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Ken Borland



SuperRugby ended negatively so Blue Bulls look to set early marker in Currie Cup 0

Posted on August 03, 2016 by Ken

 

SuperRugby may have ended negatively for the team from Loftus Versfeld, but much the same group of players will be eager to lay down an early marker for the Currie Cup trophy when the Blue Bulls open that campaign against Western Province at Loftus Versfeld on Friday.

Coach Nollis Marais named a team on Tuesday that features just two debutants and only three players on the bench (lock Eli Snyman, scrumhalf Andre Warner and flyhalf Tony Jantjies) who did not feature in the SuperRugby campaign which ended with the Bulls just two points off the playoffs.

With Travis Ismaiel still recovering from a niggling injury, 23-year-old Jade Stighling comes in on the wing, while former Western Province prop Entienne Swanepoel will make his senior debut as the starting tighthead.

Springbok Bjorn Basson starting at fullback is the only other change to the regular backline that played in Super Rugby, the move forced due to the absence of Jesse Kriel on national duty and SP Marais coming to the end of his short-term contract.

“There are only two changes to the Super Rugby backline and just two debutants in the team overall. Bjorn was always an option at fullback, where we also have Manie Libbok. But Bjorn is a bit more experienced and is good in the air, and it’s just about getting the best players on the field. He was good for his Japanese team [Honda Heat] at fullback.

“Jade was very good in the Currie Cup qualifiers and has been waiting for a chance. Travis is not quite ready yet, but I’m happy that we will still have a good attacking back three. It’s a young team overall, but they have more Super Rugby experience, guys like Jason Jenkins, Jannes Kirsten and Pierre Schoeman up front are all a lot better players now,” Marais said on Tuesday at Loftus Versfeld.

Eighthman Arno Botha has been named as the new Currie Cup captain and the Springbok loose forward said he would be impacting more through actions than by words.

“The coach kept the announcement till the end, which is good because it keeps us on our toes. But it’s not a competition to be captain, it’s not about me as an individual, it’s about the team and I want to get the guys together and playing for each other. I won’t speak too much, most of the time I will let my actions do the work. Most of leadership is in what you do,” Botha said.

Team: Bjorn Basson, Jade Stighling, Dries Swanepoel, Burger Odendaal, Jamba Ulengo, Tian Schoeman, Piet van Zyl, Arno Botha (c), Jannes Kirsten, Ruan Steenkamp, Marvin Orie, Jason Jenkins, Entienne Swanepoel, Jaco Visagie, Pierre Schoeman. Bench – Bandise Maku, Nqoba Mxoli, Eli Snyman, Hanro Liebenberg, Andre Warner, Tony Jantjies, Dan Kriel.

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.

 

Winning Dolphins eager for even more improvement v Titans 0

Posted on December 10, 2015 by Ken

The Dolphins come to Centurion to take on the Unlimited Titans on Thursday fresh off an excellent victory over the defending champion Nashua Cape Cobras and eager to continue improving in their challenge for the Sunfoil Series title.

The KwaZulu-Natal side hammered the Cobras by eight wickets at Newlands to rise to second on the log, overtaking the Titans and leaving themselves 17.24 points behind the bizhub Highveld Lions with three rounds of the four-day competition remaining.

The clash at SuperSport Park in Centurion is practically an eliminator to see who will be the Lions’ chasers heading into the final straight of the Sunfoil Series.

“We’ve had some good days and we’ve fought our way through to where we have a shout. But now we need more consistency and if we can put together two good days in a row, that’s generally when you win matches,” Dolphins coach Lance Klusener told The Citizen on Wednesday.

Young pacemen Mathew Pillans and Daryn Dupavillon have responded in excellent fashion to the burden placed on their shoulders, while left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj is fresh off a 10-wicket haul at Newlands.

The batting has not been as spectacular, but Imraan Khan, capped once for South Africa, has accumulated 551 runs this season with two hundreds and three fifties, fellow opener Divan van Wyk is averaging over 40, and Morne van Wyk, Cody Chetty and Daryn Smit are all dangerous with the bat.

The Titans will boast a menacing new-ball attack in the form of David Wiese and fit-again Marchant de Lange, with left-armer Rowan Richards and either Ethy Mbhalati or Junior Dala in support.

While not saying the pitch will be a snakepit, Titans coach Rob Walter is confident there will be a result-wicket at SuperSport Park.

“Neither team wants a dull draw and there aren’t many of those anyway at Centurion. I think it will be a good, even contest that will go four days, hopefully like the last two games of last season,” Walter said.

The Titans finished last season strongly by beating the Knights by 32 runs and the Warriors by 87 runs, and a similar showing now could see them sneak up on the Lions, who are currently 19.22 points ahead of them.

Wiese performed miracles with the ball in those two games, with combined figures of 16 wickets for 204 runs, backed by leg-spinner Shaun von Berg and De Lange.

Von Berg’s current form – 17 wickets at an average of 48.11 – does not inspire too much confidence and he has been serving up runs at 3.5 to the over, but Walter said surfaces thus far this season have not offered him much assistance.

