for quality writing

Ken Borland



Boks honour Madiba with inspired rout of Argentina 0

Posted on January 20, 2017 by Ken

 

Captain Jean de Villiers praised “Madiba Magic” for once again inspiring the Springboks as they registered a record-breaking 73-13 annihilation of Argentina in their opening Rugby Championship game at FNB Stadium on Saturday.

The Springboks returned to Soweto to be part of Nelson Mandela Sport and Culture Day to honour the unwell Father of the Nation. The tremendous atmosphere undoubtedly inspired them as they played in front of an audience that was far more representative of the demographics of the country than usual, thanks to Bafana Bafana playing before them in a 2-0 victory over Burkina Faso.

“The atmosphere was fantastic and we definitely enjoyed it. Today was about more than just rugby and sport, it was about the whole of South Africa, uniting the nation and celebrating someone who did that so well. The Madiba Magic worked for us again,” De Villiers said.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer also tapped into the occasion in motivating his team.

“The team talk was simple: I told them it was a special occasion and they should produce a big performance to make Madiba proud, and also to show a lot of soccer supporters who haven’t seen us play before what we can do,” Meyer said after the game. “It was one of those days when everything went right, what stood out was how clinical we were and we built an innings well.”

But the biggest victory in the history of the Tri-Nations/Rugby Championship didn’t just happen thanks to everything coming together magically day-of. Meyer is renowned as a tactician and strategist and plenty of homework has gone into this year’s Sanzar tournament, with the coach pointing out how much more time he has had to prepare this time around.

The attention to detail was most obvious in the scrum laws, where a new engagement sequence was being used for the first time. Far from the new laws hurting the Springbok forwards, as some quarters in Australia have suggested, it seems South Africa, under the astute guidance of former French prop Pieter de Villiers, might well be pioneers in this new era of scrummaging. The highly respected Pumas scrum was dominated throughout and they even conceded a try from a tighthead late in the second half.

As Meyer pointed out, the entire coaching team deserved credit for the impressive performance. Meyer has made it his mission to fix the Springboks’ breakdown woes, the main cause of the controversial quarterfinal exit from the 2011 World Cup, and the acquisition of Scottish breakdown expert Richie Gray has clearly paid dividends as South Africa were far more efficient in the rucks than when they last played Argentina and were held to a messy 16-16 draw. Four of the nine Springbok tries came from rolling mauls, the speciality of forward coach Johan van Graan, while the lineout was imperious and the defence excellent under John McFarland. The backs, under the guidance of Ricardo Loubscher, played with an air of adventure and intent that has not always been apparent.

Meyer is a strong proponent of laying a solid platform in a Test, building pressure, and the Springboks eased into Saturday’s match with three penalties in the first quarter from Morne Steyn, all from a long way out. The in-form flyhalf would go on to miss just one of his 13 kicks at goal as he netted 28 points – the third most in a Sanzar Test – and he also distributed slickly, a lovely inside pass for Duane Vermeulen’s try and the counter-attack he sparked that led to JJ Engelbrecht’s touchdown shortly before half-time being the highlights.

It was Vermeulen’s break on the half-hour that led to the Springboks’ opening try, the eighthman making an impressive return to top-flight rugby after a knee injury. After several penalties, and seeing several rolling mauls pulled down, referee Chris Pollock, in conjunction with the TMO, had little choice but to award a penalty try and a yellow card after Pumas hooker Eusebio Guinazu deliberately slapped down a pass to prevent Ruan Pienaar from scoring a try in an overlap.

Engelbrecht’s try, after Steyn’s counter-attack and a deft chip by Willie le Roux, was the Springboks’ second, but they proceeded to run riot in the second half as seven further tries were scored to break the previous Sanzar record of eight (scored by South Africa against Australia at Loftus Versfeld in 1997).

The massive victory had its foundation in the ability of ferocious ball-carriers like Eben Etzebeth, Willem Alberts, Vermeulen and Adriaan Strauss to smash their way over the advantage line from the steady supply of front-foot balls they were allowed to enjoy by the Springboks’ dominance in the scrums and lineouts.

Apart from the magnificent performance of the pack, Meyer will also have to mull over selection because alongside as the starting XV played, there were some performances off the bench that were equally compelling.

