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Ken Borland



John McFarland Column: Why I think the Boks will win in Perth 0

Posted on September 07, 2017 by Ken

 

The Springboks have so many guys playing well at the moment that I see us getting the result against Australia in Perth on Saturday, even though the Wallabies have been very competitive against the All Blacks for the last 120 minutes – it’s just the first 40 minutes of the first Test in which they were hammered.

Australian rugby is not at its strongest state at the moment and there has been a losing culture around the players from SuperRugby and a two-game loss to New Zealand, which has been their traditional start to the Rugby Championship.

They did come very close to winning in Dunedin and they probably should have won that match, but they haven’t been convincing, whereas the Springboks are full of confidence, belief in their systems and they have momentum. You can just see the positivity in the camp.

On the back of two losses, the Wallabies will be in a motivated and desperate state, but the confidence is not quite there.

Australia don’t have the same weapons as the Springboks do and they don’t have much of a kicking game. In fact they don’t want to kick, everything is about ball-in-hand for them, so obviously if the Springbok defence stands up well, opportunities could be created by the Wallabies trying to play under pressure.

There has been an exceptional improvement in the Springbok defence and the players are working so hard for each other, they’re getting off the line and smashing the opposition. It just shows that defence can be a weapon as well.

Australia will want to carry the ball a lot, they want to outscore teams, but the Springbok defence has proven quite lethal in stopping attacks and forcing turnovers, and then finishing those off.

Australia have a few good ball-carriers at centre, but the Springbok defence has been very good from first phase and they coped well against France, who had big wings and midfielders.

The Wallabies will try to beat you through phase play, which means they can become very vulnerable themselves later on in the movement, around phases five to 10, when the attack is not as structured and there’s a chance for turnovers.

Australia also don’t have the best scrum and Stephen Moore being out will affect that even more. Their back row is also a lot younger than it was previously.

Centre Tevita Kuridrani is the big threat in their team with the way he runs inwards at the lineout vacuum – that area between the last player in the lineout and the first backline defender. He can be a handful running hard and headlong into that hole.

Flyhalf Bernard Foley is definitely a threat as well, especially around middle rucks, because he has good feet and gets quite flat so he is able to go at the inside pillars.

We just don’t know from week-to-week though what team Wallabies coach Michael Cheika will pick, which is the difference between the teams because we virtually know the Springbok team from one to 23. It’s settled, which is a big advantage, and they’ve had combinations now for five Tests and they’ve performed really well. The biggest positive for the Springboks is that consistency of selection, which means the players are confident in the people around them.

The Perth crowd can also be 50/50 when it comes to who they support between South Africa and the Wallabies, but the pitch is very removed from the stands, so the crowd is quite a long way back. It also makes it a bit difficult for the kickers because the stadium is just different to most others.

The other unknown is that the Boks have not been in a losing position in any Test so far this year, they’ve been in control after the first 20-30 minutes of every game. So that is the only box unticked – if they are 10-15 points down after the first half-hour or 40 minutes, can they come back? That is the only question mark against them, but I’m sure they can do that if necessary as well.

There’s real hope that we can win in Perth for the first time since 2009. Elton Jantjies is in such a rich vein of form, the defence is so strong and the attack has been lethal – scoring at least four tries in every Test this year has been phenomenal.

 

John McFarland is the assistant coach of the Kubota Spears in Japan and was the Springbok defence coach from 2012 through to the 2015 World Cup, where they conceded the least line-breaks in the tournament and an average of just one try per game. Before that, McFarland won three SuperRugby titles (2007, 09, 10) with the Bulls and five Currie Cup crowns with the Blue Bulls. In all, he won 28 trophies during his 12 years at Loftus Versfeld.

Markram hits record score as Titans hammer Lions 0

Posted on March 20, 2017 by Ken

 

Aiden Markram hit the highest individual score in competition history as the Titans hammered the Highveld Lions by 169 runs in their Momentum One-Day Cup derby at the Wanderers on Friday night.

