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Ken Borland



Sharks come badly undone against superb Lions 0

Posted on July 02, 2016 by Ken

 

The Lions played with superb fluency and confidence, pace and power, to ensure the Sharks would come badly undone on their visit to Johannesburg, the hosts winning their SuperRugby match 37-10 at Ellis Park on Saturday.

After weathering an impressive first five minutes from the Sharks, the Lions were quick to communicate their intention to pick up where they left off before the June international break, their previous result being a similarly superb 56-20 demolition of the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.

The Sharks’ bright start withered in the face of some ferocious defending from the Lions and they simply pushed the visitors ever further from the advantage line, bossing the collisions and producing the quick ball that they flourished on, displaying wonderful skills and intensity in the process.

Flyhalf Elton Jantjies put the first points on the board with a seventh-minute penalty and the woes began for the Sharks as Paul Jordaan limped off with a knee injury. They had already been forced to make a midfield change when Andre Esterhuizen failed to recover in time from the hamstring strain he picked up during the week, which meant Jordaan was playing inside centre and JP Pietersen shifted to number 13 and S’bura Sithole came on to the wing.

Heimar Williams then came on to replace Jordaan and, with Garth April appearing flustered at flyhalf, the Sharks had a severely disrupted backline, the Esterhuizen/Jordaan combination being one of their strong points this season.

But what was unforgivable was the number of basic mistakes the Sharks made in the first half, starting with scrumhalf Michael Claassens basically bailing out of taking an up-and-under, giving the Lions prime attacking position. Lionel Mapoe produced an incisive run, Jaco Kriel, as ever, was up in support and made the final pass for wing Ruan Combrinck to score the opening try in the 15th minute.

The Sharks were also poor at relieving pressure in their own territory, allowing the Lions to mount relentless attacks because their kicks were often up-and-unders instead of touchfinders, and too often they did not find touch or grass.

The second try came after an up-and-under from the base rather than a lengthy kick to clear the lines, followed by Odwa Ndungane dithering and not claiming a mark that could also have relieved the pressure. Instead the Lions piled on to attack, lock Franco Mostert powered through close to the line and eventually centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg grabbed the ball out of a maul and swiveled over the line.

On the half-hour, the jittery April kicked straight to fullback Andries Coetzee, who launched the attack and Combrinck’s little chip behind the defensive line bounced wickedly for Lwazi Mvovo, again in the north-east corner of Ellis Park, with eighthman Ruan Ackermann gathering and passing to hooker Malcolm Marx to storm over for the third try.

The Sharks were 20-0 down and then butchered the best chance they had to get on the scoreboard when Mvovo’s pace took him clear, but his pass inside to Ndungane was a bit behind the fullback and the veteran dropped the ball with the line clear ahead of him.

While the dazzling attacking play of the Lions backline gets most of the plaudits, their pack is also brilliant and they deserve the credit for the fourth try, scored on the stroke of halftime, as the forwards went on the charge, battering through the advantage line until Ackermann, one of the stars of the show as he stood in for the injured Warren Whiteley, powered over the line with two of his colleagues behind him.

Jantjies’ conversion meant the Lions would go into the break with a commanding 27-0 lead and the problems that bedevilled the Sharks did not go away in the third quarter either.

April produced an awful kick from his own 22 that did not go anywhere but straight up, leading to a penalty slotted by Jantjies, and the ball-hungry Kriel then crashed over the line in a move that again highlighted the pace and power of the Lions forwards.

At 37-0 down with 22 minutes to play, the Sharks were really just chasing pride and their replacements, especially lock Ruan Botha, added some much-needed energy.

The visitors were finally on the board in the 63rd minute, Sithole cutting through the Lions defences and some clean hands by April and replacement fullback Rhyno Smith delivered the ball to Mvovo, who stepped inside and dotted down.

Six minutes later, Botha, who announced his return from long-term injury with a compelling performance in the Ellis Park fortress, soared high to take a lineout and set up the rolling maul, from which another Sharks import, replacement hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle, scored.

That made it five tries to two and, if the Sharks had managed to score once more in the last 11 minutes it would have robbed the Lions of a well-deserved bonus point, but Johannesburg’s pride held out to ensure they will top their conference and host the city’s first SuperRugby knockout game since 2001.

Sensational Lions ensure they stay in pole position 0

Posted on May 30, 2016 by Ken

 

The Emirates Lions hammered the Vodacom Bulls 56-20 in their SuperRugby derby at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday to ensure that they will return to action after the international break in pole position for the playoffs and with their confidence sky-high.

It was a sensational display by the Lions and it was their sheer intensity, pace, power and vision that blew the Bulls away, the visitors running in seven tries in delivering the sort of hiding that has rarely been inflicted on the home side at their Pretoria fortress.

