for quality writing

Ken Borland



Bulls earn credit, but still lose 0

Posted on April 01, 2017 by Ken

 

The Bulls will earn deserved credit for their improvement, but the end result was still the same as they went down 28-12 to the Chiefs in a bonus point defeat in their SuperRugby match in Hamilton on Saturday.

A superb first-half display by the Bulls in which intensity crackled through everything they did – in attack they were direct and handled superbly, while their defence was physical and uncompromising – saw them claim a deserved 9-3 lead at the break.

But the Chiefs showed their class as they stayed composed and were able to pull away from the 50-minute mark, scoring three tries in an ultimately impressive victory.

The Chiefs had a terrible time in the first half trying to contain superb Bulls inside centre Burger Odendaal, who led the visitors’ resurgence with some powerful ball-carries and excellent midfield defence. It led to the home side having missed an awful 15 tackles by halftime.

But the Bulls just lacked the attacking incisiveness to convert their gains into points on the scoreboard.

When centre Jan Serfontein went inside instead of pinning his ears back on the outside following some storming runs by Odendaal in the fourth minute, it was one of many moments when the Bulls were left wondering what might have been.

The Chiefs had been caught offsides in the build-up, however, and flyhalf Handre Pollard was at least able to kick a penalty for an early 3-0 lead.

More superb carries and direct running by the Bulls, and a determined rumble forward by prop Trevor Nyakane, led to another Pollard penalty in the 10th minute, but the Chiefs dominated the first scrum four minutes later, earning a penalty kicked by flyhalf Aaron Cruden (3-6).

But the Bulls had the final say in the first half as the Chiefs tried to run the ball out of their own 22 after conceding a free kick, but were turned over, allowing the Bulls to string several phases together and earn another Pollard penalty for not releasing at the ruck.

But the tide began to turn in the 51st minute as wing Jamba Ulengo suffered another horrible moment in defence, wing Shaun Stevenson leaving him flatfooted as the Chiefs attacked off a lineout, and then grubbering through and regathering the ball for the first try of the match. Cruden converted to give the Chiefs a 10-9 lead.

That was quickly stretched to 13-9 with another Cruden penalty after Bulls captain Adriaan Strauss stupidly went off his feet at a ruck in front of his own poles, but the visitors had a stroke of luck in the 62nd minute when a dominant Chiefs scrum was penalised for illegal wheeling, Pollard’s long-range penalty closing the gap to one point (12-13).

But it was all the Chiefs in the final 15 minutes as the Bulls suffered another late-game fade.

The Bulls lost a four-man lineout in their own 22 but a superb tackle by lock RG Snyman prevented fullback Damian McKenzie from knifing through to score. But an earlier infringement allowed Cruden to kick a penalty and stretch the lead back to 16-12.

A lovely 71st-minute move from a scrum saw scrumhalf Tawera Kerr-Barlow running at the line before putting a grubber through that McKenzie raced on to and dotted down.

Another slick backline move with two minutes remaining saw different angles of running and McKenzie bursting through, before replacement prop Atunaisa Moli charged through and reached over the line for the bonus point try.

The scrums were hard-fought transactions, but they did allow the Chiefs to release some of the pressure on them as they had the edge in that set-piece. Nyakane’s move to tighthead was again a talking point.

Lock Lood de Jager was a hardworking – if not always accurate – member of the pack, with partner Snyman also shining, while Jannes Kirsten came off the bench after 20 minutes to replace eighthman Arno Botha and made his presence felt. He should be in the starting line-up next week.

Jesse Kriel was impressive at fullback and halfbacks Rudy Paige and Pollard were on the same page.

But while the Bulls were much-improved, being gutsy losers is not a tag they or their supporters will take kindly to.

Scorers

ChiefsTries: Shaun Stevenson, Damian McKenzie, Atunaisa Moli. Conversions: Aaron Cruden (2). Penalties: Cruden (3).

BullsPenalties: Handre Pollard (4).

Back to school for Saru, who look set to fail again 0

Posted on February 13, 2017 by Ken

 

If the South African Rugby Union were a kid, based on their 2016 performance they would be the one who failed to pass their grade and has to repeat the year, hopefully being shamed into harder work and improvement by the embarrassment of sitting in a class with a bunch of people a year younger than you.

Unfortunately, if I was their teacher in that school, I would be forced to conclude already at this early stage of the year that Saru are doomed to fail again because they are simply repeating the same mistakes.

We are two weeks away from the start of Super Rugby and we still don’t know yet whether Allister Coetzee will continue in his post as Springbok coach. If he does – and that looks likely given how tardy Saru have once again been in sorting out their most important appointment (apart from arguably the CEO, who has done another of his disappearing tricks) – then Coetzee will once again find his planning set back by an administration that seems intent on tying one hand behind his back.

The contracts are apparently in place and the official announcement is supposed to be made in the next week, but we’ve heard that line before.