Markram belted 183 off 138 balls to steer the Titans to 415 for three after they had elected to bat first, beating the previous record for the highest total ever – the 400 for five they had made against the Cape Cobras at Newlands last month.

The previous highest individual score was the 181 Reeza Hendricks had scored when he was playing for the Knights against the Dolphins in Bloemfontein in 2014/15; it was a bad night in general for the Lions opener as he was dismissed first ball as the home team’s run-chase never really took off.

Markram and in-form fellow opener Henry Davids put on 222 off 203 balls for the first wicket, but they took their time at first against some threatening new-ball swing bowling from Beuran Hendricks, whose first five overs cost just eight runs.

But patience is rewarded even in limited-overs cricket and, after scoring just 41 in the 10 powerplay overs, Markram set the early pace, going to 50 for the first time in the Momentum One-Day Cup off 56 deliveries.

But Davids is a vastly experienced batsman and he weathered some early storms and struggles and was soon breezing past his partner with some impressive strokeplay.

He reached his century in the 30th over of the innings, with the Titans on 190 without loss, off 94 balls, needing just 32 deliveries for his second fifty. It was important during this stage that Markram, who is way more mature than his 22 years, shifted gear downwards and allowed Davids to prosper during his hot streak.

Markram performed his changing roles to perfection and would bat through to the penultimate over of the innings, but Beuran Hendricks claimed the important wicket of Davids for 128, off 108 balls, as he had him well-taken by cover-sweeper Rassie van der Dussen.

Heino Kuhn came in and ensured that the run-rate never dipped with an energetic 34 off 23 balls, but it was a low full toss from Wiaan Mulder that undid him in the 42nd over.

Markram ploughed on, reaching his maiden franchise 50-over century off 99 deliveries and ensured that he batted practically through the innings, while also showing that he has the ability to collect boundaries, scoring 18 fours and five sixes in all.

His magnificent, record-breaking innings eventually came to an end when he picked out long-off when trying to hit Dwaine Pretorius, who he punished as 80 runs came off the international all-rounder’s 10 overs, over the top.

But you cannot ask for a much better finisher of an innings than Farhaan Behardien and he ensured the Titans made the highest ever total with his tremendous 62 not out off just 31 balls, including 19 off the last over bowled by Beuran Hendricks, ruining the left-hander’s figures.

You always felt one of the Lions openers, Van der Dussen or Reeza Hendricks, needed to go big for the home side to have a chance, but Titans new-ball bowlers Lungi Ngidi and Eldred Hawken removed them both in their opening overs.

Van der Dussen hit the third ball of the innings from Ngidi square through the off side for four, but then had the misfortune to choose an even wider delivery to try and cut, only managing to edge a catch behind to wicketkeeper Kuhn.

Hawken, a useful swing bowler who deserves more opportunity, then struck with his first ball as Reeza Hendricks edged to first slip, a fine delivery angled in from back-of-a-length and then holding its line.

It ended a bad day for the Proteas hopeful, but wicketkeeper/batsman Mangaliso Mosehle was at least able to partly atone for dropping both Markram, before he had scored, and Davids on 36, by lashing a dazzling 74 off 44 balls.

Mosehle was making few friends when it came to the Titans bowlers, being particularly hard on wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi, who he swept for fours and sixes and hit back over his head for a magnificent, soaring six that brought up the Lions’ 100.

But Shamsi had the last laugh when he had Mosehle well-caught by Markram at deep square-leg.

Captain Dominic Hendricks went carefully to 21 when he was stumped by precision work by Kuhn off Shamsi, and Wihan Lubbe (31) and Wiaan Mulder (29) added 53 off 41 balls before being removed by seamers Hawken and David Wiese respectively.

It was clearly Markram’s day as he trapped the dangerous Pretorius lbw for nine, the big-hitting all-rounder swinging around a dipping full delivery.

Nono Pongolo impressed as he played some fine strokes for his 35 off 21 balls, but Shamsi wrapped up the tail as he finished with five for 74, conceding runs against some hit-and-hope slogging from the tail.

