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Ken Borland



Back to school for Saru, who look set to fail again 0

Posted on February 13, 2017 by Ken

 

If the South African Rugby Union were a kid, based on their 2016 performance they would be the one who failed to pass their grade and has to repeat the year, hopefully being shamed into harder work and improvement by the embarrassment of sitting in a class with a bunch of people a year younger than you.

Unfortunately, if I was their teacher in that school, I would be forced to conclude already at this early stage of the year that Saru are doomed to fail again because they are simply repeating the same mistakes.

We are two weeks away from the start of Super Rugby and we still don’t know yet whether Allister Coetzee will continue in his post as Springbok coach. If he does – and that looks likely given how tardy Saru have once again been in sorting out their most important appointment (apart from arguably the CEO, who has done another of his disappearing tricks) – then Coetzee will once again find his planning set back by an administration that seems intent on tying one hand behind his back.

The contracts are apparently in place and the official announcement is supposed to be made in the next week, but we’ve heard that line before.

There is another vital appointment that Saru is also dragging its feet over and one that just creates enormous uncertainty amongst the best junior talent in this country and their parents, many of whom are probably sitting on offers from overseas.

Dawie Theron finished his tenure as national U20 coach in June and a replacement has still not been named. There is a great candidate – both in terms of the success he has achieved with young rugby players and the tremendous transformation message it would send – sitting in Potchefstroom by the name of Jonathan Mokuena, previously a manager of the Junior Springboks side, a winner of the Varsity Cup and a successful coach of the Leopards senior team.

But instead there are strong suggestions Abe Davids, the brother of Saru vice-president Francois Davids, is being lined up for the job.

Former traffic cop Francois Davids is also the president of Boland rugby, the union which suspended Abe Davids in 2014 for faking his coaching qualifications, and has been accused of such nepotism by the clubs in the area that the administration was called the “House of Davids”.

The only good news coming out of Saru lately  is that they have invested in getting Brendan Venter back involved with the Springboks. With him and Franco Smith, working with Matt Proudfoot and Johann van Graan, Coetzee will finally have back-up staff worthy of the Springboks.

Of course the name of Rassie Erasmus still pops up from time to time and the former Springbok and director of rugby has put in a lot of time and effort in plotting his coaching career-path. A leading Afrikaans Sunday newspaper seems be the PR company for his ambitions.

While the dithering and politicking carries on in the Saru boardroom, the All Blacks have already held their first camp together and the gap just widens. One would hope the news that the Springboks could be ranked as low as seventh after the next round of Six Nations matches would shock Saru into decisive action, but the wheels of their bureaucracy turn with the speed of a sloth.

 

Lions have earned universal respect despite failing to make playoffs 0

Posted on November 24, 2016 by Ken

 

The Lions may have failed to make the SuperRugby playoffs after their dramatic weekend draw against the Stormers, but the Johannesburg-based franchise has certainly earned the respect of all their opponents this season.

Just two years after they were controversially relegated from SuperRugby, the Lions have clinched second place in the South African Conference and boast an almost identical record to the Brumbies, who have snuck into the playoffs ahead of them because of bonus points.

They have maintained their positive style of play with ball in hand, but where they have improved most is defensively, boasting the best tackling success rate in the competition. The Lions play at the highest tempo of all the South African sides as they swarm around in defence and always have great intensity on the ball. Their powerful scrum has provided a solid platform and their lineout has also been efficient.

“It’s all about playing with intensity and hunger, and we have to up our performance every week. There are plans in place, but I also allow the guys to be free spirits and you have to live with the small mistakes that come from that,” coach Johan Ackermann says. “Obviously I’m very proud of the team, it must be one of our best years and it shows that hard work is worth it.”

The Lions have certainly deserved all the praise that has come their way, beating the qualified Waratahs and Highlanders in the last five weeks and showing all season that they are never out of the contest with some superb second-half comebacks.

“There’s great belief within this side, a real hunger. We want to close down the opposition’s space and put them under pressure. We’ve built our physicality in defence, we want to be in their faces and not stand back,” captain Warren Whiteley says.

Their impressive performances have seen several of their players grow into Springbok contenders. The most likely Lions player to feature in Heyneke Meyer’s Springbok World Cup squad is flyhalf Elton Jantjies, who dares to take the ball flat and attack the opposition line, has superb hands and is a strong defender, as well as kicking well this season.

