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Ken Borland



John McFarland Column: No hiding from Boks’ biggest loss ever, but it was a perfect storm 0

Posted on September 21, 2017 by Ken

 

I obviously did not foresee South Africa losing 57-0 in Albany and there’s no hiding from the fact that it was a record for the Springboks’ biggest loss ever.

But I think it’s also fair to say that it was the perfect storm and everything went right for New Zealand and everything went wrong for the Springboks. The All Blacks were obviously very good on the day and executed every small chance they got, they ruthlessly punished little things.

It started when the Springboks were playing well but gave away a penalty, with the fullback in the line because they were in their attacking shape. Aaron Smith put the chip in with his weaker left foot and it bounced perfectly for Rieko Ioane.

That’s just the first example.

Then came the intercept try when there needed to be better decision-making under pressure by Jean-Luc du Preez.

The third try came after a penalty and the All Blacks bashed the ball up before the cross-kick, which I hear Beauden Barrett practises 50 times every Friday at the captain’s run. The Springboks had cover with Francois Hougaard there, but unfortunately the ball bounced out of his hands.

The fourth try came after Elton Jantjies produced a nothing kick, it was neither contestable nor deep enough, allowing the counter-attack, and with the hooker defending in the wide channel, the wing did not know whether to come in or stay out.

So it was 31-0 at halftime and in the second half two more tries were scored from five-metre lineouts. You need a back-row forward to stand at the back of the lineout, but Siya Kolisi was in the middle. The golden rule when defending lineouts close to your line is that you don’t give the opposition ball at the back because it basically takes out seven of your players and once they get over the advantage line it becomes a difficult fight.

On the direct one-on-one try scored through the flyhalf, you want your inside centre a bit closer to help and it should be a double-hit.

Allister Coetzee is now in a difficult position when it comes to who to bring into the team. The players had done relatively well before last weekend, but it’s obvious that he will have to make changes. Test rugby magnifies everything and one weakness will be exposed in glaring fashion.

Under Heyneke Meyer, the scores were always close against the All Blacks – an average of less than seven points per game – and one of the reasons was that we often played two fetchers as well as Duane Vermeulen and Bismarck du Plessis. That meant we had four forwards who were very good over the ball.

This is vital because you need to disrupt New Zealand’s attacking shape, you need to force more of them into the rucks and not just let them play. The Springboks certainly missed Jaco Kriel in this regard, but his pace was also missed in defence. The openside flank is normally pillar number three and he leads the line-speed from just inside the flyhalf. Francois Louw has been recalled and it would be quite good if we could play two flanks that play towards the ball against New Zealand.

The Springboks scrummed well at the start, but like in the World Cup semi-final in 2015, we lost five lineouts. That’s a huge factor and it’s why they could not get any attack going. It’s something they have to sort out otherwise the backs are not able to function. It also leaves you very vulnerable because your backs are in attack formation on your own ball and not in their defensive formation, making it easy for the opposition to get over the advantage line on the turnover ball.

I watched the game with Frans Ludeke and he made a good point when he said it is not a lost cause now in the last two games of the Rugby Championship at home. He pointed out that our SuperRugby teams conceded big scores in New Zealand, but won against the Kiwi sides in South Africa. So we should not write off the Springboks just yet, we can only really judge them at the end of the Rugby Championship, but they are obviously playing for second place now.

It’s very hard playing three matches on the trot away from home, especially with the best side in the world being the last game, which is one of the reasons that in the last six years of the Rugby Championship the title race has been over before the final round.

One encouraging thing is that they did not fall away in the last 15 minutes and the All Blacks really had to work hard for their tries in the final quarter.

Before contemplating changes, we must remember that South Africa were the only unbeaten side in world rugby this year going into the game.

But there may have been a case for someone like Ruan Combrinck to come in. He has operated within the Lions’ exit system, he will be a right-footed option to back up the left feet of Andries Coetzee, who has been solid, kicked well and been good with ball in hand, and Elton Jantjies and he also brings a certain magic. He’s currently playing inside centre in Japan for Kotetsu, but he should obviously have been an option because he played well last year for the Springboks and showed he can make a difference in Tests.

