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Ken Borland



Former Bok defence coach John McFarland on Springboks v Argentina 0

Posted on August 25, 2016 by Ken

 

There were some real positives to come out of the Springboks’ win over Argentina in Nelspruit, even though they did not get a bonus point, such as the attacking intent they showed and indications of some very good coaching by Allister Coetzee.

The Springboks showed plenty of attacking intent, like after their first full lineout they got the ball wide after just two passes, whereas before, Allister Coetzee teams would maul from there, so that was quite good. Ruan Combrinck’s try came from a brilliant second-line attack and Elton Jantjies’ timing of the pass and his break were superb, that was similar to the tries the All Blacks are scoring.

Allister is certainly doing some good work because if Lionel Mapoe hadn’t dropped the ball over the tryline, that would have been an excellent try from first phase, and Johan Goosen’s try set up by Faf de Klerk was either from brilliant analysis work and coaching or, if it was instinctive, then it was a very good read by Goosen. Although as a defence coach I would have been quite upset with the Pumas eighthman because he kept scrumming way after it was necessary!

The other impressive thing was how the Springboks changed their kicking plan at halftime. In the first half they had kicked long, booted the ball downfield to try and get territory, but against Argentina, if they have numbers at the back, then they can come back with a running-bomb.

So you have to give credit to Allister for going for more contestable kicks in the second half, for far greater reward. You always need to have contestable kicks against Argentina because their back three are good under the high ball, they’re tall players. So you need to kick from nine and get the chase going.

You also don’t want to expose our back three to the high ball after we have kicked, because then it’s guys like Elton Jantjies and Faf de Klerk at the back, Johan Goosen even, and they are all smaller guys.

The Springboks’ final try exposed the Pumas’ blindside defence and looked a preplanned move to me. They always try to get their outside backs on the Pumas’ tight forwards and that was some really good coaching, along with the kicking game being changed when the original plan wasn’t working and exposing the blindside.

In defence, however, there are work-ons for the Springboks that I’m sure they will put right.

Argentina scored a try from a kickoff restart and you have to give credit to them for that, because they were playing with 14 men at the time. Martin Landajo exposed our pillar defence, they should never move, and because it was a kickoff our players were deep and once the break was made, the Pumas could get into space.

Another try came from a chip. Because you have to cover the crosskick when you’re inside your 22, all 15 players are in the line, but someone has to move and turn, that chip defence needs to be in place.

I thought Faf was outstanding with his kicking game, the energy he generates and especially the number of defensive turnovers he makes. For someone who is just 1.73m tall, he makes some big plays through defence and really makes a difference. He was on our radar last year, but he’s obviously gained confidence and he’s so good at spotting any sort of gap and exploiting it. He really backs himself.

The Springboks really wanted to come away with a win and winning ugly is often a good thing. You need to build confidence and have a good mindset when you go to a foreign country, and if they’d lost it would not have been there.

It’s become the norm in the Rugby Championship to play back-to-back games against the same opposition but there’ll be very little chance for preparation this week because it’s a marathon trip to Salta, including a three-hour flight on the Friday, and the players have to have time to recover and get fresh.

When we played in Salta in 2014 we had to come back again, winning 33-31, and we changed to contestable kicks. Plus it was so hot, even though we played at 5pm, and it’s at altitude on a small pitch, so it’s tough conditions.

The key for the Springboks will be the scrum and their set-pieces need to be good, and they need to kick contestables and attack the Pumas tight forwards on the blindside. Fortunately the scrum was good in Nelspruit and the driving maul broke them down as well.

Hopefully the Springboks will be able to show more of that attacking intent and it’s been interesting to see in the Currie Cup that there have been a lot of tries, which is an indication of attacking intent at that level as well. There are a lot of new, different coaches in the Currie Cup and it’s great to see a real mindset of scoring tries.

 

John McFarland is the assistant coach of the Kubota Spears in Japan and was the Springbok defence coach from 2012-15, having 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.

Former Bok defence coach John McFarland previews the Springboks v Argentina Test 2

Posted on August 19, 2016 by Ken

 

 

It’s always exciting when the Rugby Championship starts again and I fully expect the Springboks to win and win well over Argentina in Nelspruit, and that’s because Argentina have scored an own goal against themselves.

We beat them convincingly in our last two meetings, but everyone still talks about how they beat us in Durban last year when our guys had just run too many kilometres in training. But they have often given us tough games and that’s because their strengths were Juan Imhoff on the wing and Marcos Ayerza, who made a huge difference in the scrums and always gave our tightheads a tough time, even if whether it was legal or not is another question.

