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Ken Borland



Beware the slip-up as Springboks take on Argentina 0

Posted on December 09, 2016 by Ken

 

The Springboks open their Rugby Championship campaign with a game against Argentina at the FNB Stadium on Saturday that has huge potential to be a real banana peel of a match – everyone expects South Africa to maintain their unbeaten record against the Pumas, but a slip-up and a defeat on home turf is still a definite possibility.

Duane Vermeulen, a powerful, physical eighthman, returns to the back of the scrum after a season once again disrupted by injury, while Juandre Kruger, a brilliant lineout organiser and jumper, is back in the number five jersey.

There are a couple of new faces on the bench as well – although the actual visages of scrumhalf Fourie du Preez and prop Gurthro Steenkamp are famous all over the rugby world as experienced former World Cup winners.

Vermeulen comes in for the injured Pierre Spies, the Bulls’ eighthman whose abilities are way more highly rated by the Springbok management than by those who base their opinion on televised displays.

 

“Duane can bring something different, he’s physical and unbelievably good on the ground, he’s like an extra openside flank because he competes very well for the ball. He’s good in the lineout too and I expect a good performance from him,” Meyer said on Wednesday.

Kruger, a good communicator in the lineout, returns in place of Flip van der Merwe, who moved from his normal number four position to number five to add some fire to the pack for their last Test against the combative Samoans in June.

For the time being, Meyer has decided to ease the Japan-based Du Preez into action off the bench, with Ruan Pienaar again the starting scrumhalf.

While we all wait with bated breath to see whether the talismanic 31-year-old can still dominate proceedings on the field as he did during his prime, there is no doubting Du Preez’s off-field value in guiding and motivating the Springboks.

“It would be unfair to expect and a lot to ask for Fourie to come straight in and start during his off-season, and it’s the right thing for the team for him to ease back in. He will definitely get game time and that’s a lot of experience to bring on,” Meyer said.

Meyer said Pienaar’s retention in the number nine jersey was all part of his desire for continuity.

“Ruan is the number one choice, he’s the guy in the saddle and we’ve opted for continuity.

“I don’t want to chop and change every week, we’ve won six Tests on the trot and we want to take that momentum forward. We’ve only had one week’s proper preparation for this Test, so that’s why I wanted to keep continuity. Because we’ve had very little time to prepare, continuity has been the deciding factor in selection,” Meyer said.

Because of this policy, the in-form Adriaan Strauss also retains the number two jersey ahead of the benched Bismarck du Plessis, who is considered the best hooker in the world.

The other key features of the selection are Meyer placing his faith in Willie le Roux at fullback and Bjorn Basson on the left wing, while the scavenging skills of Siya Kolisi see him earn the loose forward reserve’s spot on the bench ahead of ball-carrier and tackler Marcell Coetzee, a result of the coach’s new emphasis on the breakdown.

The defensive frailties of Basson are a concern and the awful mistake he made in the Bulls’ 22 during the SuperRugby final led to the match-winning, last-minute try by the Brumbies. JJ Engelbrecht, the outside centre for Saturday’s Test, has also shown a propensity to rush out of the defensive line, and the cut-throat intensity of international rugby means such mistakes can mean the difference between victory and defeat.

“We’ve only had one defence session during the week and it’s difficult to fix things like that in that time. But they are both great players and I have a lot of confidence in our defence, we’ve only been conceding a little more than one try per Test on average.

“Bjorn and JJ are both brilliant attackers and that means the other guys need to defend too. I want an attacking mindset, they say the best form of defence is attack, and even the best backline in the world will make mistakes now and then,” Meyer said.

Kolisi confirmed that the breakdown would be his key focus.

“I want to become more of an openside flank and I’ve been working hard on slowing down the ball and getting to the ball first. Richie Gray [the Springboks’ new breakdown consultant] really knows what he is talking about and he’s had us getting quickly off the ground.

