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Ken Borland



A single miss costs the Sharks 0

Posted on February 27, 2017 by Ken

 

A single miss in an otherwise top-class kicking display by Pat Lambie cost the Sharks victory as they went down 26-28 to the Reds in their opening SuperRugby match in Brisbane on Friday.

Lambie missed a penalty three minutes from full-time that would have snatched a fortuitous victory, given that a Reds team that played with 14 men for 20 minutes outscored them by four tries to two.

With Lambie earlier kicking six-from-six, the Sharks enjoyed a 26-18 lead with 16 minutes remaining, but a poor finish to the game saw them concede two tries.

The Sharks made a great start with a try in the second minute when the Reds were throwing passes around and flyhalf Quade Cooper dropped the ball, outside centre Lukhanyo Am pounced and a quick interchange with wing Kobus van Wyk then put flank Jean-Luc du Preez away to storm over the tryline.

Lambie’s conversion made it 7-0, but the Sharks were unable to threaten the Reds’ tryline again in the first half, largely because they had to make do with a tiny proportion of possession, their failure to hang on to the ball for long periods meaning they had to do most of the defending.

Cooper and Lambie traded two penalties each to make the score 13-6 at the half-hour, but Van Wyk then turned village idiot and tried to take a quick lineout inside his own 22, an isolated Curwin Bosch conceding a scrum. The Reds forwards drove strongly and eighthman Scott Higginbotham dotted down through the pile of bodies for the home side’s opening try, Cooper’s conversion levelling the scores at 13-13.

Lambie snuck a penalty in the last-minute of the first half, thanks to lock Ruan Botha twice putting great pressure on Reds scrumhalf Nick Frisby, for the Sharks to lead 16-13 at the break, and the visitors showed hitherto unseen control in the opening exchanges of the second half, dominating territory and hanging on to the ball much better.

Lambie succeeded with a 43rd-minute penalty to stretch the lead to 19-13, but Queensland centre Samu Kerevi struck back with the first of his two tries six minutes later.

Running with great power and awareness, he burst through a gap between scrumhalf Cobus Reinach and Am, to score after the Reds chose a scrum under the shadow of the poles instead of a kick at goal. Cooper failed with an easy conversion attempt, which allowed the Sharks to hang on to a slender one-point lead.

With referee Nick Briant suddenly remembering that there is no tolerance for neck-tackles this season, Reds lock Kane Douglas was yellow-carded for pulling at Beast Mtawarira’s neck in the 57th minute.

With a lot of the Reds muscle gone, the Sharks understandably went for rolling mauls when awarded penalties, but there was no accuracy in their first couple of attempts, but eventually eighthman Tera Mtembu rumbled over in the 61st minute after the Queenslanders disintegrated.

Lambie converted for a 26-18 lead, but they were to score no further points as they seemed to lack a clear plan in the final quarter.

Kerevi is a particular threat in this Reds side and he muscled over from close range again in the 64th minute, but the killer blow was landed by his midfield partner Duncan Paia’aua, who ran an excellent line back inside, cutting straight through before replacement scrumhalf James Tuttle finished strongly.

The result was a sharp reminder to the Sharks of the accuracy that is required to win overseas – they simply made too many errors in discipline and decision-making, although a losing bonus point was some reward for the competitiveness they showed.

Mtawarira was full of energy in the front row, Du Preez was a force with ball-in-hand and Am was exciting at times in the backline, but the overall Sharks performance was not good enough to earn victory.

Scorers

RedsTries: Scott Higginbotham, Samu Kerevi (2), James Tuttle. Conversion: Quade Cooper. Penalties: Cooper (2).

SharksTries: Jean-Luc du Preez, Tera Mtembu. Conversions: Pat Lambie (2). Penalties: Lambie (4).

http://citizen.co.za/sport/sport-rugby/1438777/clumsy-sharks-fluff-their-lines-at-vital-moments/

Crusaders are inspired but no miracle comeback for Cheetahs 0

Posted on June 20, 2016 by Ken

 

Riaan Smit almost nailed a touchline conversion to complete a miraculous Cheetahs comeback against the Brumbies, but that Vodacom SuperRugby qualifying playoff was dwarfed in quality and importance by the inspired performance dished up by the Crusaders in hammering the Reds.

The only team probably celebrating the Cheetahs’ loss in Canberra more than the Brumbies will be the Bulls, because it means they will now host the Australians this weekend in Pretoria, instead of facing the Crusaders, whose current form suggests it would take a miracle to beat them.

They dismantled the Reds, the 2011 champions, 38-9 in Christchurch, scoring four tries to none, with ace flyhalf Dan Carter contributing 20 points.

“We were just outclassed. The Crusaders were exceptional and I am sure they will be very hard to beat in the finals,” Reds scrumhalf Will Genia admitted.

Carter showed that he was back to his best ahead of the Rugby Championship, controlling the Crusaders game plan superbly and constantly probing the Reds defence as he took the ball to the line.

