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Ken Borland

Bulls move into top two by hammering Griquas 0

Posted on September 20, 2016 by Ken

The Vodacom Blue Bulls moved into the top two of the Currie Cup on Friday night, playing some terrific rugby in a 57-20 win over Griquas at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Friday night.

With the Free State Cheetahs already four points clear with a game in hand, and the Sharks eyeing a bonus point win over the Eastern Province Kings on Saturday to join the Bulls on 25 points, the race for the second home semi-final now seems to be a two-horse race between the teams from Pretoria and Durban.

The Bulls were actually 10-0 down inside the first 10 minutes as they twice lost the ball inside the Griquas 22, allowing the visitors to counter-attack to good effect.

In the sixth minute, a strong run by centre Dries Swanepoel had put the Bulls on attack, but lock RG Snyman’s pass to scrumhalf Piet van Zyl then went astray and outside centre Jonathan Francke pounced, bursting clear before passing to flyhalf Elgar Watts, who kicked long for wing Alshaun Bock to show his considerable pace and chase down the ball for the opening try.

Inside centre Clinton Swart converted and then kicked a penalty from the halfway line after the Bulls had won a box-kick but been counter-rucked off the ball on the Griquas’ 22. The visitors were awarded a penalty and from the lineout they set up, the Bulls backline strayed offsides.

The Bulls stuck to their plan of mauls and box-kicks in setting up their first try, flank Nic de Jager bustling over in the 16th minute, flyhalf Tian Schoeman converting to cut the gap to 7-10.

But the Bulls then showed in the third quarter that they can playing different types of rugby to tremendous effect.

Their second try was a classic training ground move as hooker Jaco Visagie wrapped around at the lineout to get the ball from lock Marvin Orie, showing good pace as he then passed to Schoeman, whose inside ball went to wing Jamba Ulengo, screaming through for a dazzling try under the poles, the flyhalf’s conversion putting the Bulls four points ahead.

The lineout was a tremendous attacking base for the Bulls and, in the 25th minute, they stole a Griquas throw, Van Zyl running from his own 22 to the opposition 22, before Schoeman quickly passed the ball wide, De Jager getting over the advantage line and Snyman then bulldozing his way over for the try.

The boots of Swart and Schoeman then added penalties with the Bulls going into halftime with a 24-13 lead and obviously in the ascendancy.

The breakdown work of the Bulls was also excellent and the combined efforts of Roelof Smit and De Jager fighting for the ball won a turnover inside the first minute of the second half, Swanepoel having a dart and then providing a lovely offload for Van Zyl to race clear and score from 40 metres out.

Lock Snyman is undoubtedly one of the brightest talents in the country, but the over-exuberance of the giant 21-year-old was then shown as he made a dangerous cleanout, with a forearm to the face of Francke, which led to fullback Ulrich Beyers’ try being disallowed and a yellow card being given for his troubles.

But the Bulls scrum was ultra-efficient on the night, consistently dominating Griquas, and they won a free kick eight minutes later, allowing Beyers to make up for his earlier vile misfortune as he waltzed through a  huge gap in midfield to claim his first try since his return to Pretoria.

Five minutes later, Orie gobbled up a turnover to put the Bulls on attack and, from a penalty, Van Zyl took a quick tap and beat several defenders as he jinked his way over the tryline, Schoeman’s conversion opening a yawning 43-13 gap on Griquas.

A try to replacement lock Wandile Putuma, set free by substitute scrumhalf Renier Botha’s quick tap-and-go, was a rare ray of light for Griquas, but the Bulls were focused on more tries and they dotted down two more times before the end of the game.

Snyman cut through the defences like a death-ray on a brilliant 70-metre run, setting up a five-metre scrum for the Bulls. Another massive shove by the Bulls pack led referee Quinton Immelman, who had a good game himself, to award a penalty try. Schoeman converted and the Bulls had brought up a half-century.

Replacement fullback Bjorn Basson then scored a fine try on the final hooter, after the Bulls forwards had won a turnover, the Springbok brushing aside a couple of defenders in a strong finish. Schoeman, a composed director of affairs for the Bulls, added the conversion to finish with a record of eight from 10 kicks at goal and seal a top-class win for the home side.


Vodacom Blue BullsTries: Nic de Jager, Jamba Ulengo, RG Snyman, Piet van Zyl (2), Ulrich Beyers, Penalty try, Bjorn Basson. Conversions: Tian Schoeman (7). Penalty: Schoeman.

GriquasTries: Alshaun Bock, Wandile Putuma. Conversions: Clinton Swart (2). Penalties: Swart (2).