“These days you can’t play with nobody for the breakdown, you need quick ball in order to score tries, and we’re looking forward to getting better in that department.

“It’s my first game in the Rugby Championship, so it’s huge for me. I don’t feel entrenched in the squad because there are a lot of good loose forwards, and I must perform well every week to stay part of the 23,” Kolisi said.

Meyer said pace to the breakdowns would be crucial against Argentina because they employ similar tactics to the All Blacks.

“Argentina give you the outside gaps and then counter-ruck you, like the All Blacks do. So cleaning out at the rucks is very important,” Meyer said.

Meyer will hope for the same precision and attention to detail in all facets of the game if the Springboks are to avoid turning the celebrations of Nelson Mandela’s birthday into a sorry start to the Rugby Championship.

Team: 15-Willie le Roux, 14-Bryan Habana, 13-JJ Engelbrecht, 12-Jean de Villiers, 11-Bjorn Basson, 10-Morne Steyn, 9-Ruan Pienaar, 8-Duane Vermeulen, 7-Willem Alberts, 6-Francois Louw, 5-Juandre Kruger, 4-Eben Etzebeth, 3-Jannie du Plessis, 2-Adriaan Strauss, 1-Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: 16-Bismarck du Plessis, 17-Gurthro Steenkamp, 18-Coenie Oosthuizen, 19-Flip van der Merwe, 20-Siya Kolisi, 21-Fourie du Preez, 22-Pat Lambie, 23-Jan Serfontein.

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-08-15-rugby-championship-boks-lineup-will-have-its-hands-full-against-argentina/#.WFPh-rJ97IU

Bulls have renewed energy to maintain momentum 0

Posted on February 16, 2016 by Ken

 

The Bulls will look to the renewed energy levels in the camp after the bye week to help maintain the momentum they gained before the break when they take on the Western Force in their SuperRugby match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

The Bulls started the campaign with two losses at home in Pretoria but then beat the Sharks and the Cheetahs over the next fortnight to put themselves in the top eight on the log and six points behind the Conference-leading Stormers, with a game in hand.

The Force are the last Australian team to win in the capital, and even though that was way back in 2007, the Perth-based side have traditionally been the toughest of foes for the Bulls to see off, with the average score being 25-22.

“We always seem to be in tight matches against each other. The trick for us will be to play the big moments better and to execute whenever we create scoring opportunities.

“We’ve been quite lucky with our draw, I think the bye came at the right time for us, the week off was very good and the guys have come back energised,” captain Pierre Spies said this week.

The Force come to South Africa in not the best frame of mind, the epic bonus-point win over the defending champion Waratahs in the opening round being followed by four successive defeats, and the coach, Michael Foley, has shuffled the backline, with former Free Stater Sias Ebersohn starting at flyhalf.

The match also marks the return of reserve lock Wilhelm Steenkamp to the place where it all began for the 30-year-old, back in 2005.

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke has called for more accuracy in implementing the basic but effective game plan he sponsors.

“The accuracy suddenly changed, then the belief came, and with that the momentum came as well. We would like to continue with what made us a dangerous side before the break, getting into the right areas, converting that opportunity, accuracy on defence and squeezing opportunities, and hopefully winning that field-position battle,” Ludeke said.

