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Ken Borland



Beware the slip-up as Springboks take on Argentina 0

Posted on December 09, 2016 by Ken

 

The Springboks open their Rugby Championship campaign with a game against Argentina at the FNB Stadium on Saturday that has huge potential to be a real banana peel of a match – everyone expects South Africa to maintain their unbeaten record against the Pumas, but a slip-up and a defeat on home turf is still a definite possibility.

Duane Vermeulen, a powerful, physical eighthman, returns to the back of the scrum after a season once again disrupted by injury, while Juandre Kruger, a brilliant lineout organiser and jumper, is back in the number five jersey.

There are a couple of new faces on the bench as well – although the actual visages of scrumhalf Fourie du Preez and prop Gurthro Steenkamp are famous all over the rugby world as experienced former World Cup winners.

Vermeulen comes in for the injured Pierre Spies, the Bulls’ eighthman whose abilities are way more highly rated by the Springbok management than by those who base their opinion on televised displays.

 

“Duane can bring something different, he’s physical and unbelievably good on the ground, he’s like an extra openside flank because he competes very well for the ball. He’s good in the lineout too and I expect a good performance from him,” Meyer said on Wednesday.

Kruger, a good communicator in the lineout, returns in place of Flip van der Merwe, who moved from his normal number four position to number five to add some fire to the pack for their last Test against the combative Samoans in June.

For the time being, Meyer has decided to ease the Japan-based Du Preez into action off the bench, with Ruan Pienaar again the starting scrumhalf.

While we all wait with bated breath to see whether the talismanic 31-year-old can still dominate proceedings on the field as he did during his prime, there is no doubting Du Preez’s off-field value in guiding and motivating the Springboks.

“It would be unfair to expect and a lot to ask for Fourie to come straight in and start during his off-season, and it’s the right thing for the team for him to ease back in. He will definitely get game time and that’s a lot of experience to bring on,” Meyer said.

Meyer said Pienaar’s retention in the number nine jersey was all part of his desire for continuity.

“Ruan is the number one choice, he’s the guy in the saddle and we’ve opted for continuity.

“I don’t want to chop and change every week, we’ve won six Tests on the trot and we want to take that momentum forward. We’ve only had one week’s proper preparation for this Test, so that’s why I wanted to keep continuity. Because we’ve had very little time to prepare, continuity has been the deciding factor in selection,” Meyer said.

Because of this policy, the in-form Adriaan Strauss also retains the number two jersey ahead of the benched Bismarck du Plessis, who is considered the best hooker in the world.

The other key features of the selection are Meyer placing his faith in Willie le Roux at fullback and Bjorn Basson on the left wing, while the scavenging skills of Siya Kolisi see him earn the loose forward reserve’s spot on the bench ahead of ball-carrier and tackler Marcell Coetzee, a result of the coach’s new emphasis on the breakdown.

The defensive frailties of Basson are a concern and the awful mistake he made in the Bulls’ 22 during the SuperRugby final led to the match-winning, last-minute try by the Brumbies. JJ Engelbrecht, the outside centre for Saturday’s Test, has also shown a propensity to rush out of the defensive line, and the cut-throat intensity of international rugby means such mistakes can mean the difference between victory and defeat.

“We’ve only had one defence session during the week and it’s difficult to fix things like that in that time. But they are both great players and I have a lot of confidence in our defence, we’ve only been conceding a little more than one try per Test on average.

“Bjorn and JJ are both brilliant attackers and that means the other guys need to defend too. I want an attacking mindset, they say the best form of defence is attack, and even the best backline in the world will make mistakes now and then,” Meyer said.

Kolisi confirmed that the breakdown would be his key focus.

“I want to become more of an openside flank and I’ve been working hard on slowing down the ball and getting to the ball first. Richie Gray [the Springboks’ new breakdown consultant] really knows what he is talking about and he’s had us getting quickly off the ground.

“These days you can’t play with nobody for the breakdown, you need quick ball in order to score tries, and we’re looking forward to getting better in that department.

“It’s my first game in the Rugby Championship, so it’s huge for me. I don’t feel entrenched in the squad because there are a lot of good loose forwards, and I must perform well every week to stay part of the 23,” Kolisi said.

Meyer said pace to the breakdowns would be crucial against Argentina because they employ similar tactics to the All Blacks.

“Argentina give you the outside gaps and then counter-ruck you, like the All Blacks do. So cleaning out at the rucks is very important,” Meyer said.

Meyer will hope for the same precision and attention to detail in all facets of the game if the Springboks are to avoid turning the celebrations of Nelson Mandela’s birthday into a sorry start to the Rugby Championship.

Team: 15-Willie le Roux, 14-Bryan Habana, 13-JJ Engelbrecht, 12-Jean de Villiers, 11-Bjorn Basson, 10-Morne Steyn, 9-Ruan Pienaar, 8-Duane Vermeulen, 7-Willem Alberts, 6-Francois Louw, 5-Juandre Kruger, 4-Eben Etzebeth, 3-Jannie du Plessis, 2-Adriaan Strauss, 1-Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: 16-Bismarck du Plessis, 17-Gurthro Steenkamp, 18-Coenie Oosthuizen, 19-Flip van der Merwe, 20-Siya Kolisi, 21-Fourie du Preez, 22-Pat Lambie, 23-Jan Serfontein.