There is another vital appointment that Saru is also dragging its feet over and one that just creates enormous uncertainty amongst the best junior talent in this country and their parents, many of whom are probably sitting on offers from overseas.

Dawie Theron finished his tenure as national U20 coach in June and a replacement has still not been named. There is a great candidate – both in terms of the success he has achieved with young rugby players and the tremendous transformation message it would send – sitting in Potchefstroom by the name of Jonathan Mokuena, previously a manager of the Junior Springboks side, a winner of the Varsity Cup and a successful coach of the Leopards senior team.

But instead there are strong suggestions Abe Davids, the brother of Saru vice-president Francois Davids, is being lined up for the job.

Former traffic cop Francois Davids is also the president of Boland rugby, the union which suspended Abe Davids in 2014 for faking his coaching qualifications, and has been accused of such nepotism by the clubs in the area that the administration was called the “House of Davids”.

The only good news coming out of Saru lately  is that they have invested in getting Brendan Venter back involved with the Springboks. With him and Franco Smith, working with Matt Proudfoot and Johann van Graan, Coetzee will finally have back-up staff worthy of the Springboks.

Of course the name of Rassie Erasmus still pops up from time to time and the former Springbok and director of rugby has put in a lot of time and effort in plotting his coaching career-path. A leading Afrikaans Sunday newspaper seems be the PR company for his ambitions.

While the dithering and politicking carries on in the Saru boardroom, the All Blacks have already held their first camp together and the gap just widens. One would hope the news that the Springboks could be ranked as low as seventh after the next round of Six Nations matches would shock Saru into decisive action, but the wheels of their bureaucracy turn with the speed of a sloth.

 

How Dolphins adapt to volatile Willowmoore Park pitch the key 0

Posted on January 02, 2015 by Ken

The improvement shown by the Unlimited Titans bowlers and the recent struggles of the Sunfoil Dolphins batsmen suggests that how the visitors cope with batting on the often volatile Willowmoore Park pitch will be key to the outcome of their RamSlam T20 Challenge match in Benoni tonight.

By securing a comfortable 27-run win over the table-topping Highveld Lions in their last match at Willowmoore Park, the Titans attack showed that they are able to put the best batsmen under pressure.

Ethy Mbhalati ensured that the Lions were always on the back foot by removing openers Alviro Petersen and Chris Gayle in his first two overs and he was also excellent in his two overs at the death.

Junior Dala, David Wiese and Darren Sammy have each brought their own special strengths to the attack over the last couple of games and the Dolphins batsmen should find the going a lot tougher than when they plundered 194 for five in Durban two weeks ago.

“Junior has come in and bowled really well, and he’s quick too. He’s worked relentlessly on his skills and I’m very happy he’s had the opportunity and he’s taken it. Ethy was outstanding at Willowmoore Park. He has very clear plans now, specifically at the death, and his skill level is very good now after plenty of work in the off-season. When skill and strategy meet, that’s when you get success.

“David Wiese is our banker, he puts it together most games. I think we’ve bowled pretty well in the competition, barring just a couple of games,” Titans coach Rob Walter told The Citizen yesterday.

While the Titans have tightened up considerably in the field, their batting is still a work in progress. The decision to relieve Henry Davids of the captaincy has paid off, with the opener the leading run-scorer in the competition with 280 at an average of 40 and a strike-rate of 142.

Dean Elgar, who has scored 213 runs but is more of a worker than a blaster of the ball, has been rested and Davids will be looking for more support from fellow top-order batsmen Theunis de Bruyn and Qaasim Adams, before the big hitters like Wiese and Sammy, who is yet to show his prowess with the bat, are unleashed down the order.

Walter mentioned in the interview that while the Dolphins will be equally desperate in Benoni, they may lack confidence after a horror run that has seen them lose two in a row, while a third match was rained off after they had been bundled out for just 82 by the Knights.

The Dolphins can look forward to the return of Cody Chetty, their best batsman in this campaign, from a hamstring injury but whether they can give their attack enough runs to defend remains to be seen.

Cameron Delport, their quickest-scoring batsman, has been dropped and captain Morne van Wyk will be acutely aware that he needs to step up now after scoring just 79 runs in seven innings.

Fast bowler Craig Alexander will be the chief attacking threat for the Dolphins, while seamers Robbie Frylinck and Dwayne Bravo and spinner Prenelan Subrayen will be their other key bowlers.

Squads

Titans: Henry Davids, Theunis de Bruyn, Qaasim Adams, Graeme van Buuren, David Wiese, Darren Sammy, Heinrich Klaasen, Shaun von Berg, Eden Links, Junior Dala, Ethy Mbhalati, Cobus Pienaar.

Dolphins: Morné van Wyk, Jonathan Vandiar, Cody Chetty, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Dwayne Bravo, Khaya Zondo, Robbie Frylinck, Andile Phehlukwayo, Prenelan Subrayen, Keshav Maharaj, Craig Alexander, Chad Bowes, Brandon Scullard, Mbasa Gqadushe.

 



↑ Top