Teams

Bulls: 15-Jesse Kriel, 14-Bjorn Basson, 13-JJ Engelbrecht, 12-Jan Serfontein, 11-Francois Hougaard, 10-Handre Pollard, 9-Rudy Paige, 8-Pierre Spies, 7-Lappies Labuschagne, 6-Deon Stegmann, 5-Grant Hattingh, 4-Jacques du Plessis, 3-Marcel van der Merwe, 2-Adriaan Strauss, 1-Dean Greyling. Replacements – 16-Jaco Visagie, 17-Morne Mellett, 18-Trevor Nyakane, 19-Victor Matfield, 20-Arno Botha, 21-Tian Schoeman, 22-Piet van Zyl, 23-Jurgen Visser.
Western Force: 15-Luke Morahan, 14-Marcel Brache, 13-Kyle Godwin, 12-Luke Burton, 11-Nick Cummins, 10-Sias Ebersohn, 9-Alby Mathewson, 8-Ben McCalman, 7-Kane Koteka, 6-Steve Mafi, 5-Adam Coleman, 4-Sam Wykes, 3-Tetera Faulkner, 2-Nathan Charles, 1-Pek Cowan. Replacements – 16-Heath Tessmann, 17-Chris Heiberg, 18-Oli Hoskins, 19-Wilhelm Steenkamp, 20-Angus Cottrell, 21-Ian Prior, 22-Zack Holmes, 23-Junior Rasolea.

 

 

 

 

Titans eager to maintain momentum after bruising start 0

Posted on November 12, 2015 by Ken

 

 

The Titans took a bruise to their pride in their opening RamSlam T20 Challenge loss to the Dolphins, but successive victories have lifted the mood and left them eager to maintain their momentum as they head into a vital weekend.

The Titans travel to Bloemfontein to take on the Knights on Friday night, before returning home to face the Warriors on Sunday at Centurion in a double-header that also features the Dolphins playing the Cape Cobras.

“We weren’t happy with our performance in that first game against the Dolphins, we just didn’t adapt to conditions, we weren’t smart enough. So we’re very happy with our progression through the last two matches, but we’re still playing at only 70% of our capability. We’re executing better game plans and we’re very happy that the workload is being shared in terms of both batting and bowling,” senior batsman Farhaan Behardien said at SuperSport Park on Wednesday.

The inclusion of players like Graeme van Buuren and Lungi Ngidi has helped the change in fortunes, but there is likely to be another shake-up of the team this weekend with the return of all-rounder David Wiese after recovering from a hand injury.

While other captains are stumbling around in the fog when the pressure is on, Albie Morkel can chuckle and consider the luxury of fielding eight batsmen and nine bowlers – five pacemen, a dibbly-dobbler in Behardien, wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi, a slow left-armer in Van Buuren and offie Henry Davids.

“We’re seeing in T20 now that you need eight batsmen, you need that depth if you go five or six down. The last two games, we’ve had enough batting to win and that takes the pressure off Albie and myself, everyone is chipping in. It’s where the game is going and we’ve taken a leaf out of Australia’s book – they have guys like James Faulkner, Mitchell Marsh and Mitchell Johnson; Chris Morris, Albie and David are a wonderful addition to our team. We have three frontline bowlers and three all-rounders with a wealth of experience internationally,” Behardien said.

“There are so many different combinations and it’s a quality 15-man squad. Anyone on their day can perform, we probably have more variety with our bowling than any other team and a lot of guys who love batting under pressure,” Van Buuren said.

 

Englishmen dominant, but SA contingent eager to maintain Africa Open stranglehold 0

Posted on October 01, 2015 by Ken

It has been a summer season dominated by English golfers but it could change at the Africa Open that starts at East London Golf Club on Thursday with the South African contingent eager to maintain their stranglehold on the title.

The Africa Open started in 2008 and it has had a South African winner on every occasion – Shaun Norris, Retief Goosen, Louis Oosthuizen (twice), Charl Schwartzel, Darren Fichardt and Thomas Aiken – and, with locals winning just two of the last six co-sanctioned Sunshine Tour/European Tour events, it is a record they are eager to maintain in the Eastern Cape.

It has been Andy Sullivan who has struck the biggest blows to South African dominance at home as the Englishman has claimed back-to-back titles at the SA and Joburg Opens, and he is one of the favourites at East London Golf Club.

Sullivan is the highest-ranked golfer in the field at 58th in the world and victory in the Africa Open would lift him into the top-50, ahead of the cut-off for Masters qualification on April 2.

Full preview – http://citizen.co.za/338039/africa-open-a-preview/



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