Griquas’ previous wins in Durban mean Sharks in no doubt about challenge 0

Posted on August 11, 2016 by Ken


If the Sharks were in any doubt about Griquas presenting them with a tough challenge in their Currie Cup match at Kings Park on Friday night, then the fact that the Northern Cape side have won their last two matches in Durban should dispel any notions of a stroll in the park.

Although the KwaZulu-Natalians beat Griquas 45-20 in Kimberley last year, Griquas won 21-18 at Kings Park in 2014, repeating their 32-30 triumph there in 2013, and Sharks coach Robert du Preez is in no mood for complacency this week.

“Griquas are a very tough side, they’ll be very physical, and we have to bring our A game to beat them,” Du Preez said.

While the Sharks at their best are able to keep ball in hand and stretch most defences, it will be up front in the trenches where Friday night’s game will be won or lost.

“We’re looking to keep ball-in-hand for longer and play more rugby, but the forwards need to create the space on the outside, they need to be direct and dominate contact. You have to earn the right to go wide.

“Griquas are always gutsy, they did well in the qualifiers and I think we’re up for a hard game. They’ll come out and play good rugby, with a lot of energy running on to the ball. They enjoy playing with the ball, they’re unpredictable and they also have their maul and their direct forward play,” loose forward Philip van der Walt said.

Griquas were the leading qualifiers from the preliminary stage, with 11 wins in 14 games, but the whole EP Kings saga has hampered the momentum they would have wanted to take into the Premier Division.

They were originally going to play the Kings in last weekend’s opening round of fixtues, but then it was going to be the Leopards and then they ended up eventually having a bye.

“It has been an unbelievably frustrating couple of weeks, it’s been difficult. We have been doing analysis on three different teams, focused training with a team picked to play the Leopards and then we did not even have a game last week. Some key players were rested for the last game of the qualifiers and the result is some players have not played for over four weeks!

“Mentally it has been difficult and after finishing as the first qualifiers we did not expect this, but we have been training hard, we refocused and will ensure we give everything to make our supporters proud of Griquas,” Peter Engledow, the coach of Griquas, told the side’s website.


Bulls are starting to believe – Stegmann 0

Posted on November 13, 2014 by Ken


Vodacom Blue Bulls captain Deon Stegmann said his team is starting to believe they can still be strong contenders for the Absa Currie Cup trophy after they warmed up for the semi-finals with a 46-12 victory over GWK Griquas at Loftus Versfeld at the weekend.

The Bulls finished the round-robin phase of the competition in fourth place and will therefore have to travel down to Cape Town to take on table-topping Western Province in their semi-final next Saturday. The Bulls won just six of their 10 regular-season games, but three of those have been in the last three weeks and there is a definite sense of late momentum building at Loftus Versfeld after a poor start to the campaign.

“All the criticism has pulled the guys together and we are really starting to believe,” Stegmann said after the victory over Griquas. “We’ve become a band of brothers, we have each other’s backs, and it’s a good feeling to have everything come together now at the end of the competition.”

The Bulls suffered a blow at the weekend with hard-hitting inside centre Burger Odendaal, probably their find of the season, suffering a suspected broken arm. It might just work in their favour, however, with Handre Pollard possibly moving into the number 12 jersey and the Bulls fielding two tactical kickers in him and flyhalf Jacques-Louis Potgieter in what will surely be a tense, tight knockout game against Western Province.

“Unfortunately, Burger’s injury looks serious, maybe a broken arm. He’s made huge steps this year, he’s a real threat on the gain-line and he gives the forwards a lot of momentum. He’s also very creative, it’s what you need in midfield,” coach Frans Ludeke said before confirming that either Pollard or regular fullback Ulrich Beyers, who moved to inside centre during the game, will take Odendaal’s place for the semi-final because Dries Swanepoel is injured.

With wing Bjorn Basson returning to form with a sparkling all-round display against Griquas that included scoring a hat-trick, Western Province should be warned that the Bulls have some dangerous weapons for knockout rugby.

Basson is the best player in the air in South Africa and with both Pollard and Potgieter possibly playing, there is the threat of an aerial bombardment for the hosts to deal with, and their record in the past in that facet of play is not all that flash.

Pollard is also a tremendous threat with ball in hand, as he showed again in the final quarter against Griquas, while the Bulls pack is in great form at the set-pieces and is always difficult to stop once their fearsome ball-carriers get on the front foot.

“That we were able to come back from a backs-to-the-wall situation this season reflects well on the leadership. This was our final run before the playoffs and we created a lot of opportunities, even though there were lots of mistakes, but that’s just eagerness by the players. As we’ve seen, if we just stay patient, the results will come.