Reasons for optimism for the Springboks for their next game against the All Blacks are that Australia have also managed to play better since they were 40-6 down at halftime against New Zealand and both the Stormers and Lions won against Kiwi teams in South Africa.

The Lions beat the Hurricanes convincingly and pushed the Crusaders all the way, so it is very difficult for the New Zealand players playing in South Africa as well. Plus they will be up against a very passionate crowd at Newlands and a Springbok team that will be on a mission.

 

 

 

John McFarland is the assistant coach of the Kubota Spears in Japan and was the Springbok defence coach from 2012 through to the 2015 World Cup, where they conceded the least line-breaks in the tournament and an average of just one try per game. Before that, McFarland won three SuperRugby titles (2007, 09, 10) with the Bulls and five Currie Cup crowns with the Blue Bulls. In all, he won 28 trophies during his 12 years at Loftus Versfeld.

 

 

Woods chasing records while Grace & Coetzee make debuts 0

Posted on August 15, 2017 by Ken

 

While the revitalised Tiger Woods is favoured to close to within three of Jack Nicklaus’s record 18 major titles when the Masters gets underway this evening, Branden Grace and George Coetzee will make their debuts at Augusta, lifting South Africa’s representation in one of golf’s most hallowed events to an all-time high of eight.

The pair will join compatriots Tim Clark, Louis Oosthuizen, Ernie Els, Charl Schwartzel, Richard Sterne and Trevor Immelman in an event that has seen five South African triumphs – Gary Player in 1961, 74 and 78; Immelman in 2008 and Schwartzel in 2011.

The last player to win on his Masters debut was Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 and, although Oosthuizen was edged into second by Bubba Watson in a playoff last year and Els is the reigning British Open champion, the spotlight has been elsewhere.

Woods, who has risen like the phoenix back to number one in the world, is the clear favourite, bringing both great form – three wins in his last five starts – and tremendous pedigree, having four previous Masters titles, to the tournament.

Even Nicklaus backs Woods to kick-start his quest for 19 major titles again.

“If Tiger doesn’t figure it out here, after the spring he’s had, then I don’t know. I’ve said, and I continue to say it, that I still expect him to break my record. I think he’s just too talented, too driven and too focused on that. From this point, he’s got to win five majors, which is a pretty good career for most people to start at age 37. But I still think he’s going to do it, he’s in contention every year,” Nicklaus said.

The other contenders are Rory McIlroy, who returned to form with a second-place finish in last weekend’s Texas Open, three-time champion Phil Mickelson and, if you believe the British press, perennial favourite Ian Poulter, even though the Ryder Cup star is battling allergies as practically everything is blooming at Augusta at the moment.

This year’s Masters will also see the emergence of a stunning new talent who could not only be the successor to Woods but also the precursor to the Chinese dominance of the game many have predicted.

The 14-year-old Guan Tianlang will smash Matteo Mannesero’s record of being the youngest golfer to play in the Masters by two years and the youngster has impressed all and sundry in the build-up to the Major.

The son of a keen seven-handicap golfer, who knew his boy was something special when he beat him aged seven, Guan qualified for the Masters by winning the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championships in November.

Woods and two-time champion Tom Watson were among the legends he played practice rounds with, and both came away with the impression they were in the presence of future greatness.

“I enjoyed playing with Guan, he has good tempo, his rhythm is very good. Once he grows a little bit, he will be able to get the club faster. He will use a different swing plane when he gets taller and stronger,” Watson said.

“He’s so consistent,” said Woods. “He was hitting a lot of hybrids into the holes yesterday, hitting them spot-on, right on the numbers. He knew what he was doing, he knew the spots he had to land the ball and to be able to pull it off. Good scouting, good prep, but also even better execution.”

The importance of course knowledge is magnified at Augusta, where the slopes on the fairways and greens are far steeper than the television coverage portrays. It really is the thinking man’s golf course.

