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Ken Borland



Big Trevor & the lollipop: Meyer leaving nothing to chance 0

Posted on December 22, 2016 by Ken

Being one of the largest specimens of humanity in Pretoria, Trevor Nyakane is not exactly hard to spot. But I was nevertheless very excited to see him at Loftus Versfeld the other day, mostly because of what he was doing.

The Bulls prop was busy with Springbok assistant coach John McFarland practising lineout throwing, with the defence guru using the big metal “lollipop stick” he designed exactly for this purpose to replicate Victor Matfield’s hands soaring high above the opposition and claiming the throw that sets up the maul that sets up the try that wins South Africa the World Cup later this year.

I was intrigued because I figured this may mean Nyakane is being groomed to play hooker for the Springboks.

There has not been much for the Bulls to be happy about this season, but Nyakane has been one of the few shining lights at Loftus Versfeld, and here, at the same venue, he was showing the adaptability that has already seen him master the tighthead position, having left the Cheetahs as a loosehead at the start of the year.

I was very excited because, if Nyakane could play as a back-up No 2 it would mean Heyneke Meyer could name just two hookers in his squad, thereby freeing up a place that could help unblock the amazing loose forward log-jam he has to wrestle with.

Because the World Cup in England will be just an overnight flight away from South Africa, it means Nyakane could sit on the bench if one of the two match-day hookers went down on the eve of a game, with a replacement being flown over if the injury was more long-term.

At the moment, Meyer can only take five loose forwards to the World Cup (with Oupa Mohoje going as a lock), so Duane Vermeulen, Francois Louw, Willem Alberts, Schalk Burger and Marcell Coetzee would appear to be the frontrunners. But that would mean leaving quality, in-form players such as Jaco Kriel, Warren Whiteley, Siya Kolisi and Nizaam Carr behind, so any scheme that could sneak one of those on to the plane to England should be investigated.

Unfortunately it’s turned out that this was one of the many occasions when I was getting ahead of myself and Nyakane is definitely not being groomed as a hooker and Meyer will choose three No 2s in the World Cup squad.

But it is one of the many examples of how detailed Meyer’s planning is for the World Cup because Nyakane is being trained as a back-up thrower should the on-field hooker get a yellow card. Of which Bismarck du Plessis has many.

It’s an emergency policy for 10 minutes, but it has happened a couple of times to the Springboks in the last two years, with Vermeulen notably forced to throw into the lineout against Ireland last year.

It’s another of the many one-percenters that Meyer reckons could decide the World Cup and the Springbok coach has gone into minute detail in his planning. That includes poring over the minutiae of every previous tournament and the venues where his team will play. He has even gone into the weather records and keeps an eye on the long-term forecasts.

Unfortunately there still seems to be no solution to the problem that will see the likes of Kriel, Whiteley, Kolisi and Carr staying at home!

http://citizen.co.za/sport/sport-columnists/408023/kb-col/

Last rites for sad Bulls with Matfield last link to glory days 0

Posted on December 14, 2016 by Ken

 

The Bulls will complete another sad SuperRugby campaign in Pretoria today against the Cheetahs and, by the end of the game, Victor Matfield could be the last person remaining at Loftus Versfeld with any link to the glory days of 2007-2010 when they won the competition three times in four years.

The Bulls confirmed yesterday that the match against the Cheetahs will be the last for captain Pierre Spies and flyhalf Jacques-Louis Potgieter as they join the overseas exodus of players that will also include Jacques du Plessis, Flip van der Merwe and Akona Ndungane, while Francois Hougaard is heading for Japan but negotiations are underway for him to return for next year’s SuperRugby tournament.

Matfield is not playing against the Cheetahs because he is being rested as per the agreement with the Springbok management, but he has already announced that his playing days will be over after the World Cup.

But the veteran lock is bound to be back at Loftus Versfeld in the new year because he is the favourite to replace Frans Ludeke as coach. The man who was behind the 2009 and 2010 wins faced the Bulls board yesterday in a last-ditch attempt to save his job, but unless there was a late change in heart, Ludeke is also on his way out.

So there will be a sombre mood at Loftus Versfeld tonight, made worse by the knowledge that even a Bulls victory will do little to change their fortunes in another season that has fallen way short of expectations.

At least the rugby on offer could provide some entertainment.

New Cheetahs coach Franco Smith is preaching an expansive, linking style of play, while Spies has stressed how determined the Bulls are to end on a high.

“There’s plenty of motivation because we want to end on a high. If we can get five points and finish in the top eight on the log then the picture looks a bit better. We want to play a good attacking brand of rugby and hold on to the ball for a few more phases. There should be plenty of broken-field play and the Cheetahs love that as well,” Spies said.

Putting their bodies on the line in defence is probably not going to rank too high on either side’s list of priorities, but the Bulls should have a slight edge in motivation as they look to avoid a third defeat on home soil this season.

 

Snyman & Bulls eager to avoid repeat of last year 0

Posted on October 12, 2016 by Ken

 

Listening to Western Province coach John Dobson talking about the Blue Bulls having all the pressure as favourites in this weekend’s Currie Cup semi-final, it reminds one of the same stage of the competition last year when the Capetonians came to Pretoria and upset the home side.

Bulls lock RG Snyman is well aware of the history and is eager to avoid the same painful result this time around.

“We were in the same situation last year playing against Western Province at Loftus Versfeld and we’d like to change what happened in that game. The way we do that is by not changing what we’ve been doing this season, we have to stick to what we’ve been doing. But the good thing is that this semi-final feels like nothing new, it’s quite a difference playing it now when we’ve all been through another whole Currie Cup season and a season of Super Rugby,” Snyman told The Citizen on Tuesday.

