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Ken Borland



All eyes on FNB Stadium as football, rugby & music share the stage 0

Posted on December 19, 2016 by Ken

 

Notwithstanding the awful events in Cairo, the eyes of much of the sporting world will be on South Africa on Saturday as a football international and a rugby Test are played at the same stadium on the same day.

Bafana Bafana will take on Burkina Faso in a friendly at FNB Stadium from 1.30pm, to be followed by the Springboks’ Rugby Championship opener against Argentina from 5pm, and it’s all to celebrate the birthday of Nelson Mandela, the Messiah from the Transkei, as the Parlotones call Madiba.

With a music concert to come after the rugby match, there is plenty of scope for things to get messy as a soccer field has to be turned into an international rugby pitch.

For the sake of the ailing former president’s good name, let’s hope everything works smoothly.

But the Springboks have a different kind of mess to try and avoid on Saturday.

Their last meeting with Argentina ended in a 16-16 draw in Mendoza last August as the Pumas turned the breakdowns, now the most important facet of rugby, into a messy scramble for possession. The naïve Springboks failed to protect their ball in the rucks, the cleaners weren’t there to hold off a horde of spoilers, and South Africa could never get their game plan going and were fortunate to escape with a draw thanks to a charge-down try by Frans Steyn.

This year, Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has tried to ensure the breakdowns are an area of strength for his team. Not only has he hired a Scot – Richie Gray – as a specialist consultant for that key area, but he has also chosen a back row that features two players renown for their ability in the rucks in eighthman Duane Vermeulen and openside flank Francois Louw.

With Siya Kolisi, another loose forward who plays to the ball, on the bench it is clear Meyer has placed new emphasis on the breakdowns.

Of course, quick ball still has to be used wisely and much will depend on how sharp scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar and subsititute Fourie du Preez, a hero of yesterday making an international comeback a la George Smith, are when it comes to controlling the game and distributing to the backline.

It’s easy to picture Saturday’s groundbreaking Test becoming a dour battle for territory.

Springbok flyhalf Morne Steyn spoke this week about righting the wrongs of that Mendoza shocker and using a kicking game to pin Argentina in their own half, while not spending too much time in their own territory.

Meyer sometimes errs on the side of caution in selection and strategy, but it is encouraging that he has chosen the likes of Willie le Roux, JJ Engelbrecht and Bjorn Basson in the backline.

All of them have formidable attacking strengths but they have also all made defensive blunders this year that would have been enough to send them to church on Sunday for forgiveness. But there’s no doubt fullback Le Roux has added vision and spark to the backline, Engelbrecht has the pace and strength to cut defences to shreds and Basson has brilliant ability in the air and tremendous pace on the counter-attack.

Forward play has traditionally been the strength of the Pumas and Meyer has identified that it is amongst the backs, where veterans Bryan Habana and Jean de Villiers are playing as well as they ever have, where the Springboks could have a clear edge.

The Argentina team has been rocked by the absence of star loose forward Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe and highly-rated prop Marcos Ayerza, but it is still crucial that the Springboks have done their homework on the new scrum laws, that seem tailor-made to the famous bajada scrum employed by the Pumas.

A weak scrum has done irreparable damage to several team’s chances already this year, but Meyer is a great believer in laying a platform up front in the set-pieces.

A great deal of work has also been done on the Springbok lineout, where the rapidly-maturing Juandre Kruger has returned in the number five jersey.

Providing everyone does their job clinically, the Springboks should have too much firepower for Argentina, who lost 27-6 to the Springboks in Cape Town in their Rugby Championship debut last year.

Speaking of debuts, Ewen McKenzie will make his first appearance as the new Australian coach when they take on the All Blacks in Sydney on Saturday.

McKenzie, the Queensland Reds coach until last month, has put his trust mostly in a bunch of players who led the Brumbies into the SuperRugby final.

Chief among those is Matt Toomua, the debutant who has been put in the crucial flyhalf position, ahead of Reds pivot Quade Cooper, who is back in the Wallabies squad after falling out with previous coach Robbie Deans.

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-08-16-preview-boks-and-bafana-have-their-work-cut-out-at-fnb-stadium/#.WFkjr1N97IU

Tight players could make the difference for Cheetahs in playoff 0

Posted on June 08, 2016 by Ken

 

All eyes will be on the Cheetahs this Sunday in their Vodacom SuperRugby qualifying playoff against the Brumbies in Canberra. Poor weather notwithstanding, the Cheetahs may have to rely on other team members to win this game.