But Ayerza is a very strong scrummager and Imhoff has pace to burn and he made the difference in Durban last year when they beat us 37-25, scoring a hat-trick, but they’re both not playing in Nelspruit because Argentina have decided not to choose any overseas-based players. It’s a big loss for them and their own ruling, in contrast to South Africa and Australia, who have gone down that route of choosing overseas players.

You only have to look at how the Jaguares did in SuperRugby, they were pretty poor and in fact their rugby went backwards. The vast majority of that side are now in the Argentina team, so they’re coming from a losing culture even if they’ve had a change in coaching.

They’ve travelled the world and earned a fantastic amount of air miles, but not a lot of wins. I think they didn’t expect the travelling in SuperRugby to be so hard. But they have the talent and the basis for success, and from now on it will be easier for them to keep their best players at home.

But they’ve also lost some world-class players since the World Cup like Marcelo Bosch in the backs and flank Juan-Martin Fernandez Lobbe. So they’re without Imhoff, who is their finisher, Ayerza, the core of their scrum, and Lobbe, who was their heart and soul. Those absences will have a big influence on the game.

In terms of the Springboks, it will be interesting to see what their defence will do. It was very passive in the June Tests and it will be interesting to see what system they use, what new defence coach Chean Roux’s principles are on his debut as a defence coach.

Allister Coetzee has alluded to them wanting to work harder on their line speed and if they get it right then it can be a wonderfully destructive tactic as the Hurricanes proved when they destroyed the Lions attack in the SuperRugby final. It can put the opposition on the back foot, take away their Plan A and then you see what they have for a Plan B, which is what the Lions struggled with in the final.

But it will also be interesting to see how the Springboks react to the Pumas’ line speed. If the referee is laissez-faire at the breakdown and with their penchant for leg-tackles, it could be a long afternoon for the Boks.

Argentina are clever about what they do, at the middle rucks they hold and block the defenders and pillars, and flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez and the back three then exploit the space. So the referee has to be awake to that and if the referee allows them latitude then it will be difficult for the Springboks.

But Glen Jackson was the referee in our game against Argentina last year in Buenos Aires and he did really well. He generally wants the game to flow and is not scared to make the tough calls, so that’s in their favour.

But if Sanchez is on his game then he can kick drop goals, Juan-Martin Hernandez as well. They kicked four drop goals between them when they won in 2014 against France in Paris, so that’s a major strength of theirs as well.

They’re also good when it comes to ball-movement and using their wings to create confusion.

It won’t work for the Pumas though to stay out of the breakdown because then if the Springboks get second runners off number nine, it will be difficult for them to get their line set.

In terms of the Springbok selection, you’re obliged to have some experience and even though Bryan Habana is 33 he can mentor Johan Goosen and Ruan Combrinck. Bryan’s always so passionate and committed and he will provide a really valuable example and experience for the youngsters. I hope he goes past David Campese on the try-scoring record list in this game [they are both on 64 international tries, five behind world record-holder Daisuke Ohata of Japan].

Jesse Kriel was stellar last year both in attack and defence, he cut both Australia and New Zealand apart and even in the tightest games he was secure defensively. So I’m sure his chance will come.

The other thing to note about the selection is that the Kubota Spears have more players in the Springbok team than either the Cheetahs or the Kings! We have two players – Jaco Kriel and Lionel Mapoe!!

In terms of tactics, Allister Coetzee doesn’t like to chase the game, he doesn’t want to play catch-up. Giving away soft penalties will lead to you chasing the game and Chean Roux always used to pride himself on making sure the side doesn’t give away penalties in the first 10 minutes or the first 10 minutes after halftime. Allister will want the Springboks to get in front and build up the scoreboard.

It should be a great game in Sydney first up, that always lays down a marker for the tournament, and then we get our chance in the afternoon. There will definitely be a step up from the June internationals because the coaches have now had their teams for a month and they’ll have a bit more continuity, which makes a difference.

So I expect the Springboks to win by 20 points but it’s going to be a different game for the Springboks next weekend in Salta, which is also at altitude and it can be blindingly hot. Rugby is very tough there and Jerome Garces will be the referee in Salta.

The All Blacks don’t quite have the depth they had before at centre, but Beauden Barrett is in the form of his life.

Australia have backed tried-and-tested players like Matt Giteau, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Will Genia, who are all quite fresh and have had a break. So I expect a fast and open game in Sydney but I see the All Blacks winning it.

 

 

John McFarland is the assistant coach of the Kubota Spears in Japan and was the Springbok defence coach from 2012-15, having 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.