Eighthman Whiteley is competing with Duane Vermeulen and Schalk Burger for a place at the World Cup, but he gets through a mound of work and is the only player in SuperRugby this year to have made more than 200 tackles, while also being highly effective in a linking role, possessing great skill and vision as befits a Springbok Sevens player who helped win the Commonwealth Games gold medal last year.

He is also adept at interfering with the opposition lineout, where Franco Mostert has also been a key performer for the Lions, as well as in the loose.

Warwick Tecklenburg has been outstanding in doing all the Lions’ dirty work, being second only to Whiteley in terms of tackles made, but fellow flank Jaco Kriel has been the most impressive forward.

A constant nuisance at the breakdown, he oozes raw talent in offence, having phenomenal pace, strength and hands, and has more often than not been able to spark the most sensational counter-attacks by the Lions.

Harold Vorster and Lionel Mapoe have proved to be two powerful centres, while scrumhalf Faf de Klerk and wing Ruan Combrinck are two other backs who have announced themselves as future Springboks this year.

Despite their success over the last two years, Ackermann says at the moment they are just playing pretty rugby and haven’t won anything yet, there is more growing to do.

“We can look back on a good season regardless of missing the playoffs. The players know where they stand with me and they know my expectation on deserving the jersey. As long as they do that, I can’t ask for more. The growth from last year is definitely there, but there is still a lot of work to do.

“Nobody has achieved anything yet. We are not in the playoffs, we haven’t won the Currie Cup yet, we haven’t won any trophies yet. But if you ask me if there is a lot of growth, both for me as coach and for the team, then definitely if you look where we started in January 2014 until where we are now,” Ackermann says.

 

‘Staid attack was Proteas’ biggest problem’ – Donald 0

Posted on April 11, 2016 by Ken

 

South African fast bowling great Allan Donald believes a staid attack was the Proteas’ biggest problem in their failed ICC World T20 campaign in India.

“The batting was mostly wonderful, but where we lacked was in our bowling – there was no serious x-factor in the attack, that was missing and you could see it a mile away. There was a lack of imagination with the ball.

“That’s a serious team that went over there but one thing it lacked, if we analyse it honestly, was x-factor. When it came to crunch time with the ball, we couldn’t come up with something while other teams always found a way and there was some amazing death bowling in the tournament.

“We just couldn’t seem to find that way to step up during the big moments, which was particularly heartbreaking against England. We needed someone able to change the course of the game, that’s what we were missing,” Donald told The Citizen.

South Africa’s former bowling coach wondered whether Dale Steyn, the one fast bowler with the skill and prior experience of turning games around, should rather have just stayed at home given that he only bowled six overs in the tournament.

“Why does Dale play so little if you take him to the world cup, I didn’t quite get that. You choose a guy after one club game but then you hardly use him, as a champion fast bowler should you not back him?

“Kagiso Rabada is still a puppy, Chris Morris is making his way, he’s learning but is an exciting prospect. But that x-factor ability to change games comes with experience, you have to have the nous, the ability to suss the game out, see what’s going to happen four or five overs ahead of time, like a Shane Warne or Glenn McGrath for example,” Donald said.

As a recent member of the Proteas management, Donald said he did not want to carp about the performance of coach Russell Domingo.

“The coach has to make some tough selection decisions and Russell is quite smart in what he wants, he’s quite astute and has a good understanding of the game. I’m not going to give him heaps when it’s the team that hasn’t produced the goods. It’s very tough for a coach in those circumstances, it’s the toughest job in the world when things go wrong. Russell has enough on his plate dealing with all those pressures,” Donald said.

Morkel leads Titans to title with one of the great innings in finals 0

Posted on July 30, 2015 by Ken

Albie Morkel struck 134 not out off 103 balls, including eight fours and seven sixes, as he led the Unlimited Titans to an unlikely five-wicket win over the Nashua Cape Cobras in the Momentum One-Day Cup final at Newlands on Friday night.

It was one of the great innings in the history of South African domestic limited-overs finals and Morkel shared the glory with Dean Elgar. His fellow left-hander scored 100 off 119 balls, his second successive century under pressure after his hundred in the playoff against the Dolphins.

Morkel entered the ring with the Titans in dire trouble on 60 for four in the 15th over, chasing 286 for victory, and the powerful left-hander took a while to get going as the Cobras pacemen attacked him with short-pitched bowling.

But the gritty Elgar and the determined Morkel dug in and would go on to add 195 off 189 balls for the fifth wicket, a record partnership and one that dramatically changed the momentum of the final.

