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Ken Borland



John McFarland Column – The intent is obviously there 0

Posted on March 03, 2017 by Ken

 

Judging by the quality of the games last weekend, I am really looking forward to this weekend’s SuperRugby action, with the Stormers, Bulls and Lions looking like South Africa’s three major contenders.

Last weekend we saw very different South African derbies to what we normally see and the will to attack was clearly there. The intent was obviously there to play with ball in hand and the teams played with real speed in terms of tempo, and pace, which made a heck of an impact.

An example of this was when the Stormers took a quick tap and scored seven points against the Bulls; they, in particular, showed more intent than they have in the past.

The effects of the new tackle law, meaning players now have to go lower with their hits, were also evident in that there were more offloads. Attacks can now continue through the tackle because the arms are free and the tall guys can get the ball above the tackle. It keeps the ball alive and it has led to a lot more continuity.

What was really impressive to me was how lean some of the leading Springboks looked. Guys like Eben Etzebeth, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Siya Kolisi looked in great shape and the speed they played at was a direct consequence of their fitness levels.

There’s definitely been a huge emphasis on conditioning through the franchises and it could mean the end of the New Zealand and Australian sides feeling that a high ball-in-play figure is their secret to success because the South African teams will tire.

While the Stormers were fantastic, what was encouraging about the Bulls was that they never gave up, which is huge. They denied the Stormers a bonus point, which at the end of the day could be vital; from 24-0 up at halftime, the Stormers really needed to get that bonus point. The second half would have provided a huge swing in confidence for the Bulls.

In the Cheetahs versus Lions game in Bloemfontein, the visitors really got out of jail, but if you can score three tries away from home then you deserve your victory.

Rohan Janse van Rensburg showed his finishing power and speed, while the Lions’ try down the short side to win the match showed again that rugby is about defending the full width of the field, even if you only have two or three metres to touch.

The penalty try given off a driving maul was a game-changer; most referees would have copped out and just given a penalty, but if the maul is set and moving forward then it deserves that decision, so credit to referee Quinton Immelman for his brave call.

The Southern Kings looked better and scored some really good tries, but again conceded turnovers at crucial times. During the first half they were in control for long periods, but a yellow card really cost them and prop Ross Geldenhuys was lucky not to get a red card, which a knee to the back should be penalised with.

The major talking point of the last week in the rugby world, however, was Italy and their decision not to contest rucks against England.

I had lunch with Brendan Venter last week and he mentioned that they were going to do it. Any tactic that is new and innovative has to be applauded and it certainly took England a long time to cope with it, so credit to Brendan and the rest of the Italian coaching staff and players for that.

But I believe World Rugby do need to look at the law. As defence coaches, we encourage players to get back on their feet and in the defensive line, but now teams might just try to herd the attacking team into a small radius of the ruck, which would not be good for the game.

It would take a full week of coaching to get a game plan against Italy’s tactic. It was  a real shock-and-awe strategy and difficult to adapt to on your feet. In fact, England played into Italy’s hands with their counter to it, so it clearly worked as a tactic.

 

 

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.

Aussies looking for plenty of intel in ODI series 0

Posted on September 25, 2016 by Ken

 

The Australian cricket team have arrived in South Africa and are looking forward to getting plenty of knowledge from their five-match ODI series against the Proteas that starts at Centurion next Friday.

That the Australians have at least one eye on the Test series they will host against South Africa in November is borne out by their selection for the ODI matches, with three uncapped pace bowlers included in Daniel WorrallJoe Mennie and Chris Tremain, leaving John Hastings (23 ODIs) and Scott Boland (10 caps) to lead the attack. Leggie Adam Zampa, who has played just a dozen ODIs, is the frontline spinner.

South Africa, under pressure to arrest their slide to fourth in the ODI rankings, by way of contrast have chosen what is expected to be their Test attack in Australia, minus Vernon Philander.

“We do have quite a turnover of players in our ODI side but that’s because we want to give the Test players a break. The guys handle it very well, they’ve been fantastic, and it allows us to give players chances at this level, we chop and change the bowlers so Steve Smith knows he has a lot of depth in that department.

“We want to make sure everyone gets game time, we’re looking ahead to major championships and players must adapt. There are good reasons for Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood not being here – we have a Test series coming up and we want to give them a break.

“So this ODI series will be a challenge for some good young players and hopefully our fast bowlers can step up. We have pace and swing from the three debutants, John Hastings has done very well for us in the past and Scotty Boland did very well last year,” Australia coach Darren Lehmann said at their Sandton hotel on Wednesday.

“A few of South Africa’s bowling attack are also part of the Test squad so it’s a chance to play against them and hopefully get into rhythm against them. Their batsmen are also generally the same in Tests, so we can learn from bowling at them too,” captain Smith said.

Australia are fresh off a 4-1 ODI series win in Sri Lanka with George Bailey enjoying a prolific series, and with Smith and David Warner the obvious other threats in a strong batting line-up.

Both the captain and coach said South Africa were a top-class side in their own conditions.

“These conditions are probably the most similar to Australia, so it’s not so foreign, generally there’s good pace and bounce. It should be exciting one-day cricket with good scores, I’m sure it will be different to Sri Lanka,” Smith said.