In contrast, much-hyped Reds flyhalf Quade Cooper was anonymous. Although he was impaired by the back-foot ball his forwards gave him, the fancy tricks his fans are so fond of look great but unless they’re produced on the gain-line and actually put other players into space, they are irrelevant. His critics will be able to point to what influence he actually has on the game.

An impressive start to the match saw the Crusaders take the ball through 15 phases and win an early penalty, and the display of precision led to an understandable nervousness amongst the Reds. That led to an abundance of basic errors by the visitors and then to a definite sense of panic.

An amazing exhibition of running lines and support play by the Crusaders – both forwards and backs – then exploited the holes in a retreating, disorganised defence.

The Crusaders pack was like an armoured vehicle ploughing through the Reds, such was their cohesion and the sheer ferocity they brought to the collisions and breakdowns.

The Crusaders also had the security of knowing that the Reds were really struggling to make any inroads against a steely defence that conceded just four line-breaks, allowed just four offloads and had a 92% tackling success rate.

In contrast, the Crusaders enjoyed making 15 line-breaks and 22 offloads.

If the Crusaders were an armoured vehicle, then the Cheetahs and Brumbies looked like milk delivery vans instead.

The Brumbies eventually won a messy, scrappy encounter 15-13 but the game never rose to any great heights.

The Cheetahs, playing in their first SuperRugby knockout game, seemed to freeze in a chilly Canberra and a host of errors meant they did not obtain any attacking momentum until the final quarter, by when they had left it too late.

Dropping the kickoff and then seeing star eighthman Philip van der Walt go down with a knee injury (he stayed on but was clearly hampered by it) and conceding a penalty all in the first minute made for a nervous start for the Cheetahs.

The game was there for the seizing by the Brumbies, but they were also unimpressive, wasting the possession and territorial advantage they had and only managing to score two penalties in the first half, with Christian Lealiifano missing another two shots badly.

There was one bright moment for the Cheetahs, however, with outside centre Johann Sadie crossing for a try after wing Raymond Rhule had burst through in midfield. There had been a forward pass from Willie le Roux in the build-up, but it was still a try of vision and clinical finishing.

There was little else in terms of attacking spark though from the Cheetahs. Scrumhalf Piet van Zyl was having an off-day and flyhalf Riaan Smit was not able to stamp his presence on the game either.

But then the platform given to the half-backs was not great either. The scrum was not the area of dominance for the Cheetahs it was expected to be and the apparent lack of homework done on the Brumbies scrum was disappointing.

Loosehead prop Coenie Oosthuizen was a pale shadow of the man who has buckled tightheads, carried the ball strongly and put in crunching tackles this season and there was no one in the starting line-up able to ignite the Cheetahs on the biggest day of their history as a franchise.

Until Van Zyl, having had no impact for an hour, was eventually replaced by Sarel Pretorius and no sooner had the livewire substitute scrumhalf come on than the Cheetahs suddenly roared into life.

They finally backed themselves with ball in hand and scored their second try when the inspired Pretorius threw a great pass out wide to replacement wing Rayno Benjamin, who knifed over in the corner.

Smit’s conversion attempt from the touchline to send the game into extra time looked a beauty, but it kept swinging until it passed outside the left upright by no more than a foot.

It was an agonising ending to the game for the Cheetahs, but the result was no more than they deserved after producing one of their worst performances of an otherwise wonderful season.

http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-07-22-superrugby-what-the-heck-happened-to-the-cheetahs/#.V2fZhvl97IU

Tricky selection for Ludeke as star players wait in the aisles 0

Posted on June 09, 2016 by Ken

 

Coach Frans Ludeke faces a tricky selection this week as several star players are waiting in the aisles as the Vodacom Bulls look to back up their impressive win over the Reds with a crucial triumph over the Sharks in Durban on Saturday.

Springboks Adriaan Strauss, Jan Serfontein, Handre Pollard and Akona Ndungane are all available for selection again, while flank Lappies Labuschagne, one of the Bulls’ best players in the opening weeks of the competition, has recovered from a shoulder injury that saw him miss the last three matches.

Hooker Strauss and flyhalf Pollard should certainly start against the Sharks, but the fine form of Burger Odendaal at inside centre means Ludeke should perhaps consider playing Serfontein in the number 13 jersey he wears for the Springboks.

Labuschagne will probably return off the bench, with the highly-talented Arno Botha match-fit and ready to continue in the number seven jersey.

With the back three of Jesse Kriel, Francois Hougaard and Bjorn Basson performing so well in recent weeks, Ndungane is unlikely to break into the starting XV after recovering from a broken hand. He will even struggle to get on to the bench because Jurgen Visser pretty much provides specialist fullback cover for Kriel, unless Ludeke creates a space by leaving out Piet van Zyl and uses Hougaard as the reserve scrumhalf.