The Lions were all out for 246 in just 33.5 overs as the Titans completed their biggest ever victory in terms of runs in the competition.

http://citizen.co.za/sport/sport-cricket/1461445/markram-hits-record-score-titans-hammer-lions/

CSA slammed out the park too often 0

Posted on November 22, 2016 by Ken

 

If Cricket South Africa were a bowler, they would be the type that gives you an over comprising three great deliveries, beating the bat a couple of times and maybe bowling the batsman, and three rank full tosses that are hammered out of the park, and are no-balls just to make matters worse!

There are so many good things going on in CSA, so many people within that organisation who have a deep love for the game and are faithful servants of it, often at considerable cost to themselves. While those good balls are being bowled, it is easy to believe that everything in South African cricket is hunky dory and the future is bright.

Like when you go to the Centre of Excellence and National Academy in Pretoria. This is a superb facility where national teams can prepare with the latest technology at their fingertips.

The gadgets have recently been improved with the world’s most advanced batting simulator – the PitchVision Batting Studio – now installed. The high-tech bowling machine and smart lane equipped with sensors takes net batting to the next level. The simulator features a moveable bowling machine that can bowl over or around the wicket, videos of bowlers, shot-tracking, field setting and tracking of runs scored. The system also records technique for video analysis.

The batsman can set up any match scenario and bat with the realistic pressures of finding the gaps and trying to chase down a score at the death.

The technology even showed that I was planting my front leg when batting, but then a good coach could probably have pointed that out anyway. And, as I told coaches Shukri Conrad and Vincent Barnes, nobody has trapped me lbw for a long time! (Now I’m just tempting fate!)

There are lots of other good news stories around CSA at the moment, such as the thawing of relations with India. According to Haroon Lorgat, the CSA chief executive, the BCCI are keen on the idea of South Africa and India developing an icon series like the Ashes. The Proteas will be playing four Tests in India this year and the next tour to South Africa is not going to be the thoroughly inadequate shortened series which was foisted upon CSA in December 2013.

Sadly, however, there are still people in CSA who seem more intent on furthering their own agendas than the good of the game.

Despite CSA continuing to swear blind that there was nothing untoward in the selection of the team for the World Cup semi-final, that merit is the only criterion for the Proteas (except when the call is 50/50), the gathering of the cricket family this week for the CSA Awards (another example of how well they can do things) meant I was given yet more snippets of information that would seem to confirm that the side that took the field at Eden Park was not the one Russell Domingo, AB de Villiers or the selectors initially wanted.

And now, an event as happy and well-organised as the awards banquet has also been marred by the same faceless, cowardly interferers as allegations of the judges’ decisions being changed rear their ugly heads.

Two members of the judging panel confirmed to me that one of the franchise award-winners had been changed – that when they left their selection meeting, they were under the impression that a different player had won.

The last thing I want to do is cast aspersions on the ability and class of Robin Peterson (poor Vernon Philander was shamefully treated by the World Cup fiasco), whom I rate highly and believe should be in the Test squad ahead of Aaron Phangiso, but apparently he was the third-choice for the Momentum One-Day Cup Player of the Season, behind Dean Elgar and Andrew Puttick.

So the last week has pretty much summed up CSA’s performance in general: leading the field in many ways, like the centre of excellence in Pretoria, enjoying the support of an ever-growing list of sponsors and putting on superb events, but then also shooting themselves in the foot through dishonesty and backroom dealings. It felt like a family gathering this week, even if the family is dysfunctional at times, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some members who really would be better suited to Fifa than cricket administration.

Sensational Lions ensure they stay in pole position 0

Posted on May 30, 2016 by Ken

 

The Emirates Lions hammered the Vodacom Bulls 56-20 in their SuperRugby derby at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday to ensure that they will return to action after the international break in pole position for the playoffs and with their confidence sky-high.

It was a sensational display by the Lions and it was their sheer intensity, pace, power and vision that blew the Bulls away, the visitors running in seven tries in delivering the sort of hiding that has rarely been inflicted on the home side at their Pretoria fortress.

The Bulls knew from the start that they were going to be in for a tough evening as the Lions earned a penalty from the kickoff, the home side not releasing in the tackle and Marnitz Boshoff slotting the kick. That was not the only time the Bulls erred at the breakdown.

