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Ken Borland



Sharks come badly undone against superb Lions 0

Posted on July 02, 2016 by Ken

 

The Lions played with superb fluency and confidence, pace and power, to ensure the Sharks would come badly undone on their visit to Johannesburg, the hosts winning their SuperRugby match 37-10 at Ellis Park on Saturday.

After weathering an impressive first five minutes from the Sharks, the Lions were quick to communicate their intention to pick up where they left off before the June international break, their previous result being a similarly superb 56-20 demolition of the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.

The Sharks’ bright start withered in the face of some ferocious defending from the Lions and they simply pushed the visitors ever further from the advantage line, bossing the collisions and producing the quick ball that they flourished on, displaying wonderful skills and intensity in the process.

Flyhalf Elton Jantjies put the first points on the board with a seventh-minute penalty and the woes began for the Sharks as Paul Jordaan limped off with a knee injury. They had already been forced to make a midfield change when Andre Esterhuizen failed to recover in time from the hamstring strain he picked up during the week, which meant Jordaan was playing inside centre and JP Pietersen shifted to number 13 and S’bura Sithole came on to the wing.

Heimar Williams then came on to replace Jordaan and, with Garth April appearing flustered at flyhalf, the Sharks had a severely disrupted backline, the Esterhuizen/Jordaan combination being one of their strong points this season.

But what was unforgivable was the number of basic mistakes the Sharks made in the first half, starting with scrumhalf Michael Claassens basically bailing out of taking an up-and-under, giving the Lions prime attacking position. Lionel Mapoe produced an incisive run, Jaco Kriel, as ever, was up in support and made the final pass for wing Ruan Combrinck to score the opening try in the 15th minute.

The Sharks were also poor at relieving pressure in their own territory, allowing the Lions to mount relentless attacks because their kicks were often up-and-unders instead of touchfinders, and too often they did not find touch or grass.

The second try came after an up-and-under from the base rather than a lengthy kick to clear the lines, followed by Odwa Ndungane dithering and not claiming a mark that could also have relieved the pressure. Instead the Lions piled on to attack, lock Franco Mostert powered through close to the line and eventually centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg grabbed the ball out of a maul and swiveled over the line.

On the half-hour, the jittery April kicked straight to fullback Andries Coetzee, who launched the attack and Combrinck’s little chip behind the defensive line bounced wickedly for Lwazi Mvovo, again in the north-east corner of Ellis Park, with eighthman Ruan Ackermann gathering and passing to hooker Malcolm Marx to storm over for the third try.

The Sharks were 20-0 down and then butchered the best chance they had to get on the scoreboard when Mvovo’s pace took him clear, but his pass inside to Ndungane was a bit behind the fullback and the veteran dropped the ball with the line clear ahead of him.

While the dazzling attacking play of the Lions backline gets most of the plaudits, their pack is also brilliant and they deserve the credit for the fourth try, scored on the stroke of halftime, as the forwards went on the charge, battering through the advantage line until Ackermann, one of the stars of the show as he stood in for the injured Warren Whiteley, powered over the line with two of his colleagues behind him.

Jantjies’ conversion meant the Lions would go into the break with a commanding 27-0 lead and the problems that bedevilled the Sharks did not go away in the third quarter either.

April produced an awful kick from his own 22 that did not go anywhere but straight up, leading to a penalty slotted by Jantjies, and the ball-hungry Kriel then crashed over the line in a move that again highlighted the pace and power of the Lions forwards.

At 37-0 down with 22 minutes to play, the Sharks were really just chasing pride and their replacements, especially lock Ruan Botha, added some much-needed energy.

The visitors were finally on the board in the 63rd minute, Sithole cutting through the Lions defences and some clean hands by April and replacement fullback Rhyno Smith delivered the ball to Mvovo, who stepped inside and dotted down.

Six minutes later, Botha, who announced his return from long-term injury with a compelling performance in the Ellis Park fortress, soared high to take a lineout and set up the rolling maul, from which another Sharks import, replacement hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle, scored.

That made it five tries to two and, if the Sharks had managed to score once more in the last 11 minutes it would have robbed the Lions of a well-deserved bonus point, but Johannesburg’s pride held out to ensure they will top their conference and host the city’s first SuperRugby knockout game since 2001.

