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Ken Borland



No dancing around the issue for odd-one-out Morkel 0

Posted on November 09, 2016 by Ken

 

A lesser player or person might have danced around the issue, but Titans T20 captain Albie Morkel was forthright on Tuesday about himself being the odd one out as his team defend their title in the shortest format of the game, starting with their derby clash with double-header hosts the Lions at the Wanderers on Saturday.

Because Morkel is only available for limited-overs cricket for the Titans, he has not been part of the side that has put a poor start in the Sunfoil Series behind them and climbed to the top of the four-day log at the halfway stage. So he is acutely aware that while he will be leading an in-form group of players into battle this weekend, his own form has yet to be tested.

“Having a winning team definitely helps and it doesn’t matter which format it’s been in. In T20, one guy can win a game on the night, but the team with the most in-form players will win the competition. So the four-day games have provided nice momentum, lots of guys have made big contributions.

“So we don’t have to hide anyone, we’re not trying to fill any gaps, all the guys have performed on the field in recent weeks. If you’re out of form in T20 cricket, you get exposed very quickly,” Morkel said on Tuesday at the announcement that Multiply would be the franchise’s team sponsor in the CSA T20 Slam.

“But I’m the one guy who’s had an extended holiday. The challenge has been to stay fit, so I played a bit of club cricket, although that’s not at the same intensity. So this week I’ll make sure I get some good practice in, match-sharpness is the key, and I can also fall back on experience to an extent,” the all-rounder added.

Last season the Titans went on a record-breaking eight-match winning streak to top the log and then win the final they hosted against the Dolphins, but life could be a bit harder for them this time around, certainly in the initial stages of the competition.

“We have almost a completely different team, last season we had Quinton de Kock scoring over 400 runs on his own and Chris Morris and Tabraiz Shamsi making it very hard to chase down our scores. Those guys won games on their own and we’ve also lost someone like Graeme van Buuren, who did very well too, and Mangaliso Mosehle.

“So we need to find our combinations quickly, even though there are a few older guys still around, that’s no guarantee for success. We’re starting from scratch again and we’ll definitely have to bowl smarter. But we’re still a strong team, we’ll look at Aiden Markram up front, he’s a bit of an unknown factor in T20, and our middle and lower-order is very strong with myself, David Wiese, Qaasim Adams and Farhaan Behardien all coming in back-to-back. We can really take on attacks if we get good starts,” Morkel said.

Ball-carriers, but chiefly attitude the Springboks’ major problem – Coetzee 0

Posted on June 13, 2016 by Ken

 

Apart from the lack of effectiveness of the ball-carriers, which was chiefly a technical issue, coach Allister Coetzee intimated on Monday that attitude was a major factor in the Springboks’ first ever home loss to Ireland in Cape Town at the weekend.

Coetzee said the team had got carried away, perhaps trying to replicate the flavour-of-the-month style of the Lions in SuperRugby, without attending to the necessary basics first.

“We shouldn’t have got sucked into the SuperRugby vibe, all the feel-good stuff about keeping ball in hand. Test rugby is different, a lot of the time it looks on out wide but it isn’t.

“All credit to Ireland because they scrambled well and worked exceptionally hard with 14 players, but we allowed them to look good by running laterally and unnecessarily forcing offloads. We needed a bit more composure and trust in the system,” Coetzee said on Monday in Johannesburg, where the Springboks play the decisive second Test on Saturday.

Although the shocker at Newlands was meant to be the start of an exciting new era of more positive rugby from the Springboks, the home side got totally carried away, just shovelling the ball wide most of the time and totally failing to capitalise on the one-man advantage they had for an hour after CJ Stander’s red card.

Coetzee said there had been some harsh words about making sure the basics are adhered to first.

“We’ve been brutally honest with each other that that performance was definitely not up to Springbok standard. Some of the lessons are internal things that are definitely only for the camp to know, but Test rugby is definitely built around territory, physicality is crucial and scoreboard pressure as well, because three points in a Test is like a try in SuperRugby. Those are non-negotiables,” Coetzee said.

“Tactically we were off-colour, it was a pressure test and that forced old habits to come out, they played like they do in SuperRugby – have a crack, have a go. But you have to respect certain areas of the field and you can’t force things because that’s what leads to turnovers and sloppy handling.

“The Northern Hemisphere sides are playing much closer to Test rugby than we are in SuperRugby. We’re all talking about ball-in-hand, but there’s still a place for kicking. All Ireland had to do was make it as difficult as possible for us to exit, we got bogged down in our 22. They were very clever tactics and we did not handle them well.”

The Springboks not only found themselves hemmed in when they favoured hands over kicking, but also struggled to get over the advantage line, which Coetzee put down to poor technique.

“We also let ourselves down with our contact skills, to get stripped of the ball so often just shows a lack of awareness in the collisions. It’s about our body height in contact, all about the shoulder battle. Ireland carry the ball very low so they are difficult to stop on the gain-line, they get that extra yard and their cleaners are going forward.