The Bulls knew from the start that they were going to be in for a tough evening as the Lions earned a penalty from the kickoff, the home side not releasing in the tackle and Marnitz Boshoff slotting the kick. That was not the only time the Bulls erred at the breakdown.

Another Boshoff penalty stretched the lead to 6-0 and the opening try came in the 19th minute. The Lions were put on attack by scrumhalf Faf de Klerk’s searing break and the power of inside centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg then carried him over for the try, although the Bulls pleaded in vain for the visitors to be penalised for obstruction as there was crossing in the midfield.

The Bulls struck back from the kickoff though when the Lions misjudged the flight of the ball, which then bounced over the head of fullback Sylvan Mahuza, who had come rushing up to cover. Outside centre Jesse Kriel gathered the ball and stormed over for the try to cut the deficit to 5-13.

The Lions scrum then made their presence felt in the 27th minute, a big shove seeing the ball bounce out – was it out the tunnel or through the legs? – into De Klerk’s hands and the deserved Man of the Match launched a rapid counter-attack, finished by the pace and power of outside centre Lionel Mapoe, who would not look out of place in the New Zealand backline.

The Bulls, to their credit, did not harp on about all the 50/50 decisions that went against them, but it would have been churlish considering how comprehensively they were outplayed.

The Bulls did pull the gap back to 8-18 with a Francois Brummer penalty, but the Lions were firmly in charge at the break as another try took them out to 25-8.

De Klerk may have been the director of all the attacking brilliance, but this try saw the fabulous pack take control. Hooker Malcolm Marx, who was immense, ripped the ball off the Bulls to set up a series of drives and the home side eventually ran out of defenders, allowing powerhouse tighthead prop Julian Redelinghuys to stroll over the line.

The Bulls defence is one of the best in the competition – before the match they had missed the least tackles – but the Lions continued to cut them open with astonishing ease, thanks to the high tempo with which they moved the ball, and their wonderful vision and skills.

Flank Warwick Tecklenburg is one of the unsung heroes of the Lions and his inside ball to Boshoff saw the flyhalf break clear, earning a penalty for a high tackle, which he slotted to ensure the visitors continued the momentum in the second half.

De Klerk showed again just how dangerous he is with ball-in-hand in the 54th minute when he took a quick tap-penalty and was away in the blink of an eye; he had Jaco Kriel inside him and the brilliant flanker is one of the paciest loose forwards around, roaring over the line for the Lions’ fourth try.

The Bulls were 33-8 down but they did restore some pride with their second try, protecting the ball long enough to get a driving maul going, skipper Adriaan Strauss dotting down.

But there was little respite from the dazzling onslaught from the Lions: wing Courtnall Skosan ran a great line and received the scoring pass from captain Warren Whiteley, in a moment of superb play that showcased the eighthman’s wonderful appreciation of space and time.

Boshoff added his fourth conversion to put the Lions 42-13 up and things got worse for the Bulls when replacement flyhalf Tian Schoeman received a yellow card from referee Craig Joubert for a ruck offence after a team warning.

Shortly thereafter, the scrum once again got their shove on and the nefarious De Klerk was able to dart over for a well-deserved try of his own. Boshoff converted to put the Lions on the brink of the half-century mark and the hell was not over yet for the Bulls as a magnificent breakout by the Lions saw Skosan put clear on a switch move. He showed the pace that has seen him rightly rewarded with an SA A place, and he passed outside to Janse van Rensburg, who showed that he has speed to go with his power as he stormed over for the try.

Replacement flank Deon Stegmann scored under the posts for the Bulls in the final minute, but it was scant consolation for a side that were nowhere near their best and played off the park as a result.

Scorers

Vodacom BullsTries: Jesse Kriel, Adriaan Strauss, Deon Stegmann. Conversion: Tian Schoeman. Penalty: Francois Brummer.

Emirates LionsTries: Rohan Janse van Rensburg (2), Lionel Mapoe, Julian Redelinghuys, Jaco Kriel, Courtnall Skosan, Faf de Klerk. Conversions: Marnitz Boshoff (6). Penalties: Boshoff (3).

http://www.citizen.co.za/1136419/sensational-lions-thrash-bulls/

Selectors will seldom see Marchant de Lange in action … 0

Posted on May 18, 2015 by Ken

 

Marchant de Lange is one of the most promising fast bowlers in the country, but the new quotas that will be in force for domestic cricket from next season will ensure that the national selectors will seldom get a chance to see him in action, unless it’s in amateur or club cricket.

The new quotas demand that every franchise field six players of colour, including three Black Africans, in every starting XI, which is no doubt a worthy gesture towards ensuring cricket is representative of the country’s demographics, but, as with most attempts to fiddle with finely balanced systems, it will have unintended consequences.

