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Ken Borland



Stone shows he’s blessed with temperament as well as ‘game’ 0

Posted on December 08, 2016 by Ken

 

Young Brandon Stone is undoubtedly blessed with a terrific golf game but an equally impressive temperament as he showed on Sunday by blazing his way to a seven-stroke victory in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek.

The 23-year-old began the day with a three-stroke lead over defending champion Charl Schwartzel, who has won the tournament four times, and showed immense composure as South Africa’s number two ranked golfer drew level with him after six holes.

But Stone stuck to his game-plan of staying conservative on the tougher front nine, turning in one-under-par, before obliterating the field on the back nine as he raced to a five-under-par 67, including five birdies, that left him on 22-under-par for the tournament, the second-best winning score ever.

It was the vastly more experienced Schwartzel who disintegrated, a bogey at the par-five 13th, when he wasted a superb drive by taking two shots to get out of a greenside bunker, being followed by a disastrous eight at the par-five 15th and then a double-bogey on the par-three 16th after more water trouble.

In fact, Stone stared down all his challengers, with Keith Horne and Chris Hanson both fading to 76s for 10-under overall, while Benjamin Hebert could only manage a level-par 72 to finish in a tie for fourth on 12-under and David Drysdale shooting a 73 to finish on 10-under.

Richard Sterne, second on 15-under-par after a 67, and young Belgian Thomas Detry, who finished third in just his fifth European Tour start after a 68, were the chief beneficiaries of the carnage up top the leaderboard.

“It wasn’t stress free but it feels great and it’s massive to have my name alongside those big ones already on the trophy. It’s probably the best I’ve played, my ball-striking was superb from the first to last hole and there wasn’t a hole where I was really in trouble all week. To shoot 22-under around here is not a simple task, it’s quite something,” a delighted Stone said after his second European Tour triumph following his SA Open win at the start of the year.

A pair of birdies on the sixth and seventh holes were key for Stone as they kept him under par on the front nine, even though he bogeyed the eighth, taking a lot of flak for hitting Driver off the deck.

“On the front nine I was tied for the lead at one stage and it was reminiscent of the SA Open. But I knew my game-plan was to be one or two under for the front nine and then try and score on the back nine and I was able to get some momentum going,” Stone said.

Victory was sealed on the 13th shortly after Schwartzel’s bogey there as Stone narrowly missed his putt for eagle after a superb drive and approach shot to 25 feet, his birdie giving him a five-shot lead.

Stone was just way too hot for the rest of the field on a sweltering 40 degree day in Malelane.

 

Lions show they can win well without the ball 0

Posted on July 23, 2016 by Ken

 

The Lions had to show they are able to win without the ball and they did that to impressive effect at Ellis Park on Saturday night as they beat the Crusaders 42-25 in their SuperRugby quarterfinal.

The Lions probably only enjoyed about 40% of possession and territory, but their defence was superb and they showed a ruthless streak when they did have the ball, clinical finishing giving them five tries.

It was one-way traffic in the first 10 minutes though as the Lions scored two tries to settle their nerves and give them a 12-0 lead which the Crusaders chipped away at, but could never entirely eliminate.

After flank Warwick Tecklenburg had barged over the advantage line, scrumhalf Faf de Klerk made a good decision to go left and wing Courtnall Skosan showed lovely footwork to step past a couple of defenders and then race away from the halfway line for a superb second-minute try.

De Klerk was once again prominent in the Lions’ second try five minutes later as he intercepted a pass and led a breakaway from their own territory, Skosan loomed up in support and was stopped just short of the tryline, illegally, leading to a penalty.

Sensing blood, the Lions kicked to touch and got the rolling maul going and this time there was no avoiding a yellow card for the Crusaders when they sacked it illegally, lock Luke Romano being sent off the field by referee Craig Joubert.

That penalty was also kicked to touch and, a couple of phases after the lineout, bulldozer centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg went over for the try.

Elton Jantjies converted and seven minutes later he added a penalty after De Klerk had linked well with his forwards and backs and decoy runners had caused some confusion in the Crusaders defence.

The Lions were 15-0 up but they spent most of the second quarter pinned in their own territory and having to defend courageously, making tackle-after-tackle, to keep the Crusaders out.