What wonderful depth the Springbok coach has at his disposal when Strauss – named man of the match – can be replaced by the best hooker in the world in Bismarck du Plessis, while the two substitute props, Gurthro Steenkamp and Coenie Oosthuizen, seamlessly continued the great work of Tendai Mtawarira and Jannie du Plessis.

While Etzebeth stole the show with his rampaging display, Juandre Kruger was superb in the lineouts and the Springboks don’t lose much when Flip van der Merwe enters the fray. Siya Kolisi was all energy when he came on in the 65th minute, while Pat Lambie and Jan Serfontein both made telling runs that led to tries in their short cameos.

But it was the 25-minute display by substitute scrumhalf Fourie du Preez that had most tongues wagging. It’s a great pity that his Japanese club, Suntory Sungoliath, will only allow him to play in the Springboks’ home fixtures, because the 2007 World Cup hero oozed class and he also seems to get the best out of starting halfback Pienaar.

“I’m very happy with both the scrumhalves. That was Ruan’s best performance since I started coaching him, while Fourie showed he still has a lot of speed, he was brilliant and he still managed to pick up the tempo even more. I think he brought out the best in Ruan, and Jano Vermaak and Piet van Zyl must step up now too.

“One of our really strong points was our unbelievable bench. Usually things become loose when you bring on a lot of replacements, but the subs were awesome today. I was even able to take my captain off with 25 minutes left,” Meyer said.

While 52,000 people at the FNB Stadium were treated to a wonderful main show on a great day, the scary thing is the Springboks could well have won by more. In the first half especially, their backs fluffed chances due to poor handling and a lack of cohesion.

“We still didn’t use all our opportunities, we created a couple that we didn’t capitalise on. And to put everything in perspective, we were playing against a team that had two yellow cards and we scored an intercept try,” De Villiers admitted.

“We expect a totally different beast in Mendoza, they’ll be hurting. But we need to enjoy this win, days like this don’t come along very often, and we have some confidence to build on.”

We will have to wait until the Springboks have played a couple more games in this tournament before we have enough evidence for a final verdict on their ability to unseat the world champion All Blacks, who ensured a torrid debut for Ewen McKenzie as Wallabies coach as they thumped Australia 47-29 in Sydney.

It was a very poor night for the Pumas, who were also disrupted by losing two key players in lock Patricio Albacete and fullback Juan Martin Hernandez in the first half. How much of that was down to the Springboks’ brilliance is difficult to quantify. But the portents are good for a much stronger South African challenge in this year’s Rugby Championship.

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-08-19-springboks-pummel-pumas/#.WIH421N97IU

Adams frees his arms but can’t beat the rain 0

Posted on February 18, 2016 by Ken

 

Qaasim Adams freed his arms to record-breaking effect at the end of the Titans innings, but to no avail as their Momentum One-Day Cup match against the Highveld Lions in Centurion was washed out on Wednesday night.

Adams hammered 50 off just 21 balls – reaching his half-century off 20 deliveries, the fastest in the competition’s history – to boost the Titans to 240 for six in 35 overs, after rain had initially interrupted their innings on 118 for two in the 26th over. Four big-hitters of note had previously notched a fifty off 21 balls – Justin Kemp, Adrian McLaren, Richard Levi and Dwaine Pretorius.

The Highveld Lions, set a revised target of 255 in 35 overs, then breezed to 74 for one in 10.1 overs with Rassie van der Dussen (33*) and Alviro Petersen (37*) in imperious form.

The Lions will now go on to the Momentum One-Day Cup playoff match against the Warriors in Johannesburg next Wednesday.

The Lions had won the toss and elected to bowl first and looked in serious trouble when Aiden Markram (37 off 25) was off to a flier at the top of the innings and left-arm opening bowler Carmi le Roux left the field in his third over with a leg injury. Having already lost spinner Eddie Leie to an injury in the warm-up, the Lions were forced to employ part-time bowlers Stephen Cook and Petersen, while coach Geoff Toyana came out to field until a young Tshwane University of Technology player, William Wentzel, could be found to fill in as 12th man for the visitors.

Grant Mokoena (37) and Dean Elgar (38 off 32) were in the middle of their 71-run third-wicket stand when the first storm arrived and, when they were dismissed within three balls of each other, it was left to Adams, who launched five sixes, and Albie Morkel (21 off 9) to add the finishing touches to the innings.

