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Ken Borland

Sharks have tough time against 14-man Rebels 0

Posted on November 18, 2016 by Ken


The Cell C Sharks had a tough time beating a 14-man Melbourne Rebels team in their Vodacom SuperRugby match at Kings Park in Durban on Friday night, eventually scrambling to a 25-21 victory.

The crowd had little to get excited about in the first half until the 29th minute when a fight broke out between Sharks tighthead Jannie du Plessis and the Rebels number three, Laurie Weeks.

Replays showed that Du Plessis had slapped Weeks on the back of the head, prompting a barrage of punches from the Rebels frontrower. With the input of the TMO Marius Jonker, referee Jaco van Heerden yellow-carded Du Plessis and gave Weeks a red card.

It meant that the Rebels played with one man short for the whole second half, but it didn’t seem to faze them as they held their own in the scrums and had a real chance of winning after scoring two tries in the final quarter.

The Sharks had little impact on attack because they lacked straight runners and their handling – as well as the Rebels’ – was dreadful.

They were given a 10-0 lead five minutes after the Du Plessis/Weeks fracas thanks to a storming run by wing S’bura Sithole, who stood out for the Sharks with his work-rate and powerful running, but the Rebels were able to cut the deficit to 7-10 on the halftime whistle, thanks to a try by eighthman and captain Scott Higginbotham, who was rightly given the man of the match award despite finishing on the losing side.

The Sharks defence had held off the Rebels for numerous phases, but the explosive Higginbotham was then given the chance to score by a weak tackle by flyhalf Lionel Cronje.

The Sharks were under pressure early in the second half, but fullback Lwazi Mvovo saved them by intercepting on his own 22 and then racing away for an 80-metre try.

The home side were plagued by scrappy ball-retention and hesitancy on attack, but replacement centre Heimar Williams lifted them to a 22-7 lead after 52 minutes with a brilliant solo try.

The 23-year-old produced the direct running that had been so lacking, cutting back inside and then racing past the cover defence for the first try of his SuperRugby career and a memorable one at that.

The Rebels fought back doggedly, however, inspired by the brilliance of Higginbotham.

On the hour mark, he stormed through a big hole in the Sharks’ midfield for his second try and, with five minutes left in the match, he set up the Rebels’ third try, by replacement wing Bryce Hegarty.

The Sharks had been on attack after Mvovo broke from deep for the second time, but once again the poor ball-retention let them down, the Reds winning a turnover and Higginbotham surging forward from the 22-metre line.

The defeat means it is the end of the road for the Rebels’ hopes of reaching the playoffs, while the Sharks are still trying to rid their game of the basic errors that hold them back.

The defence was good at times, but the attack is amongst the most insipid in the competition.


Sharks – Tries: S’Bura Sithole, Lwazi Mvovo, Heimar Williams. Conversions: Lionel Cronje (2). Penalties: Cronje (2).

Rebels – Tries: Scott Higginbotham (2), Bryce Hegarty. Conversions: Jack Debreczeni (3).


Just 20 poor minutes enough to take gloss off Bulls’ win 0

Posted on March 09, 2016 by Ken


It was just 20 minutes of poor rugby in the second half, but Bulls coach Nollis Marais admitted it was enough to take the gloss off their 45-25 victory over the Melbourne Rebels in their SuperRugby match at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria at the weekend.

Before that, the Bulls had produced some champagne rugby to storm into a 42-3 lead and seemed to have guaranteed themselves a bonus point in their first home match. But poor ball-retention, struggles at the breakdown and aimless kicking all contrived to let the Rebels back into the game, their four unanswered tries robbing the Bulls of a bonus point that could prove crucial in the long run.

“Those 20 minutes in the second half we let them back in the game. We should have had the bonus point, but only two of their tries they really had to work for. I don’t know where the idea came from to kick so much, so many little chippies!

“And our defence was really poor for those 20 minutes of the second half, we made simple mistakes which changed the momentum in their favour. We weren’t very good at the breakdown either, we were penalised four times there in the second half and that allowed the Rebels to have lineouts in our half,” Marais said after the game.