Titans grab the Knights’ banker & raid the Dolphins 0

Posted on April 18, 2016 by Ken

 

The Titans will announce three new signings for their champion outfit on Friday as they have lured one of the most consistent bowlers in franchise cricket and two young batsmen just looking for half-a-chance to reach their potential to Centurion.

Malusi Siboto, a stalwart of the Knights attack with 98 wickets in 39 matches at an average of 31 in Sunfoil Series cricket, is the bowler who will be joining the Titans, while Jonathan Vandiar and Daniel Sincuba, both from the Dolphins, are the batsmen moving to Centurion.

Vandiar was considered one of the brightest young batting talents in the country when he played for the Highveld Lions as an U19 star, before joining the Dolphins in the 2012/13 season. But the left-hander has never really fulfilled his talent, something Titans coach Rob Walter wants to change.

“Everyone knows he has talent and we’d like to help him realise that. If you go back a few years at the Lions, he was close to national honours and then just got lost a bit. He’s certainly got potential and I believe he can thrive in our environment,” Walter told The Citizen.

Sincuba impressed the Titans when he scored 41 against them last season in Durban, but the 23-year-old has only played sporadically for the Dolphins since then. He will join the Titans as the back-up wicketkeeper to Heinrich Klaasen, with Mangaliso Mosehle having joined the Lions.

“We wanted a young batsman that we could really grow his game, we’re strong enough in terms of senior batsmen and we’d like to invest our energy in a young cricketer. He’s a top-order batsman and it’s hugely important that we have depth there. The key is to create competition and, most importantly, give us different options when we need to change the balance of the side and play horses-for-courses,” Walter said.

The 28-year-old Siboto has been the banker of the Knights attack and took 28 Sunfoil Series wickets at an average of just 20 this season, as well as being the leading wicket-taker in the Momentum One-Day Cup and matching West Indian team-mate Andre Russell’s excellent figures in the RamSlam T20 Challenge. The left-hand batsman is also very capable with the willow and will lengthen the Titans’ tail.

“He can perform in all three formats, he’s a really solid and consistent bowler and we needed some seniority in our attack to help bring the young bowlers through. He brings experience and has been a very successful bowler with the Knights,” Walter said.

The signing of Siboto does compensate for the loss of fast bowler Marchant de Lange to the Knights.

“He’s a very different bowler to Marchant but we still have Rowan Richards, the spin options are still there, David Wiese and Chris Morris will play if they’re not with the national side and these guys can combine with our youth,” Walter said.

The other big departure from the Titans is batsman Theunis de Bruyn, but Aiden Markram, the U19 World Cup-winning captain, has joined the contracted list in his place.

Titans contracted players: Henry Davids, Albie Morkel, David Wiese, Chris Morris, Heino Kuhn, Daniel Sincuba, Malusi Siboto, Jonathan Vandiar, Aiden Markram, Heinrich Klaasen, Grant Thomson, Lungi Ngidi, Junior Dala, Tabraiz Shamsi, Shaun von Berg, Qaasim Adams, Rowan Richards, Grant Mokoena, Ethy Mbhalati.

Last chance for Titans or Dolphins to catch the Lions 0

Posted on December 04, 2015 by Ken

 

Both the Unlimited Titans and the Dolphins will be looking to eat up the points differential between themselves and the log-leading bizhub Highveld Lions, but the losers of their Sunfoil Series match starting at SuperSport Park in Centurion today will almost certainly be out of the running for the title.

The Lions, who play the Chevrolet Knights in Bloemfontein, lead the competition with 96.78 points, with the Dolphins second on 79.54 and the Titans close behind on 77.56 with three rounds remaining.

Titans coach Rob Walter wants his team to gobble up all their chances, something they didn’t do in their previous match, a crucial 170-run defeat at the hands of the Nashua Cape Cobras in Paarl.

“We had them in the first innings but then we weren’t clinical enough at the end to close out the innings. We also batted very well at the start before falling apart, so we need to be mentally stronger and make sure the opposition has to work hard for anything they get,” Walter, who has Marchant de Lange fit again, told The Citizen yesterday.

The Dolphins have pacemen Robbie Frylinck and Craig Alexander fit again, but coach Lance Klusener said they would probably not be assimilated into the team just yet, because he’s looking for more consistency from a side that knocked over the defending champion Cobras by eight wickets at Newlands last weekend.

“We need more consistency, we’ve had some good individual days, but if you can put two good days in a row then you generally win. But we’ve managed to fight our way through to here and we still have a shout,” Klusener said.

The Lions suffered their only defeat in this season’s competition when the Knights beat them by 143 runs in Potchefstroom in October, after leading by 101 runs on first innings but then collapsing to 137 all out to the spin of Werner Coetsee.

“We’ve played some decent cricket, but we have to keep winning, every game is a big game,” Lions coach Geoff Toyana said.

Alviro Petersen is taking a short break to attend a family wedding, Dominic Hendricks returning to take his place, while all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius is back from injury.

The Knights have briefly hit the right notes in the Sunfoil Series, winning their first two games in convincing fashion but failing to add to that.

“There are a couple of critical things we need to get right again. We need to score big runs when the opportunity presents itself: We’ve had 22 scores of more than 30 in the last three games but no centuries. And we need to take our opportunities in the field because we’ve bowled with control,” coach Sarel Cilliers said.

The match between the Cobras and the Chevrolet Warriors at Newlands is all about restoring pride for the home side, who are bottom of the log.

 

 



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