“There isn’t a single hole out there that can’t be birdied if you just think, but there isn’t one that can’t be double-bogeyed if you ever stop thinking,” was the famous quote of Bobby Jones, the Masters co-founder and winner of seven Majors as an amateur.

The veteran Els gave the rookie Grace some words of advice before the tournament and he used the Jones quote.

“Overall I’d say it’s a tough golf course to learn in a hurry. I’m sure this will be the first of many visits to Augusta in your [Grace’s] career, so try to enjoy it and soak it all up. There are certain ‘crunch shots’ at Augusta where the tariff is very high and from one to 18 there is no other course where the margins between a birdie and a bogey are so small. You have to commit to your shots and be aggressive to your spots, even if that’s 25-feet right of the pin.

“You’ll know already that the slopes are more severe than they appear on television, so you hit a lot of iron shots from sloping lies and you’ve got the big elevation changes coming into some of those greens. The wind can switch around, especially in Amen Corner.

“The short game is the biggest thing at Augusta, though. The grass around the greens is mowed very tight and against the direction of play, so you have to be very precise with your strike. Obviously the speed and the slope of the greens get your attention, as well. Other than that, it’s really pretty straightforward!”

In Grace’s case, his short game, especially his lob-wedge, is impressive, but what is also relevant is that he is comfortable playing a high draw, which Augusta favours.

Apart from the advice from Els, Grace has also played a practice round with no less of an authority on Augusta than Player.

“I’m hitting the ball like I did in January again and I’m ready. Excitement will take care of the rest. It’s an experience I’ve never had before, Augusta and the Green Jacket is the most special of them all because of the history and South Africans having done well in the Masters in the past.

“I’ve been given some great insights in the practice rounds and everyone has just tried to help George and I as much as possible. Obviously I was disappointed to miss the cut in my last Major, but there was a little bit of extra pressure then because I had come in from nowhere really.

“Now I’m not worried that I have to go out and play well, I’m not worried about what people think because I’m number 32 in the world and I can just go out and enjoy myself. I’m in a good place,” Grace said.

Whatever the result, many would say he is in the best place of all for a golfer: beautiful Augusta in the springtime.

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-04-11-masters-preview-tiger-tiger-burning-bright/#.WZLvBlUjHIU

Michaelhouse & College lift KZN spirits with unbeaten records 0

Posted on June 02, 2016 by Ken

 

It’s not all bad news for KwaZulu-Natal rugby at the moment with Michaelhouse and Maritzburg College emerging unbeaten from the St Stithians Easter Festival on Monday, joining Wynberg Boys’ High School as the only teams with a perfect three-from-three record.

Grey High from Port Elizabeth were also highly impressive at the festival and, although Maritzburg College pipped them 20-16 on the opening day, they ended their long weekend on a high with a brilliant 41-0 victory over Pretoria Boys’ High School. They have some quality players and one can expect to see the names of fullback Curwin Bosch, eighthman Kwezi Mafu and lock Kamva Dilima in the papers moving forward.

Michaelhouse were given their stiffest test by a plucky Windhoek High School side, but their ability to get quick ruck ball and the attacking skills of their players saw them run out 40-19 winners. Flyhalf Bader Pretorius scored 15 of their points and was impressive in marshalling his backline.

The Maritzburg College backline and the metronomic boot of fullback Ruben van Blerk were the main agents of destruction as they hammered the Schoonspruit Invitation XV from the Western Cape 78-0, right wing Kudzaishe Munangi scoring a first-half hat-trick and the other wing, Xolisa Guma, adding two tries.

Pretoria Boys’ High endured a disappointing festival, also losing to Wynberg on the first day, and they did not have the belief or consistency of skills to challenge Grey High in the third game on Monday.

Wynberg looked a tightly-knit, spirited unit as, led by inspirational scrumhalf Labib Kannemeyer, they overwhelmed St Alban’s 53-0.

Hosts St Stithians were forced to play second-fiddle at their own festival as, following their 51-3 thrashing at the hands of Michaelhouse on the second day, they surrendered a 24-7 lead and lost 29-24 to another KZN school, Clifton College, on Monday.