The Bulls have focused on an exciting brand of rugby, but they went down 23-18 to Western Province in last year’s semi-final thanks to the visitors not allowing them any platform or space to play the type of rugby they wanted to produce.

This year they come to Pretoria with a much-less hardened pack and the Bulls youngsters are all a year older and coming into their prime, most notably Snyman, who turned 21 only this year.

“Western Province have a good pack and it will definitely be a physical battle, especially in the set-pieces. But if we can dominate at forward then we should do really well. With the break we’ve had a bit more time to prepare and the team has clicked a bit better through the competition. Hopefully we’ll see that greater experience and better cohesion come through now at the end of the tournament,” Snyman said.

Springbok reserve hooker Bongi Mbonambi will be coming to Loftus, as should prop Oli Kebble and lock JD Schickerling, and the Bulls are going to have to show some real grunt up front to ensure they make the final.

Bulls move into top two by hammering Griquas 0

Posted on September 20, 2016 by Ken

The Vodacom Blue Bulls moved into the top two of the Currie Cup on Friday night, playing some terrific rugby in a 57-20 win over Griquas at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Friday night.

With the Free State Cheetahs already four points clear with a game in hand, and the Sharks eyeing a bonus point win over the Eastern Province Kings on Saturday to join the Bulls on 25 points, the race for the second home semi-final now seems to be a two-horse race between the teams from Pretoria and Durban.

The Bulls were actually 10-0 down inside the first 10 minutes as they twice lost the ball inside the Griquas 22, allowing the visitors to counter-attack to good effect.

In the sixth minute, a strong run by centre Dries Swanepoel had put the Bulls on attack, but lock RG Snyman’s pass to scrumhalf Piet van Zyl then went astray and outside centre Jonathan Francke pounced, bursting clear before passing to flyhalf Elgar Watts, who kicked long for wing Alshaun Bock to show his considerable pace and chase down the ball for the opening try.

Inside centre Clinton Swart converted and then kicked a penalty from the halfway line after the Bulls had won a box-kick but been counter-rucked off the ball on the Griquas’ 22. The visitors were awarded a penalty and from the lineout they set up, the Bulls backline strayed offsides.

The Bulls stuck to their plan of mauls and box-kicks in setting up their first try, flank Nic de Jager bustling over in the 16th minute, flyhalf Tian Schoeman converting to cut the gap to 7-10.

But the Bulls then showed in the third quarter that they can playing different types of rugby to tremendous effect.

Their second try was a classic training ground move as hooker Jaco Visagie wrapped around at the lineout to get the ball from lock Marvin Orie, showing good pace as he then passed to Schoeman, whose inside ball went to wing Jamba Ulengo, screaming through for a dazzling try under the poles, the flyhalf’s conversion putting the Bulls four points ahead.

The lineout was a tremendous attacking base for the Bulls and, in the 25th minute, they stole a Griquas throw, Van Zyl running from his own 22 to the opposition 22, before Schoeman quickly passed the ball wide, De Jager getting over the advantage line and Snyman then bulldozing his way over for the try.

The boots of Swart and Schoeman then added penalties with the Bulls going into halftime with a 24-13 lead and obviously in the ascendancy.

The breakdown work of the Bulls was also excellent and the combined efforts of Roelof Smit and De Jager fighting for the ball won a turnover inside the first minute of the second half, Swanepoel having a dart and then providing a lovely offload for Van Zyl to race clear and score from 40 metres out.

Lock Snyman is undoubtedly one of the brightest talents in the country, but the over-exuberance of the giant 21-year-old was then shown as he made a dangerous cleanout, with a forearm to the face of Francke, which led to fullback Ulrich Beyers’ try being disallowed and a yellow card being given for his troubles.

But the Bulls scrum was ultra-efficient on the night, consistently dominating Griquas, and they won a free kick eight minutes later, allowing Beyers to make up for his earlier vile misfortune as he waltzed through a  huge gap in midfield to claim his first try since his return to Pretoria.

Five minutes later, Orie gobbled up a turnover to put the Bulls on attack and, from a penalty, Van Zyl took a quick tap and beat several defenders as he jinked his way over the tryline, Schoeman’s conversion opening a yawning 43-13 gap on Griquas.

A try to replacement lock Wandile Putuma, set free by substitute scrumhalf Renier Botha’s quick tap-and-go, was a rare ray of light for Griquas, but the Bulls were focused on more tries and they dotted down two more times before the end of the game.

Snyman cut through the defences like a death-ray on a brilliant 70-metre run, setting up a five-metre scrum for the Bulls. Another massive shove by the Bulls pack led referee Quinton Immelman, who had a good game himself, to award a penalty try. Schoeman converted and the Bulls had brought up a half-century.

Replacement fullback Bjorn Basson then scored a fine try on the final hooter, after the Bulls forwards had won a turnover, the Springbok brushing aside a couple of defenders in a strong finish. Schoeman, a composed director of affairs for the Bulls, added the conversion to finish with a record of eight from 10 kicks at goal and seal a top-class win for the home side.

Scorers

Vodacom Blue BullsTries: Nic de Jager, Jamba Ulengo, RG Snyman, Piet van Zyl (2), Ulrich Beyers, Penalty try, Bjorn Basson. Conversions: Tian Schoeman (7). Penalty: Schoeman.

GriquasTries: Alshaun Bock, Wandile Putuma. Conversions: Clinton Swart (2). Penalties: Swart (2).

http://citizen.co.za/1288455/bulls-move-into-top-two-by-hammering-griquas/

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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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