One of these is that a 24-year-old strike bowler who has already taken 24 wickets in 10 matches across all three formats for South Africa is unlikely to play much franchise cricket next season.

De Lange plays for the Titans, who will in all likelihood fill their quota of Black Africans with two pace bowlers – Ethy Mbhalati and Junior Dala – and wicketkeeper/batsman Mangaliso Mosehle, who incidentally averaged 20 in the Sunfoil Series, 24 in the Momentum One-Day Cup and just six in the RamSlam T20 Challenge last season.

Cricket teams, much like food chains in nature, are a delicate balance and few teams will field more than four pace bowlers, with the Titans surely giving one of their other spots to Rowan Richards, the left-arm swing bowler and player of colour. De Lange is also competing with David Wiese and new signing Chris Morris, and the Titans are unlikely to pick him ahead of those two quality all-rounders.

Cricket South Africa already stand accused of trying to con the South African public that they really care about transformation after the World Cup shambles involving Vernon Philander and Kyle Abbott and Aaron Phangiso not playing a single game, and now they have rushed to implement a system that they didn’t even research.

I have it on good authority that Corrie van Zyl, the general manager of cricket, was caught totally unawares by the new quota proposal – it wasn’t even on the agenda – and I am certain that CSA did not even do the research I’ve done on what franchise teams will look like next season, because they then would have picked up that highly promising players of colour like Diego Rosier, Beuran Hendricks, Dane Paterson and Dane Piedt are also going to be negatively affected.

Hendricks and Paterson, who are both surely looking to play international cricket, are going to struggle to get into the Cape Cobras side for the same reason as De Lange – two pace bowlers’ slots will be taken by Mthokozisi Shezi and probably Tshepo Moreki.

Across all the franchises, it seems inevitable that teams will play two Black African pacemen, which is going to create an imbalance.

Some of the other talented cricketers who will not get regular franchise cricket are Sybrand Engelbrecht, Shaheen Khan, Keegan Petersen, Lizaad Williams, Daryn Smit, Calvin Savage, Daryn Dupavillon, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Corne Dry, Duanne Olivier, Gerhardt Abrahams, JP de Villiers, Roelof van der Merwe, Heino Kuhn, Graeme van Buuren, Shaun von Berg, Qaasim Adams, Andrew Birch, Ryan Bailey and Colin Ackermann. That is a major loss of strength for the competitions that feed into the national team.

The Highveld Lions are the one franchise that is not going to be affected by the new policy because they are already ahead of the curve when it comes to transformation. I went to their annual awards dinner this week and what a fabulous night it was with all the different communities in South Africa strongly represented.

But we are not going to succeed in making all our teams look like that and enjoy the on-field success of the Lions when administrators decide to implement drastic policies without even subjecting them to prior research or consulting the leading cricket brains in the country.

Isuzu & Blue Bulls finally united in partnership 0

Posted on December 22, 2014 by Ken

The announcement on Thursday of a three-year deal between Isuzu and the Blue Bulls will ensure that the union now has the bakkies that suit their image and that they will be behind the wheel of what most people would expect them to be driving.

Isuzu have been making bakkies since 1980 and the quintessential KB is now in its sixth generation and more than half-a-million buyers have the security of knowing they have bought a product that is built to withstand tough conditions. The Blue Bulls, too, pride themselves on being tough and reliable.

“The two most iconic brands in South Africa are probably bakkies and rugby and both the Isuzu and Blue Bulls brands are known to be as tough as nails, so it’s an ideal fit. The Bulls are an undeniable force in South African rugby with their unbridled determination, which is valued by Isuzu because we make the toughest, most durable bakkies,” Mlungisi Nonkonyana, the brand manager, said at the Gerotek testing facility outside Pretoria on Thursday.

While the partnership with Isuzu is a fabulous tie-in for the Bulls, they know that they are going to have to lift their own performance on the field in 2015 after failing to make the SuperRugby playoffs and being knocked out in the semi-finals of the Currie Cup.

“The performance standards have been set by the previous teams in our 76-year history, so our supporters obviously did not look favourably on us not winning any trophies this year. The pressure is on to rectify that in 2015,” Bulls CEO Barend van Graan admitted.

“There’ve been a couple of hiccups, but we have a terribly proud history and, with the squad we have, I think 2015 is going to be a good year. The Blue Bulls are not good losers, it hurts like hell,” John Newbury, the chairman of the Bulls board, said.

Isuzu bakkies are renown for being hard workers and Bulls coach Frans Ludeke, an Isuzu owner himself, will be hoping his team will replicate many of the same characteristics in the coming year.

http://citizen.co.za/278744/isuzu-blue-bulls-finally-united-partnership/

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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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