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Ken Borland



Home semi secured, so Titans hub may rest 0

Posted on December 07, 2017 by Ken

Now that a RamSlam T20 Challenge home semi-final has been secured, Multiply Titans coach Mark Boucher has the luxury of resting some of his hub players as the runaway log-leaders complete the round-robin phase with two matches this week.

The Titans travel to Cape Town to play the WSB Cape Cobras on Friday, before finishing off against the Hollywoodbets Dolphins in Durban on Sunday. They will then host whoever scrapes into the playoffs in fourth spot in the first semi-final at SuperSport Park next Wednesday.

“Playing on Friday, Sunday and Wednesday could have an effect on the guys, but we’ve got great depth and we’ve earned the right to prepare for the semi-final as we see fit. So there’ll probably be some mixing and matching, we believe we’ve got the momentum and so we can prepare specifically for that semi-final,” said Boucher.

“If we play our best XI for these last two games then we basically just give ourselves one day’s preparation for the semi-final, so I certainly don’t have a problem giving other players an opportunity.

We have some awesome players who haven’t even played a game yet, they’re itching to get on the park, so that will ensure there’s no complacency.”

Boucher said playing at home in the semi-finals would give the players a ‘feel good’ factor, but otherwise it was not a huge advantage for his team.

“Obviously the guys enjoy playing at SuperSport Park and they’re very confident at home, but anything can happen in T20. All the teams have good players who can take the game away from you. So we will have to be on top of our game,” Boucher warned.

Fast bowler Morné Morkel will be available for selection this week, which will give Boucher an opportunity to rest any of his pacemen who may be carrying niggles. Dale Steyn will be playing close to home in the PPC Newlands clash against the Titans, but may well miss the trip to Durban, resting up so he can give it his all in the knockout games.

The Titans will also be happy that they came through their first real test in this season’s competition, beating the vkb Knights with just a ball to spare when all seemed lost in their double-header match in Port Elizabeth at the weekend, which will stand them in good stead should they be under pressure in the semi-finals.

“We always knew there would be a tight game along the way, but I don’t think we batted very well, there were some pretty soft shots by the top-order that got us into that situation. But the middle-order played very well and refused to give it away. Farhaan Behardien is in the form of his life and it was nice to be on top of a tight game before the semis,” concluded Boucher.

http://www.titans.co.za/index.php/categories-1-layout/item/755-feel-good-factor

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Mosehle makes the honeymoon worthwhile for the Titans 0

Posted on December 15, 2015 by Ken

 

Mangaliso Mosehle has enjoyed an extended honeymoon phase in the Titans’ ranks and this weekend the 25-year-old wicketkeeper/batsman repaid the faith coach Rob Walter has shown in him with his extraordinary match-winning innings in the RamSlam T20 Challenge final against the Dolphins.

Mosehle has always been highly-rated by the Titans, his talent evident in how sweetly he strikes the ball, but he has struggled to convert his ability into consistent runs. Batting averages of 18.79 (FC), 24.47 (List A) and 11.60 (T20) for the Titans in the three different formats before his sensational 87 off just 39 balls against the Dolphins speak to an unfulfilled talent whose chances may have been running out.

“People only see the end product in the match, they don’t see the amount of work Mangi has done behind the scenes. I’m very chuffed for him and I hope he now believes in himself as much as I believe in him. There’s definitely no question about his skill, but it’s been a battle for him. Guys just need a defining moment in their careers and there’s no greater stage to have one on than in a final,” a delighted Walter said after the Titans’ seven-wicket victory with 19 balls to spare.

“It’s a relief because I’ve been getting starts and I needed to kick on. This innings will give me a lot of confidence because for me it’s most important to get past the 20s, and I really did what I needed to do tonight,” Mosehle said after his highest T20 score for the Titans and just his second half-century.

Mother Cricket is at her most fickle when it comes to the T20 game, but the Titans completed an exceptional campaign with their ninth victory in 11 games, eight of them achieved in comfortable fashion.

“It’s like a dream to win nine out of 11 matches, that’s a pretty decent campaign, and it’s been thanks to the right strategy based on the personnel we have. All 15 players in the squad offer something different and we use eight bowlers because we have them. We’ve tried to match the weaknesses of the opposition as we perceive them with the bowlers we have and it’s fantastic that we have guys who can offer all the options.

“You’ve got to hand it to the team, they’ve been able to step up under pressure. It’s been an outstanding season,” Walter said.

 

‘It will be war at the breakdowns!’ – Richie Gray 0

Posted on August 06, 2014 by Ken

According to Springboks breakdown coach Richie Gray, South Africa had the best statistics in that crucial phase of play in last year’s Rugby Championship, but he fully expects the opposition this year to have made serious plans to dethrone them.

“At the end of the Rugby Championship last year, we came out with the best stats, in terms of retention and turnovers, but the breakdown is becoming more of a war every year.

“Every country we go to, the newspapers are always talking about the ‘battle of the breakdown’ and this year it will be even more so. Australia have really taken a step forward there judging by SuperRugby, but every team emphasises the breakdown. If something happens 140 times in a game then it’s got to be important and we have to dominate and be accurate there,” Gray said on Wednesday.

While Francois Louw will obviously figure extensively when it comes to the Springboks’ efforts to steal ball, protecting one’s own possession on attack is just as important. Because an openside flank can only hit every second or third ruck, the breakdown does become truly a team effort.

“Every player has to be equipped to do breakdown work and I work with both the individual and collectively to make sure we get it spot on every time in training.

“Just like the greatest defensive system won’t work if your players can’t tackle, so your attack will always be running against a brick wall if you’re taking four or five seconds to get the ball out of the breakdown.”

The Springboks, with their tall, bulky physiques, have had a reputation for being one-dimensional at the rucks – just running up and ramming a shoulder in to try and bully opposition off the ball. But Gray has certainly up-skilled them in this department.

“I can remember being told by leading Northern Hemisphere coaches like Jim Telfer that you never take on the Springboks at waist-height because they’ll smash you, but at knee-height because they’re big men who can’t bend down. But that’s an absolute myth, if they’re properly coached then South Africa have some phenomenal players at the breakdown. They have a great mentality and physicality, and we just need to add accuracy,” the Scotsman said.

One of Gray’s challenges at the moment is to sort out the mash of different breakdown strategies his players have returned with from all around the world – never mind the five SuperRugby franchises employing different methods, there are also the tactics of three different French clubs, two English and one from Northern Ireland to contend with.

“The players disappear all over the world and their clubs all have different philosophies when it comes to the breakdown. So we have to get to what is best for the Springboks; quick ball is best, but how do we get that?

“So I’ll implement a plan that is correct for this group and their different strengths and weaknesses. I’ll tweak it week-by-week and month-by-month and we don’t want to follow other teams, we want to lead, so we do a lot of analysis  to spot weaknesses in both ourselves and others,” Gray explained.

At least in the Rugby Championship, the breakdown is a far cleaner, better-policed phase of play; in the Northern Hemisphere, there are people clogging the aisles far too often.

“I was delighted with the way we changed our approach on the Northern Hemisphere tour last year. The breakdown is an absolute war over there, there are bodies all over the place, players rolling out on our side. There are just so many things going on and it was a huge step-up to cope with that.”

The Springboks’ first task will be to tame the Pumas and their tactics of tackling low to mow down the ball-carrier and then flooding the breakdown.

Michael Hooper and Richie McCaw will then be lying in wait.

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