“We need effective ball-carriers, our physicality and intensity were a bit off, not where they should be in Test rugby. It’s about the height of the ball-carriers and how effectively they attack space,” Coetzee said.

In some ways, the red card shown to Stander for his reckless and extremely dangerous “tackle” on Pat Lambie was a blessing in disguise for Ireland; it lifted them to greater heights while there was an unmistakable sense that the Springboks just expected to steamroller them after that.

“I’ve seen many teams win with 14 men. Psychologically, the team with 15 tends to think it will just happen for them and the team with 14 know they have to put in extra effort. How hard Ireland worked was shown by how they managed to tackle JP Pietersen out in the corner at the end of the game. In those situations you have to make sure you go back to basics and do those things right,” Coetzee said.

The coach said the majority of the team that played in the first Test would get the chance to play in the second game at Ellis Park, which they have to win to ensure they don’t lose a series at home to a Northern Hemisphere side for the first time since the 1997 loss to the British Lions.

“We’re between a rock and a hard place because the team as a collective did not play well, but you need to look to give them a second opportunity to rectify that. If you make changes then it looks like panic, but first and foremost, I will be choosing the best team for Saturday.

“I always see the glass as half-full and you will lose rugby Tests, you’re not going to win all your games, whether it be your first Test or your last. The most important thing is how the team responds and I look forward to seeing that. We have to make sure we improve,” Coetzee said.

That means Elton Jantjies and Faf de Klerk, whose game management earned mixed reviews at Newlands, are bound to start at halfback, although Morne Steyn is likely to provide a reassuring presence on the bench, having been called up on Monday.

Steyn may not be the media’s favourite flyhalf for the future, but there is no doubt that the experience, calm and tactical kicking ability he will bring to Ellis Park was badly missed in the first Test.

 

Do Sanzaar & TMOs act with fairness? 0

Posted on April 14, 2016 by Ken

 

Sanzaar’s decision to slap Sharks coach Gary Gold with a fine of A$13 500 – which is more than R150 000 – has once again raised the infuriating issue of whether southern hemisphere rugby’s governing body acts with fairness in disciplinary matters concerning South African teams.

Gold was fined for having a less-than-polite chat during the game against the Crusaders with TMO Johan Greeff. The Sharks – and many other teams – have history with this woefully incompetent official as it was his abysmal decision to award a try that saw them lose to the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld last year.

While I have no problem with Gold being fined – even he admitted that what he did was wrong – what raised my ire was the severity of the punishment handed down by Kiwi judicial officer Nigel Hampton.

Especially when one considers that the selfsame Hampton only fined then-Waratahs coach Michael Cheika A$6000 in April 2014 for abusing a cameraman in Durban, also with foul language. And Cheika was a repeat offender, as Hampton himself pointed out in his judgement – “I do not regard Mr Cheika to be a first-time offender and it would be farcical to disregard other matters over the past nine years, including proven misconduct allegations from his time as a professional coach in Europe and a warning from Sanzar during the 2013 SuperRugby season,” he said.

“This matter bears a number of striking similarities with past instances, particularly the use of foul and abusive language towards those charged with running a match and the propensity of Mr Cheika to behave in this manner is disturbing. Given his previous record and the factual findings of the investigation, I regard this as a serious offence and do not see it as a result of any provocation, nor is there any excuse for it.

“Mr Cheika’s admission of guilt and contrition during the hearing is balanced by inappropriate accusations made on his behalf that witnesses fabricated evidence; a notion they rightly recoiled at.”

Cheika was also found guilty, last year, of approaching a referee at halftime and, guess what? Sanzar let him off with a warning!

What is equally infuriating is that Sanzaar continue to come down hard on the symptom of the problem and not the cause – which is incompetent TMOs.

While I have great sympathy for referees, who have to make split-second rulings based on a bewildering variety of laws, especially at ruck time, TMOs really should not be making the mistakes they do. Knowing the laws is one thing, but not being able to see or interpret several replays properly is another; I’d be willing to wager that you could drag someone out of the crowd in their denim jeans and they could do a better job than some of the TMOs Sanzaar have inflicted on the game.

Greeff’s failure to properly review two occurrences in the game against the Crusaders had an obvious impact on the result of the match.

The first was Willie le Roux’s disallowed try in the 66th minute that would have given the Sharks a 19-12 lead. Greeff made a rapid decision that the fullback was in front of the kicker but he made use of just one replay, and the camera angle wasn’t even in line with play.

Then, in the 72nd minute, when Kieran Read scored to give the Crusaders a 19-14 victory, Greeff declined to look at a replay after there had been a suggestion of a knock-on in the 15-phase build-up to the try.

Much of the rugby public is already feeling confused and disenchanted with SuperRugby and its new format; when the officials are seemingly watching an entirely different game to them on TV, despite having the benefit of several replays, then the usual reaction is one of anger and frustration and no brand should want the customers to go through that.

 

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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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