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Ken Borland



Gold not hiding his disappointment even after Sharks win 0

Posted on July 12, 2016 by Ken

 

Despite the Sharks keeping their SuperRugby playoff hopes alive with their 26-10 win over the Cheetahs in Durban, coach Gary Gold did not try to hide his disappointment with the quality of their performance, with many feeling it was a fortuitous escape for the home side.

“I was disappointed in the performance, especially in two areas – the number of errors and our discipline. We kept the Cheetahs in the game by doing things like dropping the kick-off or kicking straight into touch, and we also wasted a couple of try-scoring opportunities.

“We didn’t get our territory game going, our set-piece struggled, our maul was penalised and our kicking game wasn’t good enough. We also conceded quite a soft try from our perspective. We said before the match that we didn’t want to get into a game of touch rugby with them, but that’s what happened,” Gold said after the win, which leaves the Sharks with a two-point lead over the Bulls as the hunt for the third South African qualifying place enters its final weekend.

Gold did, however, praise the character of his team, especially during the middle of the first half when captain Tendai Mtawarira was yellow-carded for slapping an opponent and they conceded three scrum penalties in a row on their own line.

“It was a test of character today and it was critically important the way we defended, especially during that period when we were already 7-3 down. If the Cheetahs had gone to 14, we would have had a real dog-fight on our hands. It’s not the glamorous part of rugby, but we had to really dig deep in the face of a potential penalty try. We defended really nicely then and I thought Andre Esterhuizen did particularly well. It would have been very difficult to have come back from conceding another try then,” Gold conceded.

While the Sharks, who play the lowly Sunwolves in Durban next weekend, are the favourites to claim the third SA qualifying berth, Gold said they really needed to up their game and produce a carbon-copy of the efficient performances they produced in New Zealand.

“We’ve been stuttering since the break and we need a properly good performance just to get our confidence going. To just win against the Sunwolves won’t be good enough, we need a clinical performance, like we had in New Zealand, and to really put them to the sword.”

Gold said the team was disregarding what the Bulls did and were focusing on their own game.

“We thought the Bulls would win, but we were focusing on this game because it was a potential banana skin. If we’d lost, everything we’d done in the last 13 weeks would have been in tatters. The fan would have been really dirty … ”

Cheetahs go down in flames, but can still rise from the ashes 0

Posted on May 19, 2016 by Ken

 

The Cheetahs went down in flames against the Stormers at Newlands, but their playoff hopes are still alive thanks to the Sharks rising from the ashes to snatch victory from the Blues in Durban.

Meanwhile, the Bulls maintained their hot form by hammering the Southern Kings in Pretoria with a bonus point, thereby ensuring that they will be the South African conference winners.

The Cheetahs seemed to have the greater motivation heading into their match at Newlands, with an historic first playoff place beckoning, but it was the realistically out-of-contention Stormers who brought the fire as they registered a thumping 28-3 win.

That fire was lit by their forwards, who fronted up impressively, producing a brick wall in defence, dominating the collisions and the set pieces and closing down the space and time the Cheetahs had on the ball.

The Stormers could be accused of stopping the Cheetahs from playing in a dreary first half, which ended with the hosts 10-3 up thanks to a try by flank Deon Fourie from a rolling maul shortly before the break.

But they counter-attacked well in the second half, squeezing the Cheetahs and then pouncing on the mistakes as they picked up two more tries by the indefatigable Siya Kolisi and Bryan Habana.

Kolisi’s 66th-minute try stretched the lead to 23-3 and it came after yet another messy Cheetahs lineout led to the loose ball being kicked through into the 22 by the Stormers. Fourie was then up quickly to force Raymond Rhule to concede the five-metre scrum, a solid platform allowing flyhalf Elton Jantjies to produce a lovely inside step, scrumhalf Louis Schreuder then ran crossfield to fix the defence and the in-form new Springbok flank came crashing through on a tremendous angle.

Poorly directed kicks and handling errors – many of them by Rhule – were central to the Cheetahs’s demise and Habana’s try came after the visitors were enjoying some rare front-foot ball and were hard on attack before the Ghanaian-born wing again dropped the ball and centre Juan de Jongh and eighth man Nizaam Carr broke clear. From the resulting ruck, inside centre Damian de Allende drew the last two defenders before sending Habana diving over in the corner.

