for quality writing

Ken Borland



Sharks confirm worst-kept secret of Bok trio’s departure 0

Posted on November 24, 2016 by Ken

 

The Sharks have finally confirmed one of their worst-kept secrets and announced that Saturday’s SuperRugby match against the Stormers in Durban will be the last in Black and White for the Springbok trio of Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis and Willem Alberts.

As reported in The Citizen on May 19, the Sharks have been unable to hang on to the trio of hard men, who will all be heading for the riches of France after the World Cup. Loose forward Alberts is heading to Stade Francais, while the Du Plessis brothers will be going to Montpellier for a potentially awkward reunion with Jake White.

Hooker Bismarck du Plessis has been at the Sharks for 11 years and is their most-capped Super Rugby player, due to finish on 130 appearances after the Stormers game. Jannie joined the Sharks in 2008 and has 117 Super Rugby caps for the KwaZulu-Natalians, while Alberts arrived in Durban from the Lions in 2010 and made 72 appearances.

Chief executive John Smit told the Sharks website that it had been a privilege to have the trio in Durban.

“These three gents have played an instrumental and invaluable role at the Sharks over the years. It is naturally disappointing to lose players of this calibre that have given so much to Sharks rugby. As in many senior statesmen’s careers, they felt the time was right to experience something different abroad.

“We will never forget the many courageous performances from these three players, the countless outstanding performances and steals from Bissy, the rock-solid anchor at tighthead in Jannie and the enforcer in Willem. Not to mention Jannie playing the victorious Currie Cup final in 2013 with a broken hand.

“On behalf of the Sharks, I take this opportunity to thank them for their dedication, commitment and outstanding contribution to the franchise. We wish them and their families the very best for this new chapter they are embarking on,” Smit said.

Waratahs powerhouse Jacques Potgieter and newly-signed former Cheetahs and Biarritz loose forward Philip van der Walt will fill in for Alberts, but at the moment the Du Plessis brothers will have to be replaced by home-grown talent.

 

 

Glendower confirmed as SA Open hosts for 3rd straight time 0

Posted on September 29, 2015 by Ken

 

The wait to see which of the country’s major golf courses will host the 2015/16 South African Open is finally over with Glendower Golf Club in Edenvale confirmed as the hosts for the third successive time and sixth time overall.

At this stage, the 105th SA Open will be held in the same calendar slot as the 2014/2015 event, from January 7-10, with Johannesburg’s other co-sanctioned Sunshine/European Tour event, the Joburg Open, taking place the following week (January 14-17), which will not only encourage overseas golfers to play in both tournaments but also cut the costs for the Sunshine Tour.

“There’s a need for back-to-back tournaments because it’s not fair on the European golfers to make them travel back and forth to South Africa. It also means we save money on costs, which is important as well,” Duncan Cruickshank, the marketing and communications director of the Sunshine Tour, told The Citizen.

There had been strong speculation that Humewood Golf Club in Port Elizabeth, which has hosted the SA Open on five previous occasions, would be the venue for this summer’s prestigious event but the financial muscle of Gauteng has perhaps won the day.

Even though hosting the SA Open is of enormous value in terms of worldwide television coverage – Cruickshank said the exposure gained for the tourism industry by the tournament in January was worth more than a billion rand – sponsors are still needed over and above the huge investment made by municipalities and local government.

It is believed that the Africa Open at East London Golf Club is in some doubt due to a lack of sponsors, but it would be very sad if the Eastern Cape – and the coastal region as a whole – did not host a single co-sanctioned event.

Cruickshank confirmed that the Alfred Dunhill Championship would kick off the Summer Tour at Leopard Creek in Malelane from November 26-29, with the Nedbank Golf Challenge following immediately afterwards at Sun City from December 3-6.

The SA Open and Joburg Open are then on successive weekends in January, with the Africa and Tshwane Opens scheduled to go back-to-back in early March.

It was also confirmed on Tuesday that the 2016 AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open, the only tri-sanctioned tournament endorsed by the European, Sunshine and Asian Tours, will be held from May 12-15, 2016, at the Four Seasons Golf Club Mauritius at Anahita.

 

Fortune favours relentless Bulls in first win 0

Posted on September 17, 2015 by Ken

 

The Bulls fought relentlessly for their first win of the Vodacom SuperRugby campaign and, with some good fortune finally going their way, it came with a thrilling 43-35 triumph over the Sharks at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday night.

It was a much better performance by the Bulls, who made far fewer errors than on the opening two weekends, and had more fluidity on attack thanks to Rudi Paige starting at scrumhalf. This time they turned their pressure into points, mostly through the metronomic boot of flyhalf Handre Pollard, who piled on four penalties and three conversions in a faultless display before he left the field with cramp in the final quarter.

The Bulls just kept the scoreboard ticking over and led 33-22 on the hour mark thanks to Pollard’s last kick, before the Sharks pushed them all the way in a determined comeback.

Paige, so influential as a link man with his quick, clean service, tried a box-kick from the kickoff after Pollard’s penalty and his opposite number, Cobus Reinach, as alert an opportunist as you can get, charged down the kick and raced away to score a try that brought the Sharks strongly back into the game. As a tactic, the box-kick was debatable with Pollard behind him and the Bulls having carried the ball to much better effect up till then.

But Paige’s technique was also lamentable, with the scrumhalf stepping sideways from the base of the ruck to kick and not backwards, and there were no pillars shielding him, allowing Reinach to charge him down.

The Bulls began to falter under the pressure and, as silly errors crept in, the Sharks took the lead for the first time in the 72nd minute through two Pat Lambie penalties.

It was starting to look as if the Bulls, for all their endeavour, were going to lose their third successive home game and it was definitely not good news for them when Paige and Pollard went off with cramp.