The likes of Willie le Roux and Piet van Zyl have stolen the limelight as far as the Cheetahs go this season. But front-rankers like Coenie Oosthuizen and Lourens Adriaanse and new Springbok Trevor Nyakane, and locks Lood de Jager and Ligtoring Landman could have more impact on their Vodacom SuperRugby qualifying playoff against the Brumbies.

Much has been made of the Cheetahs supposedly being the most flamboyant of sides and playing the most running rugby of the South African sides, but coach Naka Drotské has put their best season ever down to improved defence and greater experience.

Brumbies coach Jake White is not buying the popular view of the South African side either.

“There’s this perception, it is funny how it works, that certain teams score a lot of tries and they run from everywhere,” said White.

“It’s not the case at all. I think the Cheetahs are probably one of the most conservative teams in the competition. They kick a lot, they let you play in your own half, and if you make a mistake then they pounce.”

White’s strategy to nullify the Cheetahs will be simple: he will be searching for momentum and front-foot ball and will want to dominate the collisions. But for that to happen, the Brumbies will have to secure good ball from the set-pieces and this is where a window of opportunity presents itself for the Cheetahs.

Oosthuizen and Nyakane both played for the Springboks this year and Adriaanse was an unused squad member, so the Cheetahs scrum should provide a stern test for the Brumbies. They will rely heavily on the experience of their tighthead, Ben Alexander, and hooker Stephen Moore, who have played 51 and 79 times respectively for the Wallabies.

The lineouts also provide a key area for the teams to launch from and De Jager, one of the finds of the season, and Landman, the admirable journeyman, will back themselves against Scott Fardy and Sam Carter.

The Cheetahs hid away at Coogee Beach outside Sydney for the build-up to the game and the ice-cold weather in Canberra, with even the possibility of snow being mentioned in the Australian capital, would have been something of a shock for them.

But they are expecting a hot reception on Sunday morning and the violence of the collisions will not be for the faint-hearted.

Since the start of the season, their loose trio of Lappies Labuschagne, Philip van der Walt and Heinrich Brüssow have been outstanding and they will also be key figures in Sunday’s knockout match.

The Brumbies have not made the SuperRugby playoffs since winning the competition in 2004, but the presence of George Smith in their line-up provides a link to their glory days.

The fetcher flank has not always been a favourite of White, the coach who took the Springboks to World Cup glory in 2007, but the clash between Smith and Brüssow will be one of the features of the game.

The openside flanks do also, however, rely on their fellow forwards providing front-foot ball or stopping opponents on the gain-line, as do the backs.

The pace and power of the Brumbies back three of Henry Speight, Joe Tomane and Jesse Mogg will seriously test the Cheetahs defence if they are allowed the space to run free, while the centre pairing of Christian Lealiifano and Tevita Kuridrani is the perfect mix of guile and brute force.

But the Cheetahs also have the backline players to hurt the Brumbies … whether the SuperRugby surprise packets will get to enjoy a successful uprising in the Australian capital will all come back to their forwards though.

If the Cheetahs manage to upset the Brumbies, it will ensure that the Bulls will host the winner of the Crusaders/Reds playoff next weekend.

The Reds will be hoping that the return of Will Genia and James Horwill will lift them after their poor performance last weekend that saw them just scrape by the Waratahs 14-12 in a game that they really should have lost.

But the Reds have beaten all other New Zealand opposition this season and coach Ewen McKenzie, who has been appointed as the new Wallabies coach for mostly that reason, will want to ensure that he bags the biggest scalp of them all in Christchurch on Saturday.

The Crusaders, however, are probably the form team of the competition and the four-match winning streak they are on includes the phenomenal 43-15 dismantling of the defending champion Chiefs a fortnight ago.

The Reds will not only have to overcome the seven-time champions at their home fortress, but also see off the talents of Dan Carter and Richie McCaw.

The All Blacks flyhalf has, typically, peaked at the business end of the competition, while the New Zealand captain has been named on the bench.

The Reds have not been as dazzling this year as their reputation suggests – and the absence of star wings Rod Davies and Digby Ioane on Saturday will hurt them further in this regard.