Helpmekaar finally enjoyed that winning feeling on Monday when they edged out St Andrew’s 29-28, fullback Chuiner van Rooyen scoring a dazzling solo try that was the difference between the teams in the end.

Results

Day Three – Michaelhouse 40 Windhoek HS 19; Maritzburg College 78 Schoonspruit Invitation 0; Grey High 41 Pretoria BHS 0; Wynberg BHS 53 St Alban’s 0; Clifton College 29 St Stithians 24; Helpmekaar 29 St Andrew’s 28.

Day Two – Pretoria BHS 22 Windhoek HS 12; Maritzburg College 34 St Alban’s 16; Clifton College 54 Schoonspruit Invitation 12; Wynberg BHS 36 St Andrew’s 12; Grey High 31 Helpmekaar 13; Michaelhouse 51 St Stithians 3.

Day One – St Andrew’s 31 St Alban’s 12; Wynberg BHS 24 Pretoria BHS 17; Windhoek HS 26 Clifton College 19; St Stithians 36 Schoonspruit Invitation 5; Michaelhouse 52 Helpmekaar 19; Maritzburg College 20 Grey High 16.

Black cricket in Titans area dates back to 19th century 0

Posted on January 01, 2015 by Ken

Black cricket was already being played in the Titans’ catchment area of Northerns and Easterns in the 19th century, with a record of a match between the Elandsfontein Diggers from Germiston and Doornfontein in 1898.

In 1932, Brakpan and Sub Nigel were playing in the first league for the Mangena Cup, while Brakpan East were in the second division. By 1937 there were more than 50 black clubs in the area between Randfontein and Nigel and the Transvaal Coloured Cricket Union featured a team from Pretoria – Brotherly United – as one of the six affiliates that competed for the Shahabodien Cup.

The 1940s saw the formation of the North-Eastern Transvaal African Board and they won the Transvaal Inter-Race Trophy in 1952/53 as well as their interprovincial tournament in 1953/54 and 1954/55. By then the North-Eastern Transvaal Bantu Cricket Union, the Eastern Transvaal Indian and Coloured Cricket Association, the Eastern Transvaal Indian Cricket Union and the Northern Transvaal Indian Cricket Union were all playing under the auspices of the Johannesburg Inter-Race Board.

If there was one person who epitomised the strength of black cricket in those days, it was Julius ‘Genius’ Mahanjana of North-Eastern Transvaal, who captained the national African team from 1955-1958. Born in Middledrift, in the heartland of Black African cricket in the Eastern Cape, he grew up at Modder B in Benoni, where his father worked. Julius excelled in all sports and his brothers Justin and Japhta also played for the national team.

The name Mahanjana actually entered into the local cricketing lexicon thanks to Japhtha ‘Super’ Mahanjana, who salvaged a famous draw for Natal against his brother Julius’s North-Eastern Transvaal side in the IPT in December 1956 in Port Elizabeth. Natal were set 245 to win in four hours, but a draw would deny North-Eastern Transvaal a place in the final and ‘Super’ Mahanjana opened the batting and batted through to secure the draw. He usually used to change to a long-handled bat once he was set at the crease, but on that occasion he stuck with the short handle to sum up his defiant mood. The saying Yi draw Mahanjana,“It is a Mahanjana draw”, comes from that day.

Their star contemporaries were batsman Eric Fihla and the fast bowling pair of Gidi and Mashinqana.

But the oppression of Apartheid and forced removals was starting to gather momentum and black cricket became isolated and fragmented. Places such as Hammanskraal, Mamelodi, Marabastad, Atteridgeville, Soshanguve and Eersterus would become the homes of the game in the black community.

The end of Apartheid and the unity process would bring cricketers from all those places back into the fold and the likes of Nqaba Matoti, Ernest Mokoenenyane and the Mokonyamas were the trailblazers who appeared in provincial cricket for Northerns in the 1990s.

 



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