Bulls look to use attacking approach to beat WP 0

Posted on October 16, 2015 by Ken

 

 

When the Blue Bulls hammered Western Province 47-29 at Loftus Versfeld nearly two months ago, they used a ball-in-hand approach, clever attacking innovations and pace and intensity, and coach Nollis Marais wants them to use the same strategy in their Currie Cup semi-final in Pretoria on Friday night.

“We wanted to do things differently, we weren’t looking at a semi-final or a final back then, we were just starting a new culture at the Blue Bulls. We’ve worked hard and now the guys must just play. They must believe in themselves and believe in what we do. They’ve all had a season behind them now and we’re good enough to beat any team. Being young is not an escape clause, the guys must just go out and play,” Marais said.

For Western Province coach John Dobson, the way the Bulls used the restart that day has been a major concern.

“We were beaten on the short kick-off down the middle. A couple of times we just weren’t watching and then it’s Game Over. There was just general sloppiness that day. We have to make sure we don’t get caught in the middle and when we receive the restart the clearance has got to be beyond our own 10m line or else the Bulls will just maul you.

“So we’ve had to change our strategy considerably, in terms of how we set up. We weren’t blocking properly, we were leaving Robert du Preez [flyhalf] stranded deep in the pocket. It was a massive issue for us and we had to change the plan,” Dobson said.

Western Province will no doubt want to use their powerful, more experienced pack to grind down the Bulls.

“Last time we played the Bulls [a 29-14 home win at Newlands a month ago] our pack was fairly well on top and if we can do that again then we are going to stop them from playing Bulls rugby, force them into a more open game, and then the mistakes are going to come and we can put pressure on them. Maybe we can force them to run when they don’t have numbers, we see opportunity in that,” Dobson said.

“That was probably our worst game of the season,” Marais said of the Cape Town loss, “because our set-pieces just didn’t work. So it was the first time we were really under pressure, but we still twice lost the ball over the tryline, so we were competitive. We’re better prepared up front than we were then.”

 

Meyer has wanted Brussow since his Japan adventure 0

Posted on July 22, 2015 by Ken

 

According to Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer, he has been wanting to choose Heinrich Brussow ever since he started playing in Japan and regained his pace of old, but his selection was delayed by long-term injuries.

Brussow was the surprise selection in the Springbok team announced to play the All Blacks at Ellis Park on Saturday, earning his first Test cap under Meyer and ending a four-year spell in the international wilderness as he joins Francois Louw in a loose trio featuring two specialist openside flanks.

“I have a lot of respect for Heinrich, there has been a lot of speculation that there is bad blood between us but that’s certainly not the case. There’s been a lot of communication between us, he knew where he stood and he has worked hard.

“He had two bad injuries and I believe he lost a bit of pace because of them, and then he tried to get too big and gained weight. But since playing in Japan, where the game is quicker, Heinrich has got his speed back, which is what you need as an openside.

“He has a very good record against the All Blacks [having been on the winning side in all four previous appearances against them] and I believe it’s the right game to give him a go, he deserves that.

“I’m going with two opensides because I believe the battle will be won on the ground on Saturday and the All Blacks have one of the best opensides in the world in Richie McCaw. One of the main things for the openside is also to secure your own ball and Heinrich has worked on that as well,” Meyer said.

Brussow described his game as having become more “clinical” since his last appearance for the Springboks, limping off early in the bitterly disappointing 2011 World Cup quarterfinal against Australia, which would have been a very sad end to a career in which he had won 14 of the previous 19 Tests he had played in.

“It’s a few years ago that I last played for the Springboks and I’m more experienced now, I think I make better decisions on which rucks to chase. I’ve become more clinical as the laws have changed and I’ve had to adapt.

“It was a different experience playing in Japan but I wanted to try new things and their game plan over there is really quick. I have a good relationship with Heyneke, I always knew where I stood so I kept positive and working hard. But then when I was close to selection, injuries came my way,” the man who turned 29 on Tuesday said.

The selection of two fetchers is a dramatic change in direction for Meyer, who has made his love for big ball-carriers and lineout options in the loose trio very clear, but Brussow said his job will be made easier by having Louw alongside him.

