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Ken Borland



Chiefs eager to win v Sharks without midfield maestros 0

Posted on February 16, 2016 by Ken

 

The Chiefs take on the Sharks in a crunch SuperRugby encounter at Kings Park on Saturday eager to show that they are still a winning outfit independent of midfield maestros Sonny Bill Williams and Tim Nanai-Williams.

Williams is recovering from concussion while Nanai-Williams has a finger injury, robbing the Chiefs of arguably the best centre combination in the competition. But with a hard-working, combative pack, two of the better loose forwards in Sam Cane and Liam Messam, the class of Aaron Cruden at flyhalf and still plenty of pace and power amongst the backs, the New Zealand side remain a formidable outfit.

The other important team news from the Chiefs camp is that experienced loosehead Jamie Mackintosh is back in the starting line-up to counter the presence of veteran tighthead Jannie du Plessis in the Sharks team.

The home side’s decision to keep playing their Springboks, Marcell Coetzee, Pat Lambie and Cobus Reinach all featuring in their sixth straight game, has dominated the news this week but it serves to illustrate the magnitude of the task ahead of them.

Coach Gary Gold is under no illusions and has given the Chiefs the favourites tag.

“The Chiefs are a championship outfit with outstanding strength and depth and they will go into this match as favourites. They have a strong pack of forwards and one of the most exciting backlines in the competition and are well-coached. We look forward to the challenge of measuring ourselves against one of the most dangerous sides. It’s going to be an exciting match-up,” Gold said.

The Sharks’ three defeats this season have come in matches where their game has been littered with errors and they simply cannot leave the ball lying around for the Chiefs to counter-attack.

“The thing about the Chiefs is that they are lethal off turnover ball so you just can’t make any mistakes or you get punished. Even kicking too much or kicking poorly, you just have to look at the statistics boasted by [wing] James Lowe to realise the folly of that.

“So far this season Lowe has run more than 500 metres and he has broken 15 tackles. Those are phenomenal stats and he is a big, explosive guy, and we are going to have to think very carefully before presenting him with an opportunity to run by kicking on to their back three,” Gold said.

Teams

Sharks: 15-SP Marais, 14-Odwa Ndungane, 13-JP Pietersen, 12-Francois Steyn, 11-Lwazi Mvovo, 10-Pat Lambie, 9-Cobus Reinach, 8-Ryan Kankowski, 7-Renaldo Bothma, 6-Marcell Coetzee, 5-Marco Wentzel, 4-Mouritz Botha, 3-Jannie du Plessis, 2-Bismarck du Plessis, 1-Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements – 16-Kyle Cooper, 17-Dale Chadwick, 18-Lourens Adriaanse, 19-Lubabalo Mtyanda, 20-Daniel du Preez, 21-Conrad Hoffmann, 22-Andre Esterhuizen, 23-Waylon Murray.

Chiefs: 15-Damian McKenzie, 14-Bryce Heem, 13-Seta Tamanivalu, 12-Andrew Horrell, 11-James Lowe, 10-Aaron Cruden, 9-Brad Weber, 8-Michael Leitch, 7-Sam Cane, 6-Liam Messam, 5-Michael Fitzgerald, 4-Matt Symons, 3-Siate Tokolahi, 2- Hika Elliott, 1-Jamie Mackintosh. Replacements – 16-Rhys Marshall, 17-Ben Tameifuna, 18-Mitchell Graham, 19-Michael Allardice, 20-Johan Bardoul, 21-Augustine Pulu, 22-Tom Marshall, 23-Hosea Gear.

 

Four reasons for the Springboks to be optimistic 0

Posted on November 04, 2014 by Ken

1)      Their forwards can match anybody

While the backs stole much of the glory at Ellis Park, it was the hard workers up front who made the razzle-dazzle possible. The All Blacks had a tough time making much headway with ball-in-hand as their ball-carriers were suffocated by the physicality of the Springbok forwards. New Zealand captain Richie McCaw said after the game that the pressure exerted at close quarters by the South Africans caused many of the handling mistakes that robbed them of momentum.

The Springboks had a few problems in the lineouts in the second half, but that set-piece was generally solid and the scrum, which had been the focus of much concern earlier in the competition, ended the competition in impressive fashion by enjoying an edge over the All Blacks.

 

2)      They have two world-class, match-winning flyhalves

Flyhalf has been a position of almost perpetual uncertainty for coach Heyneke Meyer, but Handre Pollard and Pat Lambie were the heroes of their win over the All Blacks and have shown they have what it takes to perform against the best, under severe pressure.

Pollard has been touted as the next big thing ever since he was the player of the tournament as he led the South Africa U20s to the final of the IRB Junior World Cup in June, and he was given his first Test start at the end of that month against Scotland, playing with tremendous assurance in a 55-6 win for the Springboks.

Two more starts against Argentina followed, but with the forwards struggling, he did not set the world alight and Morne Steyn returned for the match against Australia in Perth. The veteran’s disastrous performance meant the number 10 jersey was given back to Pollard for the match against the All Blacks in Wellington, with the 20-year-old producing a composed display.

A solid outing against Australia in Cape Town followed, but this weekend at Ellis Park he was nothing sort of top-class.

A graceful runner with ball in hand, he is deceptively quick and very powerful, as he showed by scoring through McCaw.

A dangerous, direct runner, Pollard adds considerably to the Springbok attack, but his kicking is still a work in progress.

The presence on the bench of somebody as cool and composed under pressure as Lambie provides tremendous security for Meyer. The Sharks star played pivotal roles as a replacement in the wins over both Australia and New Zealand and, having spent many frustrating days injured and then waiting to get more game time, the 23-year-old can look forward to many more Test appearances.

The Steyn era may now have passed but the Springboks will be pleased to have his experience in the background, while the talents of Racing Metro flyhalf Johan Goosen are also on the radar.

 

3)      The midfield is gelling

The centre pairing for the Springboks has been the subject of much debate with Jan Serfontein moving to number 13 to partner Jean de Villiers. The critics have been calling for the more naturally attacking outside centre skills of a Juan de Jongh or a S’Bura Sithole, but the De Villiers/Serfontein partnership is certainly gelling judging by the ease with which they created space on the outside against the All Blacks. The marvellously quick hands of De Villiers were a major factor in this.

The goal will be for Serfontein to become totally defensively attuned to the number 13 position but the backs scoring three tries against the All Blacks suggests the attacking aspect is coming together.

 

4)      Confidence and belief will be sky-high

The Springboks will now believe that they can beat any other team in world rugby and that they can master a high-tempo, attacking brand of play, as well as a more forward-dominated, tighter strategy.

The pace at which they are able to perform – they have closed the gap on the All Blacks in this respect – will be a valuable weapon against Northern Hemisphere teams at the World Cup and there will no longer be the burden of a losing streak against a certain side.

 



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