“I was impressed with Deon and how he mixed things up on attack, we were able to keep Griquas guessing on the gain-line and we got good momentum there. That last try, when Pollard chipped over the top, was something different and that’s exactly what you need.

“Plus Bjorn had a great game, he showed how dangerous he is in broken field. He’s experienced, he’s a Test player so he’ll be used to the pressure at Newlands, and he creates opportunities,” Ludeke said.



Bulls beat Griquas to saunter into semi-finals 0

Posted on November 13, 2014 by Ken

The Vodacom Blue Bulls didn’t exactly bash the door down into the Absa Currie Cup semi-finals, but they did saunter through with growing confidence as they beat GWK Griquas 46-12 at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday night.

It was a convincing victory on the scoreboard, the Bulls dotting down six times and they ran away with the game in the second half thanks to the complete dominance of their forwards, especially in the set-pieces. It was an error-strewn performance, however, by the home side against a team lacking depth and depleted by injury and they will clearly have to raise their game several notches to compete with Western Province in their semi-final at Newlands next weekend.

It also won’t take much for Western Province to suss out that the Bulls are vulnerable out wide, with Griquas wing Ederies Arendse scoring two scintillating tries that saw his team trailing by just one point after half-an-hour.

The man of the match, however, was Bulls left wing Bjorn Basson, a supreme taker of chances. He scored a hat-trick of tries to show coach Frans Ludeke that he is back to his best after an injury-discrupted year, proving sharp in all aspects of his game, especially in the air. The experienced Springbok will be an important player in the semi-final.

The Bulls are also fortunate that they can call on Handre Pollard at flyhalf, and they looked a slicker, more threatening team on attack when he came on midway through the second half and immediately had the defence guessing with clever chips over the top and his own powerful runs.

Griquas made a nightmare start as scrumhalf Tian Meyer threw a pass straight to Basson who raced away for a 45m intercept try in the second minute, but they struck back with a wonderful try of their own. They showed how dangerous they can be from turnover ball as Marcel van der Merwe lost possession in contact and Griquas quickly went wide with a slick backline move. Arendse then showed that he can certainly put on the after-burners as he raced away for the try.

The visitors were under severe pressure for much of the first half and they can consider themselves fortunate that they did not get a yellow card.

The Bulls did get a Potgieter penalty, however (10-7) but Basson then showed how effective his prowess can be in the air as he won an up-and-under, the Bulls quickly spread the ball wide and a strong run by fullback Ulrich Beyers drew the infringement.

Arendse struck back with a magnificent try, using a classic in-and-out to beat three defenders from the halfway line, that could well have some SuperRugby franchises on the phone enquiring about his availability.

An alleged tip-tackle by loosehead prop Simon Westraadt eventually brought the first yellow card for Griquas and the Bulls reverted to a typical strength for their second try, flank and captain Deon Stegmann scoring from a rolling maul to give them a 20-12 half-time lead.

The njoyment increased in the second half as Griquas faded and their brave defence began to crack, the dominance of the Bulls forwards and their fierce ball-carrying starting to take its toll.

Stegmann broke free twice in the matter of a couple of minutes to put the Bulls strongly on attack in the fifth minute and when Griquas couldn’t secure their own lineout ball, it led to a five-metre scrum. A terrific shove totally opened up the blindside, replacement scrumhalf Rudy Paige went on a dart and Basson was in acres of space to stroll over for his second try.

Basson completed his hat-trick in the 61st minute, showing great pace down the left, but it all begins with the forwards and apart from the wonderful front-foot ball the backs were getting, eighthman Jono Ross and replacement hooker Callie Visagie also made valuable contributions in the backline for the wing to score.

The last 10 minutes were dominated by Pollard, showing why he is the answer today at flyhalf for the Springboks.

After replacement hooker Ryno Barnes, playing his 100th Currie Cup game, was red-carded for swearing at the assistant referee to leave Griquas one short, Pollard stepped inside and powered over for a try in the shadow of the poles.

Six minutes later, on the stroke of full-time, Pollard’s lovely little chip over the top was raced on to by right wing Akona Ndungane, who crossed for the sixth and final try.


Blue Bulls – Tries: Bjorn Basson (3), Deon Stegmann, Handre Pollard, Akona Ndungane. Conversions: Jacques-Louis Potgieter (3), Handre Pollard (2). Penalties: Potgieter (2).

Griquas – Tries: Ederies Arendse (2). Conversion: Francois Brummer.

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