 

Competitiveness of Sharks youngsters on display after suspension of April 0

Posted on August 03, 2016 by Ken

 

The competitiveness of some of the Sharks’ youngsters will be on display early on in the Currie Cup with the suspension of Garth April for a breach of team protocol allowing 19-year-old Curwin Bosch an early chance to shine in the flyhalf position against the Pumas in Nelspruit on Friday.

The exact nature of April’s ill-discipline has not been revealed but it is obviously another blow to an exciting prospect whose game has gone dramatically backwards since his inclusion in the Springbok squad as more of an observer than anything else, culminating in a shellshocked display in the awful Wellington weather in the SuperRugby quarterfinal against the Hurricanes.

Bosch, a star member of the South African team at the Junior World Cup in June, made three appearances off the bench in SuperRugby, while he will have two debutants outside him in the backline in wing Neil Maritz and outside centre Lukhanyo Am.

“There’s great competition with the youngsters, which is fantastic. Hopefully we can expose them at that level and they will learn a lot. We’re blessed to have basically the same pack as in SuperRugby, which will give us great confidence, but there are a couple of new guys in the backline. But I’m very excited and positive about what lies ahead,” coach Robert du Preez said.

The former Springbok scrumhalf said he hoped some of the attacking ambition that was unborn in SuperRugby would now come to fruition in the Currie Cup.

“We had a good SuperRugby season, the focus was on sorting out our defence and I think we did that quite successfully, although we did leak tries towards the end of the competition. But the Currie Cup is certainly about attacking rugby, that’s our focus now. Defence is obviously a major part of what a team is about, but we want to play rugby that inspires,” Du Preez said.

Sharks team – Odwa Ndungane, Neil Maritz, Lukhanyo Am, Andre Esterhuizen, S’bura Sithole, Curwin Bosch, Michael Claassens, Philip van der Walt, Jean-Luc du Preez, Keegan Daniel (c), Stephan Lewies, Etienne Oosthuizen, Lourens Adriaanse, Franco Marais, Dale Chadwick. Bench: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Thomas du Toit, Ruan Botha, Tera Mtembu, Stefan Ungerer, Innocent Radebe, Heimar Williams.

Border Bulldogs rolled over easily by Pumas 0

Posted on September 19, 2012 by Ken

 

The Border Bulldogs were rolled over easily as the Ford Pumas thumped them 41-10 (half-time 24-3) in their Absa Currie Cup First Division match at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Saturday.

The scoreline certainly did not lie in terms of the Pumas’ dominance as their powerful pack took firm control in damp conditions and their backline had more pace and precision than their Bulldogs counterparts.

The bonus-point win maintained the Pumas’ challenge for top spot, although the EP Kings are still in prime positon with an eight-point lead over the Mpumalanga side with two rounds of league play remaining.

The Pumas took a little while to settle in front of 14 305 people at Mbombela Stadium, but they opened the scoring in the 15th minute as star fullback Coenie van Wyk crossed for a thrilling try.

Border flyhalf Reinhardt Gerber pulled three points back for the Bulldogs with a 22nd-minute penalty, but the rest of the half was a cruise for the Pumas as they comfortably adapted to the wet conditions, thanks to their gritty forwards.

Scrumhalf Shaun Venter, who sparked numerous attacks, went over for the Pumas’ second try two minutes later and centre and captain JW Jonker showed his experience as he glided over three minutes later.

The reliable boot of flyhalf Naas Olivier accounted for all three conversions and the well-travelled 30-year-old also kicked a penalty in the 34th minute to ensure the Pumas reached the break in firm control.

Olivier also began the second-half scoring with a penalty, stretching the lead to 27-3 and, just two minutes later, the Pumas quickly spread the ball wide and wing Wilhelm Loock, who gave a typically passionate display, crossed for the try.

Despite looking all at sea for the last half-hour, the Bulldogs did manage to score a try of their own through centre Neill Jacobs, with Gerber turning it into a seven-pointer with the conversion.

But the Pumas rounded-off an action-packed display as Venter punched his way through for his second try and Mpumalanga’s fifth overall.

The Punas will go into their last two round-robin games needing to make up ground on the Kings to qualify for a home final.

The crunch game is next Friday against the Kings at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, with the Pumas then finishing the league section against the Griffons back at the Mbombela Stadium.

SCORERS

FORD PUMAS – Tries: Coenie van Wyk, Shaun Venter (2), JW Jonker, Wilhelm Loock. Conversions: Naas Olivier (4), Carl Bezuidenhout. Penalties: Olivier (2).

BORDER BULLDOGS – Try: Neill Jacobs. Conversion: Reinhardt Gerber. Penalty: Gerber.

http://www.supersport.com/rugby/currie-cup-first-division/news/120915/Pumas_thump_Bulldogs_in_Nelspruit



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