“I played with another openside flank at the Cheetahs because we did not always have big loose forwards, we often played with two fetchers. It makes it easier, you can make better decisions and support each other.

“But it’s going to be a big challenge against the All Blacks, any game against them is tough, but you have to beat the best to be the best. Richie McCaw speaks for himself, but with Liam Messam, Kieran Read and Jerome Kaino, that’s the best loose trio in the world, they’re playing well and in form,” Brussow said.

The other main feature of the Springbok selection is a new-look bench, with Vincent Koch set to make his Test debut. Flip van der Merwe will bring his experience upon his return from his self-imposed exile, while Lionel Mapoe could also play his first match in the Green and Gold.

Cornal Hendricks was originally named on the bench, but then wing JP Pietersen strained his hamstring in training, allowing the Cheetahs flyer to move up to the starting line-up and giving Mapoe his call-up as wing/outside centre cover, just like the veteran Sharks player.

Warren Whiteley is the reserve loose forward and will surely come on in front of his adoring home crowd for his first home Test, Meyer saying his abilities in the lineout and in open play would be valuable in the final quarter.

Meyer’s use of the bench in the last-minute loss to Australia in Brisbane last weekend was criticised, but the coach defended his tactics, saying he was in a no-win situation.

“I was in a lose/lose situation because we have so many injuries and I’m trying to bring players back for the World Cup. And then Victor Matfield and Marcell Coetzee went off and Jannie du Plessis also got injured.

“People say players are over the hill and ready for retirement, and then when I substitute them they say that was wrong too. We didn’t lose because of the replacements, we lost because we made mistakes. The big difference is my teams play, whereas those of the kenners [experts] don’t!” Meyer said.

The Springbok coach will certainly make changes in the final quarter again, however, because he expects a late surge from the superbly fit All Blacks.

“Last year at Ellis Park we made a great start against them but then they came back. In their last 60 matches, most of them have been won in the final 20 minutes because their fitness is superior.

“So we need fresh guys coming off the bench, I expect an open, running game from the All Blacks in the last 15 minutes, they’ll play at a very high tempo, which is one thing we’re not very good at presently,” Meyer said.

Hearing Meyer call for improvement in the tempo at which the Springboks play may surprise the public, but his loose trio selection is a genuine shock. Instead of playing two fetchers, Meyer could have used captain Schalk Burger as a ball-carrier, Whiteley starting at eighthman, or even Teboho Mohoje or Siya Kolisi as blindside flanks.

“We pride ourselves in having one or two big ball-carriers who can get over the gain-line and also stop the opposition’s momentum. It’s a problem at this stage and you don’t want to use half-measures, there’s simply no-one standing at the moment who can do that.

“So we have to change our game plan. Games against the All Blacks are always lost or won at the breakdown, they thrive on quick ball, especially at the end of the game,” Meyer explained.

The life of a Springbok coach is never simple and Meyer knows he will face a backlash from his transformation critics over Mohoje and Kolisi being leapfrogged, but he is selecting with half-an-eye on the World Cup and measuring potential players under pressure.

That’s also why Hendricks has returned, why Brussow has been given another life in international rugby and why there has been so much rotation on the bench.

Springbok team: 15-Willie le Roux, 14-Cornal Hendricks, 13-Jesse Kriel, 12-Damian de Allende, 11-Bryan Habana, 10-Handre Pollard, 9-Ruan Pienaar, 8-Schalk Burger, 7-Francois Louw, 6-Heinrich Brussow, 5-Lood de Jager, 4-Eben Etzebeth, 3-Jannie du Plessis, 2-Bismarck du Plessis, 1-Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements – 16-Trevor Nyakane, 17-Adriaan Strauss, 18-Vincent Koch, 19-Flip van der Merwe, 20-Warren Whiteley, 21-Cobus Reinach, 22-Pat Lambie, 23-Lionel Mapoe.

Bonnet opts for continuity and pace 0

Posted on May 07, 2014 by Ken

South Africa's women's hockey World Cup squad

Investec South Africa women’s hockey coach Giles Bonnet said on Tuesday that he had chosen the World Cup squad based on the need for continuity and pace.

