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Ken Borland



Titanic clash as Bulls search for revenge for opening-weekend hammering 0

Posted on June 27, 2016 by Ken

 

The Bulls and the Stormers are the two leading sides in the South African SuperRugby Conference and are age-old rivals, so it will be a titanic clash when they meet at Newlands on Saturday, with the Bulls expecting a ferocious contest up front as they go in search of revenge for the 29-17 hammering they suffered at the hands of the Capetonians at Loftus Versfeld on the opening weekend of the season.

“It’s going to be another tough South African derby and it’s nice that it’s such an important game. They came here and won and hopefully we can do the same down there. It’s important that we play for the full 80 minutes, we have to be consistent and use our opportunities well,” Bulls captain Pierre Spies said in Pretoria this week.

“The Stormers are very direct, they work hard on the gain-line and the game is going to be decided up front, whoever can get a solid base up there will be on the front foot. The gain-line is going to be crucial because that’s where the penalties and the line-breaks happen. And the team that keeps their discipline best normally comes out on top,” coach Frans Ludeke added.

Apart from the SA Conference lead being up for grabs, what makes the match so mouthwatering are the head-to-head clashes in this World Cup year – Marcel van der Merwe v Steven Kitshoff, Flip van der Merwe v Eben Etzebeth, Spies v Duane Vermeulen, Jan Serfontein v Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel v Cheslin Kolbe.

“Those will definitely spice up the game, even though we’re not thinking about the World Cup now. It’s always there though in the background and this might be the last time we play each other before then. We don’t try to get involved in personal battles, but the media sets the table for us, it’s always there,” Spies said.

The Bulls and the Stormers are also like peas in a pod in the way they have evolved since that opening encounter on Valentine’s Day.

As Stormers’ coach Allister Coetzee pointed out this week, Jesse Kriel has started in place of Jurgen Visser at fullback since then and has changed the shape of the Bulls’ attack.

The Bulls’ scrum is also likely to be a harder nut to crack than it was that day at Loftus Versfeld, with the two Van der Merwe’s back and Trevor Nyakane full of confidence and ready to come off the bench and make an impact.

“We lost Werner Kruger in the first three minutes of that game and Trevor was thrown into the deep end at tighthead. But I felt we finished the scrums well, we battled through. But that game is in the past, we’ve improved a lot and we are definitely a different side compared to then. A lot of players have come back from injury and we definitely have a more all-round game,” Ludeke said.

The Stormers have switched to a more pragmatic approach after three successive losses to New Zealand teams, being more patient in terms and when and where to attack and it has borne fruit with victories over the Waratahs and the Force on tour.

But for all the backline brilliance both teams will bring to Newlands, the real battle will be underground in the trenches up front.

 

Titans field youngsters but best possible team – Walter 0

Posted on October 31, 2015 by Ken

 

Titans coach Rob Walter has followed the same route as several other franchise coaches and included some young new faces in his squad for the opening weekend of RamSlam T20 Challenge action, but he says this is purely incidental because he is looking to put his best possible team out on the park for their match against the Dolphins in Centurion on Sunday afternoon.

Off-spinner Ruben Claassen and seamers Sammy Mofokeng and Lungi Ngidi have been called up to the squad, which also includes returning internationals Quinton de Kock, Farhaan Behardien and Chris Morris.

“This is the best team we can choose at the moment and the guys coming in have certainly showed that they have something to offer. The fact that they are young is just incidental. It was very clear in the Momentum One-Day Cup that if we get our skills together in all three disciplines, like we did in the successive bonus-point wins, then it’s difficult to compete with us. But in the rest of the games, some of our skills were only at 30%,” Walter told Saturday Citizen on Friday.

De Kock and Behardien are in fine form right now and will certainly boost the Titans against a star-studded Dolphins team in which David Miller and Kevin Pietersen pose a clear and present danger.

“It’s great to have those guys back, especially after such a successful series. They’re individuals who have done well, they’re in good form and they’ll bring energy and experience to the team.

“We don’t have any special plans for KP … he hasn’t hit many balls in the last couple of months. But the Dolphins are a good all-round team, their batting is probably their strong suit, but Kyle Abbott and Craig Alexander have been bowling pretty well,” Walter added.

Squads

Titans: Henry Davids, Quinton de Kock, Grant Mokoena, Mangaliso Mosehle, Farhaan Behardien, Qaasim Adams, Albie Morkel, Chris Morris, Marchant de Lange, Tabraiz Shamsi, Junior Dala, Heino Kuhn, Ruben Claassen, Lungi Ngidi, Sammy Mofokeng.

Dolphins: Morne van Wyk (captain), Cameron Delport, Cody Chetty, Kevin Pietersen, David Miller, Khaya Zondo, Andile Phehlukwayo, Keshav Maharaj, Kyle Abbott, Ayavuya Myoli, Craig Alexander, Rabian Engelbrecht, Prenelan Subrayen.

 

 

 



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