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Ken Borland

Fans licking their lips for top-class running rugby, but game-management the focus 0

Posted on May 26, 2016 by Ken


The Lions have produced some top-class running rugby this year and it is a style of play the Bulls are striving to replicate, which should have rugby fans licking their lips ahead of the big Gauteng SuperRugby derby at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday.

But Bulls coach Nollis Marais believes his team need to focus more on their game-management skills than on trying to match the Lions at their own game and run them off their feet.

“Sometimes we’ve been playing too much rugby in our own 22, it’s attractive to run the ball, but you can’t do it from everywhere. If you make a mistake there in your own 22, you will be penalised. Playing in the wrong areas leads to putting yourselves under pressure,” Marais said.

“We’re still having the odd soft moments, but it’s much better than before. On Saturday against the Stormers there wasn’t a big dip in our performance. It’s all about game-management and the more experienced the players become, the better they will be at that. We learnt, although it wasn’t a nice experience, on tour against the Brumbies and Waratahs. We’ve battled with decision-making and game-management in the last few minutes of matches, but we did very well with that against the Stormers,” he added.

The Bulls know that, instead of trying too hard to play a free-flowing style of rugby, if they can dry up the Lions’ front-foot ball, as they did so effectively against the Stormers, then the South African pacesetters could find themselves struggling as they did against the Hurricanes four weeks ago.

But the Lions are a couple of years ahead of the Bulls when it comes to the sort of ball-in-hand, up-tempo play that is bringing renewal to South African rugby, so if they allow the visitors momentum on Saturday, it could lead to a major setback to their playoff hopes.

Maties & Wits busy trying to catch top sides 0

Posted on May 12, 2016 by Ken


The University of Pretoria Tuks and the hosts, the University of Johannesburg, were at the top of the log after activities ceased in the first leg of Varsity Hockey’s men’s competition with the two Gauteng universities having won all four of their games, earning 12 points.

Tuks are in first place, having been more active in terms of scoring goals, with 15 being netted by the Pretoria students, who conceded just five for a goal-difference of +10.

UJ, after starting with a bang in a 5-3 win over Maties, were embroiled in three tough games thereafter, finishing with 13 goals but conceding eight for a goal-difference of +5.

Maties and Wits will be busy trying to catch Tuks and UJ when the second and final leg of the tournament gets underway in Stellenbosch on Friday, having both won three of their four matches.

Wits are fourth with a goal-difference of +9, while Maties have far and away the best goal-difference with +18. They recovered superbly from their defeat at the hands of UJ on the opening day by shutting out Kovsies 4-0 and NMMU 8-0, before producing an outstanding 9-1 hammering of Pukke to complete their Johannesburg fixtures.

Given their performances in their last three games and the fact that they will be playing at home, Maties could well be the side to beat.

UCT and NMMU, both with three points after one win, have an outside chance of making the semi-finals, with both playing the sides below them in the standings – Kovsies and Pukke – on the first two days in Stellenbosch.

It’s going to take quite a collapse though by Wits, who were impressive through their first three games at UJ before suffering a shock defeat at the hands of UCT on the final day.

The Stellenbosch leg starts on Friday at 1.30pm and it’s a massive clash between the two Johannesburg neighbours, UJ and Wits, that gets things started.

It will have a major impact on the log with UJ either going clear at the top or Wits joining them and Tuks on 12 points.

With wonderful players such as Taylor Dart, Gareth Heyns and Brynn Cleak – all members of the Southern Gauteng team who won the senior IPT  a fortnight ago, as well as Courtney Halle, Kyle Lion-Cachet, Tyson Dlungwana, Ryan Crowe and Amkelwa Letuka, who all played for the SA U21 team that lost in the final, UJ have plenty of scope for improvement.

Maties are also a powerful outfit, however, with goalkeeper Rob McKinley, Charles Bowren, Matt de Sousa and Alex Stewart from the SA U21 team and Western Province players in Dylan Swanepoel, Shannon Boucher, James Drummond, Keenan Horne and Daniel Bell. Former SA Schools player Reece Arendse is also a penetrative forward.

The Southern Gauteng B side, Wits, missed out on a semi-final place in the men’s IPT in a shootout against the SA U21s and they have several players in the Wits University side – Joshua Casaleiro, Kamal Ramburuth-Hurt, Rusten Abrahams, Brandon James, Chad Futcher, Stuart Philip and Thabang Modise – making them a dangerous unit.

Tuks have full internationals in Richard Pautz and Grant Glutz providing them with bite up front, while SA U21 caps Nduduzo Lembethe, Khumo Mokale and Tevin Kok also shone at UJ. Michael Marki is a former junior international and was the rock of their defence.

Tuks take on Maties in a massive game on the opening day and the local favourites will then meet Wits on Saturday, before ending the round-robin stage with a local derby against UCT.

Log (goal-difference in brackets): 1 Tuks 12pts (+10); 2 UJ 12pts (+5); 3 Maties 9pts (+18); 4 Wits 9pts (+9); 5 UCT 3pts (-1); 6 NMMU 3pts (-13); 7 Kovsies 0pts (-10); 8 Pukke 0pts (-18).