One can forgive the Cheetahs for having an off-day after all their heroics this season and captain Adriaan Strauss described it as “our shocker of the year”. But what was perplexing was why the Cheetahs suddenly decided to kick so much – and poorly at that.

Fullback Willie le Roux kicked 10 times and ran the ball on just eight occasions, which must have killed his many fans who see him as the saviour of South African backline play.

In contrast, Stormers fullback Joe Pietersen was lethal whenever he kicked and the ubiquitous efforts of the loose trio of Kolisi, Fourie and Carr epitomised the never-say-die spirit of the home side, who really are playing for pride.

The Sharks, despite being a camp in turmoil after the sacking of coach John Plumtree as incoming CEO John Smit’s first act, were in firm control of their match against the Blues in the first half in Durban.

They were 14-0 up on the half-hour and 17-5 ahead at the break, but their lead should have been even greater given the absolute dominance their forwards enjoyed in the set pieces, especially the scrums.

That lack of finishing – in particular Pat Lambie’s errant goal-kicking that cost them 14 points – came back to haunt them in the second half as the Blues fought back strongly.

The Aucklanders actually led 20-17 going into the final minute, but the Sharks summoned the energy, composure and skill to score on the hooter through fullback Riaan Viljoen and snatch a 22-20 victory.

Stand-in coach Grant Bashford, who is also probably on his way out, revealed that the Sharks team had committed themselves to winning at any cost in protest against the treatment of Plumtree, who was rapidly purged over the June international break.

The forward effort by the Sharks was spectacular as they overwhelmed the Blues in the scrums, earning half-a-dozen penalties from that set-piece alone, won all 17 of their lineouts and consistently carried the ball over the advantage line through the likes of Marcell Coetzee, Jean Deysel, Willem Alberts and Tendai Mtawarira.

The Sharks did sometimes battle to create enough space for lively Transkei-born wings Odwa Ndungane and Lwazi Mvovo, but considering seven centres are out injured and Butch James and Louis Ludik were teaming up in midfield for the first time this year, that is understandable.

While the Sharks front row were the destroyers of the Blues, it was the improvement shown by the Bulls front row that was perhaps the most impressive feature of their 48-18, bonus point win over the Southern Kings in Pretoria.

Loftus Versfeld has been a church of strong forward play, especially scrummaging, throughout the union’s 75 years and the flaky performances of the Bulls front row this year has no doubt been a cause of great concern for all those Northern Transvaal stalwarts in the stands.

But apart from the third quarter, the Bulls dominated the scrums, which allowed their bullocking ball-carriers to commit even more violence against the battered Kings defence.

The Kings never threatened the South African SuperRugby pace-setters and director of rugby Alan Solomons confirmed that they were badly off their game after the June break.

“The set piece, defence and conditioning are the three pillars of our game and two of those were very poor tonight. The error rate was also through the roof and some of that was due to not playing for a month. A break that long for a team of this inexperience is massive,” Solomons said.

But the Kings did give full credit to the Bulls, describing them as a team “very capable of winning the tournament” and the home side’s ability to get quick ball from the breakdowns and to pounce on the slightest errors in defence was most impressive.

The Kings, who have officially now been consigned to the promotion/relegation games, contrived to make it easier for the Bulls with some uncharacteristically poor defence around the rucks and, when the Bulls scored three tries in five minutes around the half-hour mark to take control of the game, two of those were through Chiliboy Ralepelle and Francois Hougaard simply picking up the ball at a ruck and strolling straight through a gaping hole on the fringes.

But when you throw in the combative midfield running of centres Jan Serfontein and JJ Engelbrecht to the impetus created by the forwards – Jacques Potgieter and Ralepelle shining in this regard on Saturday night – then it’s little wonder defences start fracturing.

http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-07-01-superrugby-bulls-marching-on/#.Vz2myfl97IU

Ford leads on his own, but local hopes still alive 0

Posted on October 28, 2015 by Ken

 

Englishman Matt Ford was able to make the Africa Open lead his own with a six-under-par 66 in the second round at East London Golf Club on Friday, but four South Africans made significant progress up the leaderboard to keep local hopes alive.