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-08-15-rugby-championship-boks-lineup-will-have-its-hands-full-against-argentina/#.WFPh-rJ97IU

Six changes in Bulls starting line-up in Sydney 0

Posted on May 12, 2016 by Ken

 

Bulls coach Nollis Marais, his eyes firmly on the potential conference decider in 10 days’ time against the Stormers, has made nine changes, six in the starting line-up, as his team end their time in Australia with a tough match against the Waratahs in Sydney on Saturday.

Jamba Ulengo, who only arrived back in Australia at the weekend, comes straight back in on the right wing in place of Travis Ismaiel, who injured his hamstring. Tian Schoeman and Rudy Paige will also be in the pivotal halfback positions, with Francois Brummer and Piet van Zyl on the bench.

With Jason Jenkins fit again and back in the second row alongside RG Snyman, Jannes Kirsten also returns to the starting loose trio because he is no longer required to also provide lock cover off the bench.

Lizo Gqoboka comes in at loosehead prop for Trevor Nyakane in the other change to the starting line-up.

Nyakane joins hooker Jaco Visagie and tighthead Pierre Schoeman in a new-look replacement front row on the bench, while Dries Swanepoel is in the utility back position in place of Dan Kriel.

“The main thing is we wanted to win against the Brumbies before rotating players, but unfortunately we don’t have that luxury. Not all our best players will be on the field, but the guys that have come in will bring something different. Guys like Tian and Rudy were good earlier in the season and we must get momentum for the next three games, which are vital,” Marais explained from Sydney on Wednesday.

The first test for the Bulls against the Waratahs will be up front in the scrums and Marais is confident his front row can get the job done.

“We started well against the Brumbies but then we lost a couple of scrums in the second half because of early engagement. But Lizo is a good scrummager, this is a good scrummaging front row and it might be the new front row for the next three games,” Marais said.

While rotation was always going to be on the cards for the last game on tour, Marais said the players are still feeling fresh and enthusiastic.

“We know the next three weeks will be very hard, but the guys tell me they don’t want to rest, they want to play. They’re lus to keep going,” Marais said.

Bulls team: SP Marais, Jamba Ulengo, Jesse Kriel, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Tian Schoeman, Rudy Paige, Hanro Liebenberg, Jannes Kirsten, Lappies Labuschagne, RG Snyman, Jason Jenkins, Marcel van der Merwe, Adriaan Strauss (c), Lizo Gqoboka. Bench – Jaco Visagie, Trevor Nyakane, Pierre Schoeman, Marvin Orie, Roelof Smit, Piet van Zyl, Francois Brummer, Dries Swanepoel.

Sharks end Highlanders’ home run with sheer character 2

Posted on April 25, 2016 by Ken

 

The Cell C Sharks ended the eight-match winning home run of the Highlanders, the defending Vodacom SuperRugby champions, with a gutsy 15-14 win in Dunedin on Friday, in a display that proves there is obviously great character and potential in their side.

The Sharks were helped by the 13th-minute red-carding of centre Jason Emery, who clattered into Willie le Roux while he was in the air fielding a kick, causing the fullback to suffer a horrendous fall on to his neck and head. Fortunately the Springbok was able to return to the field after a concussion test.

The error-rate of the Highlanders was also a major factor, with the home side making numerous handling errors to stymie their often dangerous attacking play, but the scrambling defence of the Sharks was outstanding, deserving some of the credit for forcing mistakes.

The Sharks made the most nervy of starts as they received the kick-off and set a driving maul, but were immediately penalised for obstruction, flyhalf Lima Sopoaga slotting the kick and giving the Highlanders the first three points on the scoreboard.

Flyhalf Garth April, making his first Super Rugby start, then sent the restart too deep and conceded a scrum in centre-field.

The battering for the Sharks started in the seventh minute when Sopoaga was late and led with the shoulder in a tackle on Cobus Reinach. April kicked the resulting penalty to level the scores, but the scrumhalf limped off the field with a leg-injury.

The Le Roux/Emery incident happened six minutes later and the hard-working eighthman, Philip van der Walt, also left the field in the first half with an injury.

In the 11th minute, April kicked a second penalty after the Highlanders collapsed the Sharks’ maul, after a lineout had been won five metres from the tryline thanks to a clever kick by wing Odwa Ndungane.

But despite being reduced to 14 men after Emery’s deserved ejection, the Highlanders dominated the first half. Their superior spatial recognition and the way they beat the Sharks’ first-time tacklers and dominated the collisions meant the visitors were forced to defend for long periods.

That the Sharks went into halftime 6-3 up was only thanks to Sopoaga being short with two penalties, the handling mistakes made on attack by the Highlanders and some heroic scrambling defence.

There was no better example of their courageous defence than in the last three minutes when the Highlanders piled on the pressure and the yellow-carding of lock Stephan Lewies was a potentially crippling development. But the Sharks held on magnificently and twice held the opposition up over the line.