“But last week we couldn’t score a single try and this week we got six, so that is a positive and shows us the way to play moving forward. We’re trying to play ball-in-hand rugby after seven or eight years of playing the same way, and we need to stick to the plan. Some of the tries we scored were brilliant and that’s the way forward. When last did we score six tries?” Marais continued.

Unfortunately, the Bulls then let the Rebels score four tries, meaning they only took four log points away from the game and leaving them still five points behind the Stormers in South Africa Conference 1.

“We were fully aware that the bonus point was vital, we were in position to score again, we got there but we just couldn’t finish. We gave away penalties which allowed them easy exits and we took the pressure off them,” captain Adriaan Strauss said.

“So there are mixed emotions, it was good to win and to play a good brand of rugby, but we needed the bonus point. We’re happy, we’ll enjoy the win, but we let the bonus point slip so there are some regrets. But it’s a step in the right direction. If we get quick ball, if we’re on the front foot, we showed we can play some rugby, but if not we get stuck,” the outstanding hooker said.

Bulls end on a high to restore some pride 0

Posted on July 17, 2014 by Ken

The Bulls didn’t quite do enough to justify sending lawyers’ letters for slander to all their detractors, but they nevertheless ended their Vodacom SuperRugby campaign on a high note as they hammered the Melbourne Rebels 40-7 at Loftus Versfeld last night.

The victory must be judged against the high error-rate in a typical end-of-season match between two sides already out of the running, and the weakness of the opposition – with the result condemning the Rebels to the wooden spoon.

Nevertheless, coach Frans Ludeke must be wondering what might have been as the Bulls gave glimpses of being able to fix many of the things that have plagued them this season.

The Bulls have a formidable lineout, this we know, but they also have a mighty scrum when their front-rankers put their mind to it, which they usually do at home but, frustratingly, not outside of Pretoria. Both set-pieces clicked for the Bulls last night and they thoroughly dominated the Rebels in the tight phases.

Piet van Zyl was eventually given a start at scrumhalf and the Bulls certainly looked a slicker outfit with him directing the traffic. Francois Hougaard was shifted out to the wing, and seemed to enjoy the space he had in which to work his magic, having a busy evening and scoring a fine try in which he beat three defenders.

Springbok considerations have encouraged Ludeke to persist with Hougaard at scrumhalf, but the time has surely come to give Van Zyl an extended run in the number nine jersey.

The Rebels were competitive in the first half, only trailing 7-12 at the break, and that was only due to the absence of a top-class goal-kicker in their team. For all his powerful running and ability to take the gap at flyhalf, Jack Debreczeni had a woeful night with the boot, missing three vital first-half penalties.

The opening minutes provided a foretaste of the Rebels’ biggest problem last night as they spent a prolonged period deep inside Bulls’ territory from the kick-off, but failed to score any points as Debreczeni missed a penalty and they turned over the ball on the tryline.

The Bulls’ first visit into the Rebels’ 22 brought points courtesy of a Handre Pollard penalty for offsides. The youngster enjoyed a faultless night in terms of goal-kicking, epitomising the home side’s ability to turn territory into points, while the Rebels failed to take their chances.

Two tries in the third quarter gave the Bulls security.

A lovely break by fullback Jurgen Visser was followed by Van Zyl firing a pinpoint pass into the gap and lock Paul Willemse galloped on to it to score the Bulls’ first try.

Eleven minutes later, replacement prop Dean Greyling roared off a lineout, smashing the Rebels’ defence and opening the way for Willemse to score his second try.

Hougaard and Greyling, amongst the most frustrating players of this campaign, completed the scoring for the Bulls. Both are potent forces with ball in hand – Hougaard the nimble rapier, Greyling the bludgeoning tank – and Bulls fans will just be wishing they, and their team as a whole, fired more often.

The bonus point victory lifts the Bulls into ninth place on the final log, where they will stay, regardless of what happens today.


Bulls – Tries: Paul Willemse (2), Francois Hougaard, Dean Greyling. Conversions: Handre Pollard (3), Jacques-Louis Potgieter. Penalties: Pollard (4).

Melbourne Rebels – Try: Jack Debreczeni. Conversion: Debreczeni.

Lions turning it on in final quarter ‘very satisfying’ – Ackermann 0

Posted on July 07, 2014 by Ken

Man of the Match Warwick Tecklenburg scores under the poles having started the sweeping move with the turnover deep in the Lions’ half.