In terms of the batting, Roelof van der Merwe has been inspirational with 657 runs at 59.72, including three centuries, while Theunis de Bruyn is a rising star and Dean Elgar is due a big score.

Walter says his team needs to rectify some sloppiness that crept into their game in their last encounter, a 170-run defeat at the hands of the Cobras in Paarl.

“We had them in the first innings but then we weren’t clinical enough at the end to close out the innings. We also batted very well at the start before falling apart, so we need to be mentally stronger and make sure the opposition has to work hard for anything they get,” Walter said.

While the Highveld Lions are sitting pretty at the top of the log, coach Geoff Toyana is wary of either the Dolphins or Titans creeping up on them and says his team have to keep winning as they travel to Bloemfontein to take on the Chevrolet Knights.

“We’ve played some decent cricket, but we have to keep winning, every game is a big game,” Toyana said.

The Lions could have closed the door on their chasers in their last match, when they were held to a draw by the Warriors, finishing just 17 runs short of a meagre 98-run target, and they will be eager to return to winning ways at this crucial stage of the season.

The Lions went down to the Knights by 143 runs in their home fixture in Potchefstroom, contriving to be bowled out for 137 in their second innings after leading by 101 on first innings.

Off-spinner Werner Coetsee took four for 34 to hasten the Lions’ collapse to their only defeat of this campaign, and the visitors are going to have to adapt better to what Knights coach Sarel Cilliers said would be a dry pitch at Chevrolet Park.

Whatever the result, the Bloemfontein public will be treated to the sight of the best pace attack in franchise cricket with Chris Morris, Kagiso Rabada and Hardus Viljoen all in great form for the Lions. Dwaine Pretorius, who took eight wickets in three games before injuring his back, is back in the squad as well.

Eddie Leie is the chief spinner for the Johannesburg-based franchise but has struggled on unresponsive surfaces, taking just six wickets at 55 runs apiece. He will hope to bounce back to top form in friendlier conditions in Bloemfontein.

Cilliers said batsmen not making big scores and missing opportunities in the field were the two factors preventing his team from making a stronger challenge in the Sunfoil Series.

“There are a couple of critical things we need to get right again. We need to score big runs when the opportunity presents itself: We’ve had 22 scores of more than 30 in the last three games but no centuries. And we need to take our opportunities in the field because we’ve bowled with control,” Cilliers said.

The other match of the third-last round is at Newlands, where the Cobras host the Chevrolet Warriors.

The Cobras have struggled with so many players on international duty and are currently bottom of the log, with just one win in seven matches.

Stiaan van Zyl motored to a century in his last innings and if Dane Vilas, Justin Ontong and Andrew Puttick can show their best form, then the Cobras can post the sort of score that their attack, which has shown great potential this season, can capitalise on.

http://citizen.co.za/342224/sunfoil-series-preview-dolphins-vs-titans/

Titans eager to maintain momentum after bruising start 0

Posted on November 12, 2015 by Ken

 

 

The Titans took a bruise to their pride in their opening RamSlam T20 Challenge loss to the Dolphins, but successive victories have lifted the mood and left them eager to maintain their momentum as they head into a vital weekend.

The Titans travel to Bloemfontein to take on the Knights on Friday night, before returning home to face the Warriors on Sunday at Centurion in a double-header that also features the Dolphins playing the Cape Cobras.

“We weren’t happy with our performance in that first game against the Dolphins, we just didn’t adapt to conditions, we weren’t smart enough. So we’re very happy with our progression through the last two matches, but we’re still playing at only 70% of our capability. We’re executing better game plans and we’re very happy that the workload is being shared in terms of both batting and bowling,” senior batsman Farhaan Behardien said at SuperSport Park on Wednesday.

The inclusion of players like Graeme van Buuren and Lungi Ngidi has helped the change in fortunes, but there is likely to be another shake-up of the team this weekend with the return of all-rounder David Wiese after recovering from a hand injury.

While other captains are stumbling around in the fog when the pressure is on, Albie Morkel can chuckle and consider the luxury of fielding eight batsmen and nine bowlers – five pacemen, a dibbly-dobbler in Behardien, wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi, a slow left-armer in Van Buuren and offie Henry Davids.

“We’re seeing in T20 now that you need eight batsmen, you need that depth if you go five or six down. The last two games, we’ve had enough batting to win and that takes the pressure off Albie and myself, everyone is chipping in. It’s where the game is going and we’ve taken a leaf out of Australia’s book – they have guys like James Faulkner, Mitchell Marsh and Mitchell Johnson; Chris Morris, Albie and David are a wonderful addition to our team. We have three frontline bowlers and three all-rounders with a wealth of experience internationally,” Behardien said.

“There are so many different combinations and it’s a quality 15-man squad. Anyone on their day can perform, we probably have more variety with our bowling than any other team and a lot of guys who love batting under pressure,” Van Buuren said.

 



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