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Ken Borland

Failure to pitch a recipe for disaster for Boks 0

Posted on February 01, 2017 by Ken


Meeting a fired-up Argentina team on their home turf is never an easy prospect, regardless of what happened the previous week, so when the Springboks decided not to “pitch” physically for their Rugby Championship Test in Mendoza at the weekend, it was always going to be a recipe for disaster.

For whatever reason, the Springboks failed to match the intensity and physicality of the Pumas and for long periods it just looked as if they weren’t “up” for the game.

With Argentina attacking the collisions and breakdowns with tremendous ferocity, it meant the Springboks were always on the back foot and had little decent ball to actually launch the attacking side of their game, which had been so impressive the weekend before back in Johannesburg.

The Springboks eventually won the Test 22-17 with two late penalties by Morne Steyn, but it was hardly an authoritative performance. The massive physicality that had blown the Pumas away at the FNB Stadium and set up the record 73-13 victory a week earlier was as absent this weekend as the president of the South African Rugby Union.

The home side pressed forward from the outset and, after robbing scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar of possession at a ruck – he endured a torrid day as he was hassled throughout at the breakdowns – they scored the opening try through flank Juan Manuel Leguizamon after just two minutes.

It meant the Pumas’ prayers were answered in terms of getting their passionate crowd behind them and they enjoyed a 10-3 lead after 10 minutes as Felipe Contepomi and Steyn traded penalties.

Centre Contepomi was then partly to blame for the Springboks’ only try, in the 14th minute, as he failed with a clearance kick, gifting the ball to the Springbok backs. Willie le Roux – he didn’t have the best of games overall – then showed tremendous hands to put wing Bjorn Basson away for the try.

But the Springboks’ hopes were severely dented just before half-time when centre Marcelo Bosch crashed through to score Argentina’s second try.

The Pumas had generally tried to avoid lineouts – a Springbok strength – in the first half, but eventually they had one inside the 22, only the third of the match. From there, another direct attack with short pop passes led to Bosch powering over.

The Argentine loose forwards continued to rob and spoil the Springboks’ ball in the second half and their more direct approach with ball-in-hand also hurt the South Africans. But there is something almost naive about this Springbok side in that they sometimes give the impression that they expect the opposition to be placid, to allow them an easy stroll through a game. And so not enough numbers were committed to the breakdowns or the defence close-in and the Pumas were adept at exploiting the gap in the first channel from the ruck.

The Springboks were, frankly, being bullied and they even sought referee Steve Walsh’s attention, alleging eye-gouging and biting. Two Argentinean loose forwards, Leonardo Senatore and Pablo Matera, would later be cited for foul play, but the whistleman’s focus during the match seemed to be on all sorts of peripheral things rather than keeping the breakdown contest tidy and enforcing offsides lines.

The Pumas’ ill-discipline was eventually punished by Walsh, allowing Steyn to kick four second-half penalties that won the game.

Questions, though, will be asked over some of coach Heyneke Meyer’s decisions, such as leaving the struggling Pienaar on for the entire game or not giving the more physical Flip van der Merwe a longer run in the second row.

But it’s the failure of the Springboks to lift themselves – having spoken all week about how they expect the Pumas to bounce back ferociously – that is perhaps of most concern.

They will now travel to Australasia next weekend for their two Tests against the Wallabies and the All Blacks and they are not going to win those unless their pack rediscovers the fire they showed at the FNB Stadium.

The Springbok backline are not going to be able to win those Tests on their own; the forwards are going to have to do the gruntwork and lay the foundation.

Gladiators seal place in final v Tornados 0

Posted on September 18, 2014 by Ken

The Tornados will play the Global Gladiators in the final of the Northerns Bash T20 tournament tomorrow, regardless of what happens in the last two round-robin games today at SuperSport Park.

The Gladiators, who lost in the inaugural final in April against the Nashua Phantoms, sealed their place in the showpiece game with a five-wicket win over the Pirates yesterday, with the Tornados beating the Phantoms by the same margin.

The Phantoms were indebted to an unbroken stand of 88 in 11.2 overs between Roelof van der Merwe and Shaun von Berg for their total of 161 for four, but even that did not really challenge the powerful Tornados batting line-up, which completed victory in the 18th over.

Despite the loss of Aiden Markram in the first over, the Tornados’ run-chase was given the ideal start by Henry Davids and Theunis de Bruyn, who belted 65 for the second wicket off just 30 balls.

Davids fell for 34 off just 18 deliveries when he skied Niki Bouwer into the covers, but De Bruyn marched on to 51 off 31 balls before falling to off-spinner Eden Links.

David Bunn (23) also fell to Links in the 12th over, but the final 45 runs were knocked off with the minimum amount of fuss by Graeme van Buuren (19*) and Jacques Snyman (25*).

The Phantoms had won the toss and elected to bat, but three of the city’s finest young talents – Danie Rossouw, Blake Schraader and Henk Coetzee – all failed as they slipped to 45 for three. It was left to the far more streetwise Qaasim Adams to provide the bulk of the early run-scoring with his 29 off 19 balls, before the sharp work of Mangaliso Mosehle saw him stumped off the left-arm spin of Bunn.

The enigmatic batting style of Van der Merwe brought him a blazing 71 not out off 44 balls and, with the capable support of Von Berg (29*), he was able to post a competitive, but losing total.

Corbin Bosch, the son of former Test paceman Tertius, was the most impressive of the Tornados bowlers, taking one for 22 in his four overs.

In the morning game, Heinrich Klaasen slammed 54 not out off 37 balls, with Wian van Heerden contributing 32 off 23, to lift the Pirates to 138 for five, but it soon became obvious that they were short of runs as Gladiators opener Cobus Pienaar bashed 51 off 38 deliveries.

After Pienaar’s rapid start, Farhaan Behardien (34*) and Ruan Sadler (17*) were able to nudge the ball about on their way to completing victory with three balls to spare.

The Gladiators were given control by their impressive attack. New-ball bowlers Ethy Mbhalati (1-29) and Sammy Mofokeng (1-26) ran in hard and were disciplined, while left-arm spinner Ryan Houbert was again outstanding, taking two for 17 in his four overs, bringing his figures thus far in the competition to five for 39 in eight overs.

The spinners did well for the Pirates, considering the lack of runs on the board, with Tabraiz Shamsi briefly bringing the outcome into debate with two wickets in the 11th over and Ruben Claassen, the tall Tuks off-spinner, again shining with two for 21 in four overs.

In a quirk of the scheduling, the two finalists, the Tornados and Gladiators, will play each other today in a warm-up for tomorrow’s title-decider.

Scores in brief

Pirates 138-5 (Wian van Heerden 32, Heinrich Klaasen 54*; Ryan Houbert 2-17). Gladiators 141-5 (Cobus Pienaar 51, Farhaan Behardien 34*; Tabraiz Shamsi 2-18, Ruben Claassen 2-21). Gladiators won by five wickets.

Phantoms 161-4 (Qaasim Adams 29, Roelof van der Merwe 71*, Shaun von Berg 29*). Tornados 162-5 (Henry Davids 34, Theunis de Bruyn 51, David Bunn 23, Jacques Snyman 25*; Eden Links 2-26). Tornados won by five wickets.


Today: 10am Phantoms v Pirates; 1.30pm Gladiators v Tornados.

Tomorrow: 10am 3rd v 4th;  1.30pm Final.

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