Turning a 14-17 deficit midway through the second half into a convincing 34-17 victory over the Melbourne Rebels was a “very satisfying” proof of the character in the Lions’ team, their coach Johan Ackermann said after their weekend Vodacom SuperRugby match at Ellis Park.

The Lions tore into the Rebels in the final quarter to score two more tries and notch a comfortable win in a match that had been closely-contested until that point. Although the Lions were frustrated not to get the bonus point for four tries, their sixth win of the campaign (their most since the Cats were dissolved at the end of 2005) means they go into the final round of fixtures in 13th position.

They take on the 14th-placed Cheetahs, who are just two points behind them, but the Lions cannot finish last on the log unless the Rebels claim an unlikely bonus point victory over the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.

“”We don’t want to be lying 13th, we want to be in the playoffs, but in January people were saying we wouldn’t win a game.

“We didn’t set winning six games as our goal, we just wanted to perform well, week by week, and we’ve shown that we can play at this level. The team has grown, they stay calm, there’s no panic. There’s a rustigheid even though you do get frustrated,” Ackermann said.

A lesser team might well have panicked when the Rebels dominated the third quarter to claim a 17-14 lead and really seemed to be getting into their stride.

But with the Rebels pressing hard deep inside the Lions half, flank Warwick Tecklenburg won a key turnover and lock Franco Mostert burst clear. A sweeping move then carried the home side into the Rebels’ 22, with replacement wing Lionel Mapoe, flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff and replacement prop Ruan Dreyer all prominent, before it was Tecklenburg who finished the thrilling move, which featured some wonderful offloads, under the poles.

The opposition then narrowly avoided – thanks to fullback Jack Debreczeni’s last-ditch tackle – conceding an extraordinary 60m intercept try to replacement hooker Armand van der Merwe, but Boshoff nevertheless extended the Lions’ lead to 27-17 with penalties in the 65th and 67th minutes.

That the tide had inextricably turned against the Rebels was confirmed in the 71st minute when eighthman and captain Scott Higginbotham, as ever one of the most physical figures on the field, was somewhat harshly yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle when clearing replacement lock Willie Britz off a ruck.

The penalty was kicked to touch for a lineout and Higginbotham’s opposite number, Warren Whiteley, who enjoyed another top-class game, swivveled over for a clinching try.

“It was a huge momentum swing when we were 17-14 up and putting the Lions under a lot of pressure, and then came a turnover,” Rebels coach Tony McGahan conceded after the match. “That put them in front and Boshoff then just kicked his goals. We could have had two more tries but both were just in touch, so it was small margins but I’m proud of the effort.”

The Lions had made a great start to the game with wing Anthony Volmink scoring in the second minute after centre Mitch Inman had dropped a regulation pass under his poles from the kick-off.

Boshoff, who succeeded with seven of his nine kicks at goal but had an even better day when it came to getting his backline away, then kicked a penalty after the Rebels sacked a rolling maul (8-0).

In the 22nd minute, the Lions came within a whisker of stretching that lead, but centre Stokkies Hanekom couldn’t gather a deft stab-through over the tryline from Boshoff. Instead, a try up the other end of the field gave the Rebels a foothold in the match.

Flank Scott Fuglistaller won a turnover penalty, scrumhalf Luke Burgess darted over the advantage line and the ball went wide where wing Tom English had plenty of space to show the Lions cover-defence a clean pair of heels.

English broke free again six minutes later, but Debreczeni missed a simple penalty that came at the resultant scrum, before succeeding in the 35th minute, sandwiched by two Boshoff penalties as the Lions went into the break 14-10 up.

When the Rebels gave the hosts a taste of their own medicine with flank Colby Fainga’a scoring from a rolling maul in the 52nd minute, Debreczeni converting, it was clear the Lions had a massive task on their hands to prevent the Melburnians from claiming their first win on South African soil.

By the end, there were no protests that the better side had not won.

“It was really good play by the Lions, they put a lot of pressure on us,” McGahan admitted.

The heroes for the Lions were their loose trio, which played like wild curs, while halfbacks Ross Cronje and Boshoff dished up quality ball for their backs.

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