While the visitors showed excellent ball-retention, most of the Lions’ problems were related to their poor tactical kicking and not getting enough distance on their clearing kicks.

Flyhalf Richie Mo’unga kicked a 19th-minute penalty and the Crusaders eventually made their territorial dominance count in terms of tries when another telling dart by wing Johnny McNicholl, who had been a handful on attack, led to outside centre Ryan Crotty dotting the ball down on the side of the post.

Mo’unga’s conversion closed the gap to 15-10 and the momentum was certainly with the Crusaders.

But the Lions brushed aside the difficulties of the last half-hour, a power scrum winning a penalty, which was again used to set the rolling maul, from which hooker Malcolm Marx scored.

Jantjies converted and the Lions were far more comfortable on the scoreboard – 22-10 up – than they were in reality at halftime.

But the Crusaders are a skilful side good at building pressure and they kept the ball through multiple phases at the start of the second half, trapping the Lions offsides and earning Mo’unga another penalty (13-22).

The Lions are perhaps too reliant on De Klerk using clearing kicks from the base, which are inevitably going to be more like an up-and-under than a long, raking touchfinder, but when Jantjies did manage to kick long and force the Crusaders back for a 22 drop out, it led to a penalty advantage and the flyhalf slotted a neat drop goal for the Lions to rebuild their lead.

The Crusaders were disappointed with the penalty count against them and they gave Jantjies another shot at goal in the 61st minute, the Lions getting front-foot ball as Janse van Rensburg crashed through the advantage line yet again.

The kicking game of the Crusaders was much better than the Lions’ and it earned them their second try when fullback Israel Dagg put pressure on the home side trying to field an up-and-under, the ball went loose and was tidied up by Mo’unga. He made it inside the Lions’ 22 before feeding replacement scrumhalf Mitchell Drummond for an easy run-in.

Mo’unga’s conversion made it 20-28 and the result was obviously back in the balance with 17 minutes remaining.

But the surprise substitution of the outstanding Janse van Rensburg brought immediate rewards. His replacement Howard Mnisi put outside centre Lionel Mapoe away with a sublime first touch, the Springbok incumbent racing through and then showing good composure to wait for the arrival of wing Ruan Combrinck in support. The power finish of the new international completed probably the try of the match.

On a special evening for the Lions, it was fantastic that some of their unsung heroes like Mnisi, Skosan and Tecklenburg produced some of the biggest plays.

Mnisi was in the thick of things again just five minutes later as his big tackle on McNicholl led to a turnover, which was sent wide, Mapoe chipping infield and replacement scrumhalf Ross Cronje getting to the ball first and then fighting his way over the line.

Unfortunately, he injured himself in the process and his fitness is a concern for next weekend’s semi-final at Ellis Park.

With Jantjies’ conversion making it 42-20, the Lions no longer had to worry and an attempt to run the ball in their own 22 instead gave the Crusaders a consolation try through replacement flyhalf Ben Volavola.

But the Lions were convincing winners and by beating the seven-time champions and playoff experts, they have marked themselves as strong contenders for the title.

If they are as clinical on attack and as determined in defence as they were against the Crusaders, it would be silly to bet against them in their home semifinal next weekend.

 

 

Tricky selection for Ludeke as star players wait in the aisles 0

Posted on June 09, 2016 by Ken

 

Coach Frans Ludeke faces a tricky selection this week as several star players are waiting in the aisles as the Vodacom Bulls look to back up their impressive win over the Reds with a crucial triumph over the Sharks in Durban on Saturday.

Springboks Adriaan Strauss, Jan Serfontein, Handre Pollard and Akona Ndungane are all available for selection again, while flank Lappies Labuschagne, one of the Bulls’ best players in the opening weeks of the competition, has recovered from a shoulder injury that saw him miss the last three matches.

Hooker Strauss and flyhalf Pollard should certainly start against the Sharks, but the fine form of Burger Odendaal at inside centre means Ludeke should perhaps consider playing Serfontein in the number 13 jersey he wears for the Springboks.

Labuschagne will probably return off the bench, with the highly-talented Arno Botha match-fit and ready to continue in the number seven jersey.