The 2011 champions have scored just 31 tries, which puts them in the bottom four, while the Crusaders have scored 44 tries, which puts them in the top three.

http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-07-19-superrugby-chilly-weather-could-put-cheetahs-on-the-back-foot/#.V1lZwbt97IU

Six changes in Bulls starting line-up in Sydney 0

Posted on May 12, 2016 by Ken

 

Bulls coach Nollis Marais, his eyes firmly on the potential conference decider in 10 days’ time against the Stormers, has made nine changes, six in the starting line-up, as his team end their time in Australia with a tough match against the Waratahs in Sydney on Saturday.

Jamba Ulengo, who only arrived back in Australia at the weekend, comes straight back in on the right wing in place of Travis Ismaiel, who injured his hamstring. Tian Schoeman and Rudy Paige will also be in the pivotal halfback positions, with Francois Brummer and Piet van Zyl on the bench.

With Jason Jenkins fit again and back in the second row alongside RG Snyman, Jannes Kirsten also returns to the starting loose trio because he is no longer required to also provide lock cover off the bench.

Lizo Gqoboka comes in at loosehead prop for Trevor Nyakane in the other change to the starting line-up.

Nyakane joins hooker Jaco Visagie and tighthead Pierre Schoeman in a new-look replacement front row on the bench, while Dries Swanepoel is in the utility back position in place of Dan Kriel.

“The main thing is we wanted to win against the Brumbies before rotating players, but unfortunately we don’t have that luxury. Not all our best players will be on the field, but the guys that have come in will bring something different. Guys like Tian and Rudy were good earlier in the season and we must get momentum for the next three games, which are vital,” Marais explained from Sydney on Wednesday.

The first test for the Bulls against the Waratahs will be up front in the scrums and Marais is confident his front row can get the job done.

“We started well against the Brumbies but then we lost a couple of scrums in the second half because of early engagement. But Lizo is a good scrummager, this is a good scrummaging front row and it might be the new front row for the next three games,” Marais said.

While rotation was always going to be on the cards for the last game on tour, Marais said the players are still feeling fresh and enthusiastic.

“We know the next three weeks will be very hard, but the guys tell me they don’t want to rest, they want to play. They’re lus to keep going,” Marais said.

Bulls team: SP Marais, Jamba Ulengo, Jesse Kriel, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Tian Schoeman, Rudy Paige, Hanro Liebenberg, Jannes Kirsten, Lappies Labuschagne, RG Snyman, Jason Jenkins, Marcel van der Merwe, Adriaan Strauss (c), Lizo Gqoboka. Bench – Jaco Visagie, Trevor Nyakane, Pierre Schoeman, Marvin Orie, Roelof Smit, Piet van Zyl, Francois Brummer, Dries Swanepoel.

Fisher Jnr looking to cap big year 0

Posted on January 30, 2016 by Ken

It’s been a big year for Trevor Fisher Junior and he could cap it all in the Chase to the Investec Cup Final over the weekend as he goes into the defence of his title at number one in the standings and with his eyes set once again on the R3.5 million bonus pool first prize.

Fisher Junior described his victory in last year’s event – winning both the tournament and the bonus pool prize – as life-changing and the 35-year-old then added victory in the Africa Open and a cherished European Tour exemption to his CV two weeks ago.

The Modderfontein golfer has a lead of 111.73 points in the standings and will collect a minimum of 180 points even if he finishes 30th and last in the elite-field event. Victory in the final comes with 1500 points, so that means there are 21 golfers who can catch Fisher Junior.

And Charl Schwartzel, South Africa’s highest-ranked golfer at number 33, is one of those in the field.

Schwartzel is currently at 14th in the Investec Cup standings, 1160.65 points behind Fisher Junior, but his focus is half on the Masters next month at Augusta, where he won in 2011.

George Coetzee, at number 67 in the world rankings, won the Tshwane Open at Pretoria Country Club last weekend in a display of impressive attacking golf and he will clearly be a threat this weekend as well.

The Investec Cup final starts at the Millvale Private Retreat in Koster, outside Rustenburg, on Thursday and, after two rounds there, moves to the Lost City course at Sun City for the finale.

Coetzee led going into the last round at the Lost City last year before being overtaken by Fisher Junior, so he has a score to settle.

The overseas challenge will be led by Morten Orum Madsen, the former SA Open champion, who is 19th in the standings.

The other South Africans who are strongly in the running for the bonus pool are Jacques Blaauw, second in the Tshwane Open last weekend, Danie van Tonder, Jaco Ahlers and the consistent Dean Burmester.

http://citizen.co.za/346429/fisher-junior-looking-to-cap-big-year/

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  • Thought of the Day

    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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