for quality writing

Ken Borland



The World Cup beckons for both the SA men’s & women’s hockey sides 0

Posted on November 06, 2017 by Ken

 

The World Cup beckons for both the South African women’s and men’s hockey teams after coach Sheldon Rostron pulled off the remarkable feat of steering both sides to the African Cup of Nations title in Ismailia, Egypt, at the weekend.

While the women, who went through the Africa Cup tournament without conceding a goal, had already qualified for the 2018 World Cup in London thanks to their fifth-place finish in the World League Semifinals, the men were under severe pressure, in the last-chance saloon, to beat hosts Egypt and win the continental crown which also gets them to the World Cup, the men’s event being held in India.

With just two minutes remaining in the final, Jethro Eustice scored from a penalty corner to give South Africa the 2-1 victory.

“It was quite a daunting task in the beginning, but with the right preparation and planning it became a lot more simpler. I was lucky to have really good support staff and I was really proud of both sets of players,” Rostron told The Citizen on Tuesday when asked how tough it was to coach two teams at the same tournament.

“The specific objective of the women’s side was to not have any goals scored against us, we were using a different structure, and I’m really pleased that worked out and that the ranking points we gained should lift us back to the 11th spot in the world.

“The men’s side had qualification for the World Cup hanging over us, but we implemented a very good process which the players bought into and it was very good to see it come to fruition. In the final though, our plans didn’t work out so well, we were 1-0 down after the first quarter and we had to be more aggressive,” Rostron said.

Competing in Africa, where there is a wide range of strengths when it comes to the opposition, also meant the teams had to at times rein themselves in so as not to become too loose. For the men, this was especially important as a daunting final against Egypt, who beat them in the World League in July, was always going to be lying ahead.

“We had to be very specific, it couldn’t just be about scoring goals and going crazy, every match we played was about using the tactics we were going to use in the final. African teams are so unconventional and forever changing. But now there is a lot of positivity going forward in South African hockey,” Rostron said.

https://citizen.co.za/sport/sport-other-sport/1711538/smart-planning-key-in-sas-brilliant-hockey-double/

Kings bounce back with only SA victory 0

Posted on September 03, 2015 by Ken

 

The Southern Kings bounced back in impressive fashion, providing South Africa’s only victory in the weekend’s Vodacom SuperRugby action, as they pulled off a hard-fought 34-27 win over the Highlanders in Port Elizabeth.

The tenacious victory lifted the gloom somewhat after a weekend in which the Sharks, Cheetahs and Stormers all lost, giving the Bulls, who had a bye, a handy five-point lead in the South African Conference.

Under the inspiring leadership of Luke Watson, the Kings were clinical and composed under pressure, scoring after the half-time hooter to reclaim the lead and then dominating the third quarter to open up a commanding 34-17 lead. They then had to rely on heroic defence to keep out sustained pressure from a defiant Highlanders team that threw everything into attack.

Tries by centre Shaun Treeby and wing Hosea Gear forced the Kings to defend with all their might to claim their third victory of the season and climb to 13th in the overall standings.

While the way the Kings managed to rebound from their 72-10 mauling at the hands of the Waratahs last weekend was highly admirable, credit too must go to their supporters, who still turned up in droves, 18,500 of them, to back their team.

“A lot of credit must go to the crowd – we got absolutely pumped last week and to see this crowd here – it’s thanks to the supporters for turning up. We really appreciate the support.

“We were able to bounce back and showed a lot of character,” Watson, who scored two tries from rolling mauls, said after the game.

Outstanding loose forward Cornell du Preez and scrumhalf Shaun Venter then scored second-half tries to earn the Kings their second try-scoring bonus point of the season.

The Sharks and Stormers both lost in Australia, to the Reds and Waratahs respectively and now have a slim chance of making the playoffs, never mind tussling for the Conference title as they were expected to at the start of the campaign.

The Sharks once again made a dreadful start, lacking focus and any steel in defence, and the Reds, who showed superb vision and efficiency on attack, punished them ruthlessly, running up a 29-3 lead in 34 minutes as they scored four beautiful tries.

The Sharks were much better in the second half and pushed the Reds when they fought back to 29-17 with 15 minutes remaining, but Quade Cooper, who orchestrated the Queenslanders’ attack with customary panache, then settled the outcome when he kicked a penalty 72 minutes into the game.

The Stormers went down 21-15 to the Waratahs in Sydney and coach Allister Coetzee said he felt the “bounce of the ball” was just not going their way as they slumped to their second consecutive defeat and their sixth in 10 games.

“The bounce of the ball really does not favour us at this point in time, but one must give credit to the Waratahs. They kept their composure and they stuck it out to the end. It was a Test-match situation, it was a physical game, but they fronted up until the end,” he said.

But he perhaps gave away what the Stormers’ problem is at the moment – they are relying on things just happening for them – trusting that their brilliant defence will force mistakes from the opposition, rather than making opportunities themselves.

The Stormers made 155 tackles to the 77 of the Waratahs and that just proves that they made far too many errors, gifting too much possession to the home side.