Ford is on 11-under-par at the midway stage, one stroke ahead of Spaniard Edoardo de la Riva, while Jaco van Zyl, who continues to make an impressive comeback from surgery on both knees last year, and Erik van Rooyen are leading the South African charge on eight-under-par, alongside Frenchman Gregory Havret.

The 36-year-old Ford started on the first tee at 7.05am when conditions were relatively calm compared to the blustery first day, and he was able to make four birdies on his first seven holes. His momentum was temporarily halted with a bogey on the ninth after he carted his tee-shot into the thick coastal bush, but he made up for that with a birdie on 10 and an eagle-two on the 12th hole.

“I played nicely today, I’m very happy. It’s been two good rounds and hopefully there are two to come. I gave myself plenty of opportunities and was inside 15 feet 11 times. I was just trying to hit good shots and take advantage of the slightly easier conditions,” Ford said.

Van Zyl’s knees are not only holding up well but, more importantly, his putter is too after he struggled last weekend at the Joburg Open, his final-round 66 including 33 shots with the short stick.

“I’m probably at about 70% of how well I can drive, but now I’m making the putts. I had 27 yesterday and 25 today. Yesterday was really tough though and I was very chuffed I managed to shoot two-under. It was a lot easier this morning, it was totally different today, a lot of the holes were into a little breeze but there were still quite a few holes to capitalise on,” Van Zyl said after his round that included five birdies, an eagle and just one bogey.

Former world top-10 golfer David Howell is still in contention on seven-under-par, alongside fellow Englishman John Parry, South Africans Neil Schietekat and Trevor Fisher Junior, Germany’s Maximilian Kieffer and Mark Tullo of Chile.

Van Rooyen started on the ninth hole and picked up two birdies on the back nine before bogeying the par-five first. But the 25-year-old who played college golf in the United States, then posted a band of birdies on his scorecard – five in the next six holes – to roar up the leaderboard.

Van Zyl and his fellow South African mates have a proud record to maintain in the Africa Open, with a foreigner not managing to win the title yet after seven editions of the tournament.

“I’ve got to take it one shot at a time and not get ahead of myself. But if I give myself as many opportunities as  I can to win, then it has to happen some time. But you’ve obviously got to play nicely and being in contention brings different pressures and expectations. But life will become a lot easier once I get a co-sanctioned win under the belt,” Van Zyl said.

 

Keeping it simple pays off for struggling De Kock 0

Posted on October 22, 2015 by Ken

 

Uitenhage Golf Club’s Allister de Kock hopes that keeping it simple at the Africa Open will pay off and the approach certainly worked in an encouraging first round for the struggling pro.

De Kock spent most of the first day in the Sunshine Tour/European Tour co-sanctioned event at East London Golf Club inside the top-20 on the leaderboard after a solid one-under-par 71 in tricky, windy conditions.

“I just need to focus on what I have to do, I know my strong points and keeping the ball in play is one of those, which is what you have to do on this course,” De Kock said after his round.

De Kock, starting on the ninth hole, began solidly with two pars, but then dropped a shot at the par-four 12th, a tough hole with sharp elevation changes.

He immediately gained the shot back though with a birdie on the 13th, but then dropped again on the par-four 14th.

But the 31-year-old then found his feet and parred his way to the turn and then picked up three birdies on the front nine, with just a bogey on the par-four fourth to set him back.

“It wasn’t easy today but I’m happy with 71 in the wind. I had a few drops because of my putter, but then I sank a few putts to give me some momentum. I learnt from the other guys in my three-ball, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Le Roux Ferreira, hitting the low balls, so I started hitting lower too,” De Kock said.

De Kock is in his fourth year on the Sunshine Tour, but has made the cut in just two of 32 events, so if he can build on his good start in the Africa Open then it could be a stunning boost to his career and bank balance.

The reaction of his father, Frans, who is caddying for De Kock, after he sank his par-putt on the eighth hole (the end of the front nine at East London GC) made it clear what a good day it was for the former Eastern Province Amateur Matchplay champion.

“My dad is on the bag and he was very happy, you could see his expression when my round finished. He gave me a thumbs-up and a hug!” De Kock said.

Which just goes to prove how such great delight can come from such simple things.

 



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