Another Boshoff penalty stretched the lead to 6-0 and the opening try came in the 19th minute. The Lions were put on attack by scrumhalf Faf de Klerk’s searing break and the power of inside centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg then carried him over for the try, although the Bulls pleaded in vain for the visitors to be penalised for obstruction as there was crossing in the midfield.

The Bulls struck back from the kickoff though when the Lions misjudged the flight of the ball, which then bounced over the head of fullback Sylvan Mahuza, who had come rushing up to cover. Outside centre Jesse Kriel gathered the ball and stormed over for the try to cut the deficit to 5-13.

The Lions scrum then made their presence felt in the 27th minute, a big shove seeing the ball bounce out – was it out the tunnel or through the legs? – into De Klerk’s hands and the deserved Man of the Match launched a rapid counter-attack, finished by the pace and power of outside centre Lionel Mapoe, who would not look out of place in the New Zealand backline.

The Bulls, to their credit, did not harp on about all the 50/50 decisions that went against them, but it would have been churlish considering how comprehensively they were outplayed.

The Bulls did pull the gap back to 8-18 with a Francois Brummer penalty, but the Lions were firmly in charge at the break as another try took them out to 25-8.

De Klerk may have been the director of all the attacking brilliance, but this try saw the fabulous pack take control. Hooker Malcolm Marx, who was immense, ripped the ball off the Bulls to set up a series of drives and the home side eventually ran out of defenders, allowing powerhouse tighthead prop Julian Redelinghuys to stroll over the line.

The Bulls defence is one of the best in the competition – before the match they had missed the least tackles – but the Lions continued to cut them open with astonishing ease, thanks to the high tempo with which they moved the ball, and their wonderful vision and skills.

Flank Warwick Tecklenburg is one of the unsung heroes of the Lions and his inside ball to Boshoff saw the flyhalf break clear, earning a penalty for a high tackle, which he slotted to ensure the visitors continued the momentum in the second half.

De Klerk showed again just how dangerous he is with ball-in-hand in the 54th minute when he took a quick tap-penalty and was away in the blink of an eye; he had Jaco Kriel inside him and the brilliant flanker is one of the paciest loose forwards around, roaring over the line for the Lions’ fourth try.

The Bulls were 33-8 down but they did restore some pride with their second try, protecting the ball long enough to get a driving maul going, skipper Adriaan Strauss dotting down.

But there was little respite from the dazzling onslaught from the Lions: wing Courtnall Skosan ran a great line and received the scoring pass from captain Warren Whiteley, in a moment of superb play that showcased the eighthman’s wonderful appreciation of space and time.

Boshoff added his fourth conversion to put the Lions 42-13 up and things got worse for the Bulls when replacement flyhalf Tian Schoeman received a yellow card from referee Craig Joubert for a ruck offence after a team warning.

Shortly thereafter, the scrum once again got their shove on and the nefarious De Klerk was able to dart over for a well-deserved try of his own. Boshoff converted to put the Lions on the brink of the half-century mark and the hell was not over yet for the Bulls as a magnificent breakout by the Lions saw Skosan put clear on a switch move. He showed the pace that has seen him rightly rewarded with an SA A place, and he passed outside to Janse van Rensburg, who showed that he has speed to go with his power as he stormed over for the try.

Replacement flank Deon Stegmann scored under the posts for the Bulls in the final minute, but it was scant consolation for a side that were nowhere near their best and played off the park as a result.

Scorers

Vodacom BullsTries: Jesse Kriel, Adriaan Strauss, Deon Stegmann. Conversion: Tian Schoeman. Penalty: Francois Brummer.

Emirates LionsTries: Rohan Janse van Rensburg (2), Lionel Mapoe, Julian Redelinghuys, Jaco Kriel, Courtnall Skosan, Faf de Klerk. Conversions: Marnitz Boshoff (6). Penalties: Boshoff (3).

http://www.citizen.co.za/1136419/sensational-lions-thrash-bulls/



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