But it was Pollard’s replacement, Tian Schoeman, who made a crucial play in the 75th minute when he kicked an angled, pressure penalty six metres from touch after the Sharks had entered a ruck from the side.

It was heartening to see the Bulls fight back, but it was a surprise when they won another penalty in the final minute and opted instead to kick for touch and try and chase the bonus point try.

Their positive attitude was rewarded however, even though the Sharks stole the lineout, as, trying to run from their own 22, the visitors knocked on and centre Jan Serfontein showed enormous strength to gather and force his way over the tryline.

The try was awarded by TMO Johan Greeff and it was mildly controversial. An earlier decision by him to award the Bulls a try was frankly disgraceful and it is high time this serial offender when it comes to poor decisions is retired.

The awful decision came in the 25th minute and up till then Pollard and Lambie had traded penalties for the Bulls to lead 9-6.

Fullback Jesse Kriel had sparked a counter-attack off turnover ball for the Bulls but he then threw a blatantly forward pass to Hougaard, who showed good pace and a nifty step inside, to dot down. It was referred to TMO Greeff who inexplicably gave the try, apparently saying that the replays he had were inconclusive!

Pollard converted and the Bulls had a 10-point lead, but it did not last long as Lambie kicked another penalty and then flank Renaldo Bothma, who had a strong game with ball-in-hand for the Sharks, charged through after claiming a kick-off, gave a lovely backhand offload to fullback SP Marais, who sped down the right before the ball went infield to eighthman Ryan Kankowski, who raced away for the try.

The Bulls had the final say before half-time, however, as they grabbed their second try.

Handling errors and wrong options had prevented them from turning pressure into points in their previous two games, but on Saturday night they were slick, patient and clever on attack.

A period of strong driving play and concerted pressure softened the Sharks defence before eventually the hole opened for the Bulls and Paige read the situation brilliantly to provide the perfect pass for flank Deon Stegmann to storm through.

The Bulls led 23-16 at the break and, although Lambie narrowed the lead to 23-19 early in the second half with another penalty, the next try also went to the home side.

Another patient, slick build-up in the Sharks’ 22 ended with Pierre Spies galloping around the ruck at the perfect moment for the perfectly-timed pass by Paige and the Bulls captain charged over for the try in what was a fine all-round game for the eighthman. The big star for the Bulls amongst the forwards, however, was flank Lappies Labuschagne, a tireless and powerful defender and ball-carrier.

Pollard’s conversion put the Bulls 30-19 ahead, but with Lambie also succeeding with every kick at goal and the Sharks certainly up for the fight, there was still plenty of hard work ahead for the Bulls.

That they managed to pull off the win, with a bonus point while denying the Sharks one, will be a massive confidence boost for the beleaguered three-time champions.

Scorers

Bulls: Tries – Francois Hougaard, Deon Stegmann, Pierre Spies, Jan Serfontein. Conversions – Handre Pollard (3), Tian Schoeman. Penalties – Pollard (4), Schoeman.

Sharks: Tries – Ryan Kankowski, Cobus Reinach. Conversions: Pat Lambie (2). Penalties – Lambie (7).

 

Hurricanes finally have right blend – Conrad Smith 0

Posted on August 25, 2015 by Ken

 

Conrad Smith is a much-loved son of Wellington and a stalwart of the Hurricanes side for the last 12 years, and he believes the franchise finally has the right blend of players to challenge for the SuperRugby title.

Captain Smith has seen many disappointments in those dozen years of SuperRugby, with the Hurricanes making the playoffs four times but appearing in just one final – the 2006 clash with the Crusaders which they lost 19-12.

And the one thing Smith, who is bound for promotion candidates Pau after the World Cup, has learned from those experiences is that champion teams need to have grunt up front.

“You need to be a complete team if you’re going to go far in this competition and in the dozen seasons I’ve played with the Hurricanes, we’ve always had an impressive backline but we’ve still come up short.

“It’s because we haven’t always had the complete team, but now our forwards are really fronting up,” Smith said after his team beat the Bulls 17-13 at Loftus Versfeld, their pack leading the way in securing their second successive win in South Africa and ensuring a highly encouraging start to their SuperRugby campaign.

Against both the Bulls and the Lions last weekend, sides renowned for having abrasive forwards, the Hurricanes pack really got stuck in and dominated their opposition.

“Hats off to the forwards, they’ve really carried us through these first two games. There’s lots for us blokes in the backs to improve on,” Smith admitted.

Although the Hurricanes boasted TJ Perenara, Beauden Barrett, Julian Savea, Ma’a Nonu, Smith and Corey Jane in their backline, it has been their work in the set-pieces and at the breakdowns that has highlighted their winning start to the season.

There has also been a noticeable improvement in the Hurricanes’ defence, with the Kiwis conceding just eight points against the Lions and 13 versus the Bulls.

“Our defence is something we have focused on, if we’re going to be there at the end of the competition, then defence is something you have to rely on. It’s what wins big games and we’ve been really encouraging there in the first two weeks. In the past the Bulls’ lineout drive has caused us real problems, and our defence of that was outstanding,” Smith said.

New Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd was delighted with the start, but was also cautious to not get carried away.

“We’re delighted with our start, especially winning at Ellis Park and Loftus Versfeld, two bastions of the game over here, and we’re certainly happy with eight points.

“But we’re not overly happy with the way we played tonight and it’s a 16-round competition. Two wins is great, but we could lose the next two or three games,” Boyd said.

However, with a top-class backline waiting to click and a mobile, willing pack, the Hurricanes now have a match against the Force in Perth and then a bye, before a run of home games. They must be a decent bet to challenge strongly for the playoffs if they can maintain their current momentum.

 

 



↑ Top