Highveld Lions have handsome lead but lus for more 0

Posted on March 25, 2015 by Ken

The bizhub Highveld Lions have a handsome lead at the top of the Sunfoil Series log after winning three of their four matches but, as their opponents this week from the other side of Gauteng would say, they are certainly lus for more.

The Lions hammered the defending champions, the Nashua Cape Cobras, by an innings last weekend in Potchefstroom and they can now take control of the four-day competition if they beat the second-placed side, their neighbours the Unlimited Titans, at Willowmoore Park in Benoni from today. The Lions are currently 16.22 points ahead of the Titans with the competition heading into a midway break after this weekend’s full round of matches.

“We’ve played some good cricket but we’re not looking at the league positions, the competition only really starts taking shape after seven or eight games. We just want to keep doing our skills right and do what we need to do to get results, that’s how we like to play. We want to make sure we break the opposition game down slowly, not try to win on the second or third day, but take it to the last day after tea,” Lions coach Geoff Toyana told The Citizen.

The other matches this weekend see the Sunfoil Dolphins, smarting from their defeat in East London against the Warriors, travel to Kimberley to take on the Chevrolet Knights, while the Chevrolet Warriors host the Cobras in Port Elizabeth.

The Lions married patient batting up front, led by Stephen Cook’s marvellous century, with disciplined seam bowling and penetrative fourth-day spin from Dale Deeb to beat the Cobras. Paceman Sean Jamison announced his arrival in franchise cricket with eight wickets in the match, while Dwaine Pretorius claimed four first-innings wickets.

With Pumelela Matshikwe also bowling steadily, the Lions have successfully adapted to the loss of almost their entire attack – Eddie Leie, Chris Morris, Kagiso Rabada, Aaron Phangiso, Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Hardus Viljoen all being unavailable.

“The most pleasing thing was the way the guys who came in performed. I’m very happy with the depth here, because last season I wasn’t happy when they didn’t come to the party,” Toyana said.

Titans coach Rob Walter knows the importance of the clash.

“If we can get a win then we’ll be in a great position for the second half of the competition, but if the Lions win then they’ll open up a big space on the log at the halfway mark,” he said.

The Titans’ first priority is to absorb the loss of batsmen Dean Elgar (wrist injury), Theunis de Bruyn and Farhaan Behardien, as well as all-rounder David Wiese. Graeme van Buuren should play his first four-day game of the season, having regained form with a century this week against Holland, while Heino Kuhn and Henry Davids will also have key top-order roles.

The Knights are having an even tougher time in terms of losing batsmen, with Gihahn Cloete, Reeza Hendricks, Rudi Second and Rilee Rossouw all unavailable. Gerhardt Abrahams, Michael Erlank, Patrick Botha and Diego Rosier are their replacements against the Dolphins. But in Quinton Friend, Dillon du Preez, Malusi Siboto, Corne Dry and Werner Coetzee, coach Sarel Cilliers is able to field one of the better attacks around.

The Dolphins have lost Craig Alexander to a hamstring injury, with coach Lance Klusener calling up promising pacemen Mathew Pillans and Graham Hume.

The Warriors are the most settled of the franchises at the moment and they welcome back Simon Harmer for their match against the Cobras, who will be hoping the experience of the returning Justin Kemp can change their fortunes.


Rain saves Gauteng Invitation, denies dominant England A 1

Posted on March 12, 2015 by Ken

The smart money was always on an England Lions victory over the Gauteng Invitation XI in their tour match at the University of Johannesburg’s Soweto Campus Oval on Wednesday, but rain ultimately saved the hosts.

Resuming on 43 for three in their second innings, England A captain Jonathan Trott went shopping for runs, scoring a confidence-boosting 79 not out before declaring shortly after lunch on 176 for five, leaving

Gauteng with an impossible target of 441, but, more pertinently, with 55 overs to survive.

Seven of the eight English bowlers used in the afternoon then took a wicket as Gauteng crashed to 120 for eight in 42 overs, before a Highveld thunderstorm came to their rescue.

It was another disappointing batting performance from a team which is largely made up of players in the Gauteng semi-professional programme, with Yaseen Valli (22), Bradley Dial (35) and Brian Barnard (18) the only batsmen to reach double-figures.

Apart from Trott looking solid, the fact that Sam Billings managed to score 53 retired and that leg-spinner Adil Rashid took two for 14 in eight tidy overs will also please the England Lions management.

They were also able to see pace bowlers Matt Dunn and Craig Overton, and off-spinner Adam Riley in action for a few overs in the second innings.

Matthew Arnold claimed two for 24 in 12 overs in a much-improved display in the England Lions second innings, while left-arm quick Cormi le Roux looked like someone who would not be out of place in first-class cricket.

The tourists now travel to the Cape, where they will play South Africa A in the first four-day ‘test’ in Paarl from Sunday.

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