With the back three of Jesse Kriel, Francois Hougaard and Bjorn Basson performing so well in recent weeks, Ndungane is unlikely to break into the starting XV after recovering from a broken hand. He will even struggle to get on to the bench because Jurgen Visser pretty much provides specialist fullback cover for Kriel, unless Ludeke creates a space by leaving out Piet van Zyl and uses Hougaard as the reserve scrumhalf.

The Sharks are currently in a hole but the possible return of Jannie du Plessis, Beast Mtawarira and Co could continue the revival in spirit that was seen against the Lions at Ellis Park at the weekend, but in terms of confidence, the Bulls are probably going to Durban at the best time.

Ludeke’s men are leading the chase for the South African SuperRugby Conference title and victory over the Sharks could eliminate the KwaZulu-Natalians from contention, with the Bulls at least six points ahead with a game in hand.

The following weekend the Bulls travel to Cape Town to take on the Stormers followed by a crunch local derby against the Lions at Loftus Versfeld and then their overseas tour. So the next three weeks are absolutely vital for the three-time champions as they look to gather as many points as possible.

 

 

 

Picture looks rosy for Northerns women’s hockey 0

Posted on May 04, 2016 by Ken

 

The picture looks rosy for Northerns women’s hockey as their young side triumphed in the Senior Interprovincial Nationals at the weekend, showing impressive self-belief as they beat a star-studded, more experienced Southern Gauteng team in a shootout at the Randburg Hockey Stadium.

“We were definitely underdogs if you looked at the names on paper, Southern Gauteng are a powerhouse who have won many IPTs. But we took each game as it comes and we played very good hockey to get through the semi-finals. To beat North-West 4-0 was a very good performance and I was a bit concerned that we wouldn’t be able to reach that peak again.

“We were very nervous in the first half of the final, we showed our inexperience, but I knew if we could just keep them out then we could claw our way back. The players began to believe in themselves and put more pressure on. It was actually a blessing that we went 1-0 down because I told them ‘now we have to chase the game’.

“You can’t do all that work to get to the final and then just not play, so we began to pass the ball, be positive, and it felt like we shifted the momentum. We were winning more 50/50s, winning those one-on-one battles and we had more shots at goal,” coach Lindsay Wright told The Citizen.

“It’s very exciting and I believe it was some of the best hockey Northerns have ever played, the girls really stood up, which was wonderful. Northerns have tended to not play good hockey in the right moments, they tended to not get through semi-finals, although they were always recognised for their doggedness, their never-say-die attitude.

“We’re basically a university-based team, 90% of our players come through Tuks, so they’re all inexperienced and youthful and we rely heavily on the more experienced players. Tuks will attract more players and we have good schools, but we need to produce more locally-based players and keep them in the province, and then we will potentially build a powerhouse team,” Wright added.

Northerns are likely to lose KZN product Jacinta Jubb, their leading goalscorer, but it is certainly not doom and gloom for them. Player of the Tournament Celia Evans, in particular, is a phenomenal talent.

“Celia is one of the best players in the country right now and she is a real all-rounder, not just in terms of her hockey talent but in terms of what she gives to the team and her fellow players. She’s like Nicolene Terblanche and Kim Hubach, who have been there and done that and who constantly give to those who have less experience, which is the true sign of a very talented player,” Wright said.

Any champion side learns from their mistakes and Wright admitted that their failure to defend their title last year, when Southern Gauteng won the IPT, had been taken on board and thoroughly analysed.

Northens hockey is on the rise and the traditional powerhouses have been warned.

“The girls never gave up and their energy was fantastic. We took the lessons from last year and changed things round,” Wright said.

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  • Thought of the Day

    1 Corinthians 3:3 - "For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?"

    One of my favourite U2 songs is a collaboration with Johnny Cash called The Wanderer, and it features the line "they say they want the kingdom, but they don't want God in it".
    Many people say they believe in God, but they don't experience his loving presence. They may be active in Christian work, but only if they have their way. If they cannot be leaders, they refuse to be involved.
    Because they refuse to allow God to fill their lives with his love, they remain weak and powerless.
    Spiritual maturity means developing a greater love for others.

    "When the love of Christ saturates you, immature attitudes such as pettiness, jealousy and strife are dissolved.
    "It is only when you have an intimate relationship with the Lord that you receive sufficient grace to rise above this immaturity and enjoy the solid food that the Holy Spirit gives you." - Solly Ozrovech, A Shelter From The Storm



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