Although they made a strong start to the second half and still led 15-11 going into the last five minutes, they were defending with their backs to the wall in the final quarter and it was Israel Folau and Berrick Barnes who eventually made the breakthrough for Folau to score his seventh try of the season.

The Cheetahs, meanwhile, lost 39-34 to the Hurricanes in Bloemfontein and were guilty of playing the wrong game, trying to beat the visitors at their own high-tempo, ball-in-hand approach.

The ascendancy of the Cheetahs in the tight phases demanded that they squeeze the Hurricanes and play the territory game, but instead the “old” Cheetahs reappeared.

The tactical kicking was poor, the attack was more a lateral shifting of the ball from side-to-side rather than anything incisive and direct, and the defence was below the high standards the Cheetahs have set recently.

http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-05-13-superrugby-wrap-inspired-kings-reward-loyal-fans/#.Veg1Pfmqqko

Sodden conditions can’t dampen Sharks’ ambition 0

Posted on August 24, 2015 by Ken

 

One would have thought the sodden conditions at King’s Park would have put a damper on the Cell C Sharks’ ambitions but they pulled off a superb bonus-point 29-12 win over the Emirates Lions in their Vodacom SuperRugby match in Durban on Saturday night.

There was a torrential downpour about an hour before kickoff and the rain was falling steadily until the second half, so ball-in-hand, positive rugby was never on the cards, but a magnificent forward display by the Sharks and the brilliant generalship of Pat Lambie at flyhalf allowed the Sharks to score four tries.

The foundation for their success was laid in the scrums.

The Lions’ scrum was one of the best in the competition last year, but the first-choice front row of Van der Merwe, Coetzee and Redelinghuys was strangely on the bench, and the Du Plessis brothers, Jannie and Bismarck, with the able assistance of Dale Chadwick at loosehead, won all the early battles in that set-piece and the Sharks’ first points as well as their second try both came from huge shoves by the pack.

The Lions were on the board first through a Marnitz Boshoff penalty in the third minute, but five minutes later, a stupendous scrum by the Sharks allowed Lambie to slot an angled penalty from between the 10m and halfway lines, a great effort considering the flooded field beneath his feet.

The Sharks’ rolling maul also had the Lions’ defence in disarray and it earned a penalty for the home side in the 21st minute, which Lambie pushed wide of the poles.

But the flyhalf’s liberal use of the crosskick also had the Lions scrambling and the first try came when Lambie’s kick to the left was won back by Lwazi Mvovo and the Springbok incumbent then spotted acres of space on the left and put in a pinpoint kick into the safe hands of Odwa Ndungane, who used the slippery surface to slide over the line.

The Sharks, in control up front and with a flyhalf who had clearly changed his game plan to suit the conditions, were obviously the best team in the first half and they made that dominance count with a second try in the 30th minute.

Strong forward drives by flank Renaldo Bothma  and debutant lock Lubabalo ‘Giant’ Mtyanda earned the Sharks a five-metre scrum. A massive shove made a try inevitable, but scrumhalf Cobus Reinach almost butchered the opportunity by not passing, before eventually reaching out at full-stretch to just dot the ball down on the line.

Boshoff kicked a second penalty for the Lions three minutes later, but the Sharks were so dominant that it didn’t seem to matter as they went into halftime 15-6 up.

Lions coach Johan Ackermann changed his entire front row early in the second half, and there was a noticeable improvement in the visitors’ performance, so one has to ask why they were on the bench in the first place, especially props Schalk van der Merwe and Julian Redelinghuys.

And so the Lions dominated the third quarter, allowing Boshoff to kick two more penalties and close the gap to 12-15.

But the Sharks, with Matt Stevens doing well at tighthead when he replaced the excellent Jannie du Plessis, regained the early dominance they had enjoyed at scrum-time and Ndungane, once again sharp when it came to contesting the ball in the air, forced the Lions to concede a lineout inside their 22 after another precise Lambie cross-kick.

Pieter-Steph du Toit, the best lineout jumper on the night, claimed the ball and the Sharks’ rolling maul bulldozed forward, flank Marcell Coetzee scoring the try.

Lambie’s conversion made it 22-12 and, with Lions captain and breakaway eighthman Warren Whiteley sent off the field for slapping the ball out of the hands of the halfback at a ruck, the Sharks rumbled over for another rolling-maul try by Coetzee to seal a convincing win.

The try was converted by Lambie, who had done so much in ensuring the dominance of the forwards was reflected on the scoreboard. He was ably assisted by halfback partner Reinach, and the Lions pairing of Boshoff and Ross Cronje, both Springbok hopefuls, were thoroughly outplayed by Lambie and Reinach.

The superb displays of the Du Plessis brothers, Du Toit, Reinach and Lambie will surely not go unnoticed by Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer with the World Cup in the northern hemisphere later this year.

Scorers

Sharks – Tries: Odwa Ndungane, Cobus Reinach, Marcell Coetzee (2). Conversions: Pat Lambie (3). Penalty: Lambie.

Lions – Penalties: Marnitz Boshoff (4).

 

 

 



↑ Top