Pumelela Matshikwe was the best of the Lions bowlers, with two for 44 in seven overs, although he bowled a horrible last over which included two wides, two no-balls and a six and a four by Adams when he went to his half-century.

 

AB relieved to get 1st Test win under the belt 0

Posted on January 27, 2016 by Ken

 

 

AB de Villiers was understandably relieved after getting his first victory under the belt as the new Proteas Test captain after South Africa rode Kagiso Rabada’s record-breaking 13-wicket haul to hammer England by 280 runs in the fourth Test at Centurion on Tuesday.

Although the win was not enough to prevent England from winning the series 2-1, it did bring to an end a run of nine Tests without victory for South Africa, their worst streak since nine draws and a loss between February 1964 and July 1965 against New Zealand and England.

“Teams go through phases and I never felt it was panic stations. In this game we managed to apply pressure for longer and did the basics better, and because of that we got it right in terms of the result, it’s not that complicated. If you do the small things right, more often than not you’ll win.

“It feels a bit like a new beginning, although it’s dangerous to say that. We’re doing the same things we’ve done for the last few years and we haven’t changed our thought processes. Our attitude was always good, but this is definitely a step in the right direction. There are a lot of reasons to feel that,” De Villiers said.

The 31-year-old said his own form with the bat – he made the first pair of his Test career and his third duck in a row – did not taken any shine off the triumph.

“I’ve always said I love it when we win, I honestly don’t care how many ducks I get as long as we win. I’m a very happy man,” De Villiers smiled.

Rabada was an obvious man of the match after his phenomenal performance, beating out brilliant showings by Hashim Amla, Stephen Cook, Quinton de Kock and Temba Bavuma, with De Villiers saying he was impressed by the 20-year-old’s maturity.

“Every time I asked him to perform he did. He’s shown the maturity of someone who’s played more than a hundred Tests, while he’s got the pace of someone who’s just played one or two!

“KG has impressed us all, we need to look after him very well and make sure that he’s always fresh when he walks on to the field. A guy like him is always hugely exciting,” De Villiers said.

Rabada ensured that it was all over in a rush on the final morning, South Africa needing just 68 minutes to take the last seven England wickets for a paltry 49 runs. After Morne Morkel (three for 36) and spinner Dane Piedt made early strikes, Rabada rushed through the rest to finish with six for 32.

It gave him match figures of 13 for 144, which are unprecedented for a fast bowler of his age.

In the history of Test cricket, only one bowler, Indian spinner Narendra Hirwani, has had a better return at a younger age, taking 16 for 136 for India against the West Indies in Chennai when he was just 19 years and 85 days old.

Rabada’s figures are also the best ever for South Africa against England, and the second-best against all opposition, bettered only by Makhaya Ntini’s 13 for 132 against the West Indies at Port-of-Spain in 2004/5.

 

 

Rossouw studying at the feet of master Amla 0

Posted on March 31, 2015 by Ken

Rilee Rossouw was studying at the feet of the master to great effect as he and Hashim Amla gave South Africa a record-breaking start in the second Momentum One-Day International against the West Indies at the Wanderers on Sunday.

South Africa had been sent in to bat in cloudy, cool conditions and they overcame the early new-ball tests as Amla and Rossouw launched them to 142 without loss after 25 overs.

The stand has put the Proteas’ newest ODI opening pair into the record books as the best first-wicket partnership for South Africa against the West Indies, beating the 131 Graeme Smith and Boeta Dippenaar put on in Kingston in 2004/05.

Amla was in prime form from the start, breezing to a 58-ball half-century as he drove and hooked his way to five boundaries, punishing the slightest errors in length by the West Indian bowlers.

Rossouw, who made his fifth duck in 10 innings in the first ODI in Durban, struggled at the start but hung in there and some inspired strokeplay later on in his innings saw him go to a career-best 62 not out.

While Amla always looked in control going to 72 not out off 76 balls, Rossouw had several miscues and was fortunate to survive on 31 when umpire Adrian Holdstock gave him out lbw trying to paddle-sweep left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn.

Rossouw immediately reviewed the decision and, although Snickometer showed no obvious contact with the bat, third umpire Sundaram Ravi overturned the decision leaving Big Benn as gloomy as the weather in London.

 http://citizen.co.za/309031/record-breaking-start-proteas/

  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • Thought of the Day

    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



↑ Top