And so the same 18-strong squad that bowed out in the semi-finals of the Champions Challenge – their only defeat of the tournament – last week will do duty at the World Cup in Holland from May 31 to June 15.

“We’re staying with continuity, although we’ve brought players in through the years, introducing eight U21 players since 2010. We’ve been exposing players for the last four years, bringing in future stars all the time, and we’ve played 150 games since the last World Cup, which was only possible because of the support and sponsorship of Investec.

“So the squad includes one triple Olympian [captain Marsha Cox (nee Marescia)], five double Olympians [goalkeeper Sanani Mangisa, Shelley Russell, Kathleen Taylor, Tarryn Bright, Lenise Marais] and seven who went to the last Olympics,” Bonnet said at the announcement of the squad at the sponsor’s headquarters in Sandton on Tuesday.

The squad includes 13 players with more than a hundred caps, while only goalkeeper Anelle van Deventer (10) has less than 50 appearances for South Africa.

Pietie Coetzee, arguably South Africa’s greatest women’s hockey player, is the glaring omission from the squad, but Bonnet said she had made herself unavailable, along with the injured Jade Mayne, because she did not feel physically up to the tournament.

“Pietie doesn’t feel in shape to play in the World Cup, which basically involves running 10km every game and that has a major impact on the body. Hockey these days is about speed and endurance. We have very quick players in this squad,” Bonnet said.

Endurance is epitomised by captain Cox, for whom international hockey must be like a drug as she looks to add to her 332 caps in Holland.

“The Champions Challenge was successful, getting bronze and laying a good platform for the World Cup. We were extremely disappointed after losing in a semi-final to Ireland that we dominated, but stats don’t win you games.

“But sometimes you need to fail before you succeed and we’ve gained confidence from all the chances we created in that tournament [a tournament-leading 60 in six games]. Realistically we’re aiming to finish in the top eight in the World Cup and, with the style of hockey we’re currently playing and all the experience in the squad, that’s in reach,” Cox said.

Waiting for South Africa, however, are three of the tournament favourites in their first three games – Argentina, Germany and England – and Bonnet is hoping to get a draw from one of those powerhouses before taking full points off China and the USA.

“It will be difficult. You want to go into a World Cup with confidence and build your way into the tournament, but hopefully we can make that middle pool,” the vastly experienced Bonnet said.

Mangisa said she was confident the team would make a good start to the tournament, whatever the opposition.

“We know all the games will be tough because, along with the Olympics, this is the pinnacle of hockey. We’ve learnt from the London Olympics and we won’t repeat that bad start. We have to start well and we’ve grown a lot in the last two years. With all these caps, we can’t have a repeat … we’ll think ‘hang on there, we’ve been here before’ and tighten up. Unlike Liverpool last night,” Mangisa said.

Squad (caps in brackets): Sanani Mangisa (92), Ilse Davids (122), Marsha Cox (332), Shelley Russell (212), Dirkie Chamberlain (168), Lisa Deetleefs (187), Nicolene Terblanche (145), Kathleen Taylor (214), Tarryn Bright (263), Sulette Damons (149), Lenise Marais (228), Bernie Coston (94), Anelle van Deventer (10), Marcelle Manson (nee Keet, 133), Kelly Madsen (113), Celia Evans (89), Lillian du Plessis (58), Quanita Bobbs (56).

 

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    1 Corinthians 3:3 - "For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?"

    One of my favourite U2 songs is a collaboration with Johnny Cash called The Wanderer, and it features the line "they say they want the kingdom, but they don't want God in it".
    Many people say they believe in God, but they don't experience his loving presence. They may be active in Christian work, but only if they have their way. If they cannot be leaders, they refuse to be involved.
    Because they refuse to allow God to fill their lives with his love, they remain weak and powerless.
    Spiritual maturity means developing a greater love for others.

    "When the love of Christ saturates you, immature attitudes such as pettiness, jealousy and strife are dissolved.
    "It is only when you have an intimate relationship with the Lord that you receive sufficient grace to rise above this immaturity and enjoy the solid food that the Holy Spirit gives you." - Solly Ozrovech, A Shelter From The Storm



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