Rory Kleinveldt had been the star of the opening overs of the Titans innings, dismissing both openers, Henry Davids for a duck and Jacques Rudolph for 4, but Morkel greeted his return in the batting powerplay by pulling and cutting him for three sixes in two overs.

Morkel reached his maiden List A century in the 43rd over, off just 87 deliveries, and Elgar reached three figures in the 45th over, before mistiming a pull off Kleinveldt and being caught at deep backward square-leg.

Elgar’s dismissal left the Titans needing 31 runs off 28 balls and one could sense renewed hope amongst the Cobras.

But Morkel then took complete charge, rushing the Titans to victory with 17 balls to spare as he ended Kleinveldt’s over with two sixes and a four and collected two more boundaries off Beuran Hendricks in the 47th over.

It was left-arm spinner Robin Peterson’s misfortune to see his first ball of the 48th over launched for six and the winning runs by David Wiese. Peterson came into the match as a key bowler, being the leading wicket-taker in the competition, but his contribution was minimal and questions will be asked of captain Justin Ontong’s use of his experienced star, limiting him to just 3.1 overs.

His reasoning was probably that he did not want a left-arm spinner turning the ball into the pads of two left-handers while Elgar and Morkel were at the crease, but none of his other bowlers were able to make an impression on the pair until it was much too late.

Off-spinner Sybrand Engelbrecht had removed Theunis de Bruyn (30) and Qaasim Adams (3) in successive overs to set warning bells ringing amongst the Titans, but Elgar and Morkel showed enormous composure and skill to first bat the visitors out of trouble and then into a commanding position.

Elgar has batted like a man with a point to prove after not featuring in the national team’s limited-overs plans, while Morkel continues to produce extraordinary match-winning performances at the evergreen age of 33.

Centurion Richard Levi and Andrew Puttick continued their prolific opening partnership but the rest of the Cape Cobras batsmen failed to chip in as the Titans pulled together and restricted them to 285 for eight in their 50 overs.

Levi and Puttick added 180 off 198 balls after the Cobras had won the toss and elected to bat first and really seemed to have set the home side on course for a total well in excess of 300.

But wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi bowled with wonderful control and guile, removing Levi, and the Titans bowlers applied the squeeze most effectively thereafter as the Cobras scored just 115 runs in the last 20 overs for the loss of eight wickets.

The powerful run-gathering abilities of Levi gave the Cobras the perfect start and the burly 27-year-old collected a pair of boundaries in overs from JP de Villiers, Wiese and Dala up front.

Puttick was content to feed Levi the strike and the pace bowlers were severely dealt with by the T20 international as he pounced on some friendly half-volleys and long-hops from the Titans, who also helped the Cobras by conceding numerous extras.

While Levi went to 104 off 113 balls, with 11 fours and a massive six, the spinners slowing him down, it was another day in the office for Puttick, who passed 50 for the eighth time in 10 innings in this season’s Momentum One-Day Cup, and went on to score 69 off 99 deliveries, a workmanlike effort that provided the platform for his opening partner to launch.

After Shamsi turned a delivery into Levi to trap him lbw in the 32nd over with the total on 180, there was much conjecture as to which batsman the Cobras would send in next to take full advantage of the commanding position.

It was captain Justin Ontong, a fine finisher, who came in but he could only score seven off 11 balls before being run out at the bowler’s end looking for a second run to fine leg which Puttick was not interested in. It was Shamsi who did the fielding, Dala completing the run out from a throw which was relayed by wicketkeeper Mangaliso Mosehle.

Stiaan van Zyl rightfully has many fans, but power-hitting in the closing overs of a limited-overs game is not one of his strengths and, when Puttick was run out by a sharp Dala direct hit, the elegant batsman was stuck with Omphile Ramela and the run-rate plummeted.

Shamsi completed an outstanding spell of one for 32 in 10 overs – he should have had two wickets but for Mosehle missing a stumping before Ontong had scored – and the Cobras batsmen were then besieged by the off-spin of Davids and tidy spells from Dala and Morkel.

The Titans were cock-a-hoop as they worked their way through the rest of the Cobras batting line-up, Davids claiming two wickets, Dala a sharp caught-and-bowled, and there was a third run out when Rudolph removed Peterson with a direct hit from mid-on.

The Cobras were grateful that Dane Vilas finally added the finishing touches to the opening stand as the wicketkeeper/batsman married innovation with the occasional swipe to score 40 off 25 balls before falling in an excellent final over from Wiese.

http://citizen.co.za/326546/one-greatest-innings-history/

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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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