The Sharks are currently in a hole but the possible return of Jannie du Plessis, Beast Mtawarira and Co could continue the revival in spirit that was seen against the Lions at Ellis Park at the weekend, but in terms of confidence, the Bulls are probably going to Durban at the best time.

Ludeke’s men are leading the chase for the South African SuperRugby Conference title and victory over the Sharks could eliminate the KwaZulu-Natalians from contention, with the Bulls at least six points ahead with a game in hand.

The following weekend the Bulls travel to Cape Town to take on the Stormers followed by a crunch local derby against the Lions at Loftus Versfeld and then their overseas tour. So the next three weeks are absolutely vital for the three-time champions as they look to gather as many points as possible.

 

 

 

Bulls give Reds another Loftus hiding 0

Posted on June 08, 2016 by Ken

The Reds must be heartily sick of the view from behind the Loftus Versfeld goalposts as they succumbed to another heavy defeat there at the hands of the Vodacom Bulls on Saturday night, conceding six tries in a 43-22 defeat.

It was the Reds’ sixth successive loss in Pretoria and they have now conceded exactly 300 points in those games.

The Bulls are now top of the SuperRugby South African Conference, two points ahead of the Stormers, three points ahead of the Lions and four in front of the Sharks, with a game in hand over both of those last two sides, so they must be heading towards their overseas tour with confidence building.

Fullback Jesse Kriel must be in contention as a World Cup bolter later this year, featuring strongly in the tournament rankings for defenders beaten, carries and metres gained, and he was outstanding in all facets of his game on Saturday night, attacking with vigour from the back, kicking well and defending stoutly.

It was Kriel who set the Bulls on their way in the eighth minute as, following a Jacques-Louis Potgieter penalty four minutes earlier, he sped away from his own 22 after gathering an attempted grubber that had been deflected by wing Francois Hougaard.

Kriel ran all the way to the Reds’ 22 before passing inside to Hougaard, who had enough strength to carry a tackler over the line for the opening try.

The first half was dominated by the Bulls’ successful tactic of bombarding the Reds with high kicks, but it was nevertheless exciting viewing and the second half opened up into a try bonanza.

The Reds deserve to be included in any praise for the spectacle as they played with plenty of ambition, especially in the second half, and they showed their intent with their fine opening try in the 16th minute.

Flyhalf Nick Frisby attacked the line, chipped over and then re-gathered, before sending a long pass out to wing Lachie Turner to race away and score.

But aerial warfare was the name of the game for the Bulls in the first half and they quickly replied with their second try, eighthman Pierre Spies storming on to the ball after Turner had failed to gather a Kriel kick, the Bulls captain roaring over from 30 metres out.

The Reds actually had more possession than the Bulls in the first half, but the home side put in some tremendous hits as their aggressive defence continually pushed the Queenslanders back. Five minutes before the break, Hougaard stole the ball from prop James Slipper and was off for a 60-metre try that gave the Bulls a commanding 24-5 halftime lead.

The home side went into their shells a bit at the start of the second half and the Reds never hid their belief they could get back into the contest. And they did just that with two tries in three minutes closing the gap to 24-17.

Scrumhalf Will Genia was the spark as he scampered over from 20 metres out with a lovely run off a scrum and then placed a lovely dab through with the boot for Frisby to dash on to and score. The Reds had been put on attack by a powerful run by outside centre Samu Kerevi, and the 21-year-old Fijian then set up the visitors’ bonus-point try in the 59th minute with a breathtaking burst from his own 10-metre line. He powered on to a pop pass and then through half-a-dozen defenders before being stopped by Kriel just short of the line, replacement lock Marco Kotze being on hand to pick up and score.

But by then the Bulls had secured their own bonus-point try, replacement prop Marcel van der Merwe driving strongly off a rolling maul to score, eighthman Adam Thomson having just been yellow-carded for collapsing the previous maul.

It was a telling moment and, despite Kerevi’s magic, the Reds faded away at the end and conceded two more tries.

First Burger Odendaal produced an exceptional run from 30 metres out to power over the line and then another exciting run by Hougaard was stopped just short of the line, replacement scrumhalf Piet van Zyl then throwing a dummy and ducking over to score.

If Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has a natter with Frans Ludeke over the phone on Sunday then the Bulls coach can report back on a strong showing by Hougaard on the wing, another fine performance from tighthead prop Trevor Nyakane, and the continued growth of an exciting talent in Kriel.

But it was also pleasing to see loosehead prop Dean Greyling put in a number of massive hits and Spies did numerous good things around the park.

Scorers

Bulls – Tries: Francois Hougaard (2), Pierre Spies, Marcel van der Merwe, Burger Odendaal, Piet van Zyl. Conversions: Jacques-Louis Potgieter (3), Tian Schoeman (2). Penalty: Potgieter.

Reds – Tries: Lachie Turner, Will Genia, Nick Frisby, Marco Kotze. Conversion: Turner.

http://citizen.co.za/361081/bulls-give-reds-another-loftus-hiding/



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