga, who has shown he is not out of his depth in Super Rugby, while Renaldo Bothma should return to the starting line-up to replace Deysel.

What to do with our bunch of U19 losers? 0

Posted on February 15, 2016 by Ken

 

 

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula will no doubt call them “a bunch of losers”, while many cricket followers, judging by the comments I’ve seen, would want even harsher punishment meted out to the South African U19 team after their dismal display in the ICC junior world cup.

I would normally feel sorry for a group of young men with such expectation heaped on their shoulders to go and perform in a strange land like Bangladesh, especially since their predecessors, the special team led by Ray Jennings, Aiden Markram and Kagiso Rabada, claimed the title in the last tournament two years ago.

But when any South African team loses to Namibia and someone close to the squad slams them for their arrogance and lack of discipline and accuses some of them of just wanting to bolster their CVs before heading overseas, then I begin to wonder whether being charitable is the right response or should they face the music?

Coach Lawrence Mahatlane has come in for brutal criticism, but then he is an easy target. Being Black African, his appointment was immediately greeted with a chorus of “quota appointment”; having not played first-class cricket also counted against him.

I have had many private discussions about cricket with Mahatlane and, in fact, I have played in teams coached by him. Although the level of play and the pressures were obviously vastly different, I can assure sceptics that Mahatlane is as passionate about the game as anyone, including Jennings, and is immensely knowledgeable.

From what I have heard in private from people surrounding the squad, Mahatlane may have been on a hiding to nothing. The health of our U19 cricket always fluctuates, there has been a cycle of great sides and more mediocre ones for decades.

But while one can forgive players for maybe not having as much talent as some of their predecessors, there is absolutely no excuse for a lack of work ethic nor for an attitude that suggests “we have already made it”.

I would describe Mahatlane as someone who cares for his players, but perhaps, behind the scenes, they did not have the necessary respect for their coach, for whatever reason, be it his skin colour or his lack of a playing record.

Jennings was a master of getting such destructive attitudes out in the open and removing them from the set-up, but he also boasted healthy experience as a coach.

With the shocking results of the U19 team coming at the same time as the senior side were struggling against England, alarming questions bordering on panic were asked about the health of the game in South Africa in general.

We should take care not to lose sight of the bigger picture and the context in which these results have occurred. There is an awful amount of negativity feeding into cricket at the moment and this was undoubtedly partly to blame for the disaster in Bangladesh. If players already have it in their heads to emigrate and play for another country, how is the team going to perform, no matter how inspiring the management was?

For those blaming quotas, there was only a pair of Black African players in the loss to Namibia.

To counter-balance that, Namibia played in the CocaCola Khaya Majola Week – the U19 interprovincial – and their performance was underwhelming. They beat Limpopo and North-West on first innings, but lost to Western Province and Northern Cape and were thrashed by 192 runs by Easterns.

Those results perhaps show that there was something seriously wrong with the selection of the national U19 team.

Mahatlane’s position is probably untenable but I hope a place is found for him somewhere else in the pipeline because he has a lot to offer. In the meantime, South Africa have lost a top-class coach in Pierre de Bruyn, who would have been an ideal fit for the Junior Proteas, but is off to take up a lucrative contract in county cricket.

As Mahatlane pointed out, though, one of the key facets of U19 cricket is learning and improving as players, and hopefully the current South African squad has learnt some brutal lessons.

 

 

 

 

 

Bulls storm back after dismal first half v Kings 0

Posted on October 05, 2015 by Ken

 

A dismal first half put all their hard work this year at risk, but the Blue Bulls came storming back in the second half to beat the Eastern Province Kings 48-27 in their Currie Cup match at Loftus Versfeld on Friday night to stay on track for a home semi-final.

The Bulls trailed 17-20 at half-time as the Eastern Cape side pondered a sensational victory in Pretoria, but two moments of dazzling brilliance by scrumhalf Francois Hougaard led to tries in the 56th and 66th minutes as the home side pulled clear for a comfortable bonus-point victory. With the Cape mourning her side’s 62-32 thrashing at the hands of the Lions at Ellis Park, the Bulls now have a four-point lead over Western Province heading into the final weekend of round-robin action.

The Bulls’ defence around the fringes was woefully absent in the first half as centre Tim Whitehead and flyhalf Elgar Watts scored tries after breaks by side-stepping wing Sylvian Mahuza and scrumhalf Enrico Acker respectively.

They came out a different side after coach Nollis Marais no doubt laid down the law in the half-time break, and they employed the rolling maul to good effect, with Lappies Labuschagne (twice), centre Dries Swanepoel and replacement flank Ruan Steenkamp all scoring from the drive, which also caused two Kings players to be yellow-carded – replacement front-rankers Edgar Marutlulle and Schalk Ferreira.

Hougaard’s own try was a scintillating 55m effort as he broke from the back of a retreating scrum and beat half-a-dozen defenders with blinding pace, while he broke blind from a lineout drive 10 minutes later, Steenkamp cracking on the pace before passing back to the scrumhalf, who juggled and stumbled but powered on to within a couple of metres from the line,  substitute prop Werner Kruger scoring from the resultant ruck.

Scorers

Blue Bulls – Tries: Lappies Labuschagne (2), Dries Swanepoel, Francois Hougaard, Werner Kruger, Ruan Steenkamp, Jacques du Plessis. Conversions: Tian Schoeman (4), Louis Fouche. Penalty: Schoeman.

EP Kings – Tries: Tim Whitehead, Elgar Watts, JP du Plessis. Conversions: Scott van Breda (3). Penalties: Van Breda (2).

 



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