Early in the second half, the Sharks showed some improved attacking ability, their forwards – especially Van der Walt’s replacement Jean Deysel – carrying the ball powerfully and the backline showing super ball-retention, trapping the Highlanders offsides and allowing April to stretch their lead to 9-3 with another penalty.

Lewies returned but the Sharks were only able to enjoy their 15-14 advantage for half-a-dozen minutes as the Highlanders piled on the pressure with good attacking play, leading to two penalties by Sopoaga and a yellow card for outside centre JP Pietersen, who showed ill-discipline in playing, while he was on the ground, scrumhalf Aaron Smith.

The Sharks did regain a 56th-minute lead through another April penalty (12-9), but, two minutes later, wing Matt Faddes managed to stretch his 1.85-metre frame and dot the ball down in the right-hand corner, having evaded Le Roux’s last-ditch tackle.

The Highlanders were 14-12 up going into the last five minutes; as a team, they have an attacking framework, but what followed was utter madness as they tried to run the ball from their own tryline and were forced to concede a five-metre lineout.

They stopped the driving maul and the Sharks, although they enjoyed a dominant scrum in the final quarter thanks to the introductions of Lourens Adriaanse and Chiliboy Ralepelle, were not able to exploit the extra space out wide with the Highlanders missing a centre.

But there was a penalty for them, which April slotted for a perfect five-from-five record with the boot, and a timely, shock victory for the embattled Sharks.

Even then, the Highlanders duffed a chance to snatch the win through a missed drop goal by Sopoaga and then a forward pass as a fitting final act.

There is still a lot of work ahead for the Sharks, even though they have kept themselves in touch with the leaders in the South African Group. But the attitude and commitment are clearly there, and that will be highly encouraging for coach Gary Gold.

Scorers

Highlanders: Try – Matt Faddes. Penalties – Lima Sopoaga (3).

Cell C Sharks: Penalties – Garth April (5)

http://citizen.co.za/1085900/sharks-end-highlanders-home-run-with-sheer-character/

Titans grab the Knights’ banker & raid the Dolphins 0

Posted on April 18, 2016 by Ken

 

The Titans will announce three new signings for their champion outfit on Friday as they have lured one of the most consistent bowlers in franchise cricket and two young batsmen just looking for half-a-chance to reach their potential to Centurion.

Malusi Siboto, a stalwart of the Knights attack with 98 wickets in 39 matches at an average of 31 in Sunfoil Series cricket, is the bowler who will be joining the Titans, while Jonathan Vandiar and Daniel Sincuba, both from the Dolphins, are the batsmen moving to Centurion.

Vandiar was considered one of the brightest young batting talents in the country when he played for the Highveld Lions as an U19 star, before joining the Dolphins in the 2012/13 season. But the left-hander has never really fulfilled his talent, something Titans coach Rob Walter wants to change.

“Everyone knows he has talent and we’d like to help him realise that. If you go back a few years at the Lions, he was close to national honours and then just got lost a bit. He’s certainly got potential and I believe he can thrive in our environment,” Walter told The Citizen.

Sincuba impressed the Titans when he scored 41 against them last season in Durban, but the 23-year-old has only played sporadically for the Dolphins since then. He will join the Titans as the back-up wicketkeeper to Heinrich Klaasen, with Mangaliso Mosehle having joined the Lions.

“We wanted a young batsman that we could really grow his game, we’re strong enough in terms of senior batsmen and we’d like to invest our energy in a young cricketer. He’s a top-order batsman and it’s hugely important that we have depth there. The key is to create competition and, most importantly, give us different options when we need to change the balance of the side and play horses-for-courses,” Walter said.

The 28-year-old Siboto has been the banker of the Knights attack and took 28 Sunfoil Series wickets at an average of just 20 this season, as well as being the leading wicket-taker in the Momentum One-Day Cup and matching West Indian team-mate Andre Russell’s excellent figures in the RamSlam T20 Challenge. The left-hand batsman is also very capable with the willow and will lengthen the Titans’ tail.

“He can perform in all three formats, he’s a really solid and consistent bowler and we needed some seniority in our attack to help bring the young bowlers through. He brings experience and has been a very successful bowler with the Knights,” Walter said.

The signing of Siboto does compensate for the loss of fast bowler Marchant de Lange to the Knights.

“He’s a very different bowler to Marchant but we still have Rowan Richards, the spin options are still there, David Wiese and Chris Morris will play if they’re not with the national side and these guys can combine with our youth,” Walter said.

The other big departure from the Titans is batsman Theunis de Bruyn, but Aiden Markram, the U19 World Cup-winning captain, has joined the contracted list in his place.

Titans contracted players: Henry Davids, Albie Morkel, David Wiese, Chris Morris, Heino Kuhn, Daniel Sincuba, Malusi Siboto, Jonathan Vandiar, Aiden Markram, Heinrich Klaasen, Grant Thomson, Lungi Ngidi, Junior Dala, Tabraiz Shamsi, Shaun von Berg, Qaasim Adams, Rowan Richards, Grant Mokoena, Ethy Mbhalati.

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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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