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Ken Borland



A simple calculation for WP: Forward might is right 0

Posted on October 28, 2017 by Ken

 

It may not be a straightforward calculation to measure the exact amount of momentum Western Province gained from their pack in the Currie Cup final against the Sharks in Durban on Saturday, but it was simple as anything to work out that it was the visiting forwards who played the key role in their convincing 33-21 victory.

At practically every scrum, the Sharks were going backwards, and even on the one occasion they got the shove on Western Province, it still ended in a try for the visitors as eighthman Nizaam Carr broke blind and set up fellow loose forward Cobus Wiese for the try.

Western Province were also dominant on the gain-line, meeting a Sharks pack, that has powered through most other opposition this season, head-on in a brutal battle.

Western Province flyhalf Robert du Preez was a composed general behind this juggernaut pack, while opposite number Curwin Bosch lost his cool, being exposed defensively and only succeeding with 50% of his kicks at goal.

It took a while for the Western Province ace to be reflected on the scoreboard though, with the Sharks thriving in the first half as they capitalised on soft mistakes by the visitors to run up a 21-10 lead that lasted until the final moments before the break.

The Sharks were tied down in their 22 as the final hooter went and, even though Carr was held up over the line by Garth April, a five-metre scrum resulted in concerted pressure, and eventually wing Kobus van Wyk rushed out of the defensive line, allowing opposite number Dillyn Leyds to go over in the corner.

From that point on, the Sharks were on the back foot; pushed back on the gain-line, unable to get their hands on the ball and condemned to playing in the wrong areas of the field by the tactical nous of on-song flyhalf Robert du Preez.

Wiese’s 51st-minute try brought Western Province practically back on level terms and they took the lead for the first and final time when Bosch went high on wing Seabela Senatla, who brushed him off and was able to offload to centre Huw Jones, who skipped past a few defenders on his way to the tryline.

Western Province then relied on the boot of Du Preez to close out the game and they can justifiably feel proud by how they finished the season as thoroughly convincing champions, having been underwhelming in the opening half of the competition.

No team can expect to win a final with their pack being so badly beaten, but the Sharks certainly made a good fist of it for the first 35 minutes.

Despite being shoved off the ball in the opening scrum to concede a tighthead, it all started so positively for the Sharks with centre Marius Louw slicing through the Western Province defence like a can-opener to set up Odwa Ndungane, in his 251st and last game for the Sharks, with a dream try.

But glory can turn into humiliation very quickly in finals and Jones then stepped inside an on-rushing Ndungane for Western Province’s opening try just four minutes later. The Sharks will be more disappointed that they conceded a five-metre scrum, from which the try came, through players just being in the wrong place at the wrong time at a ruck, resulting in accidental offsides.

Eighthman Daniel du Preez then muscled his way over in the 18th minute, but it would end up as a bad day for the twins as Jean-Luc had to be helped off the field moments later with an ankle injury, and Daniel would be yellow-carded late in the second half for tackling a player off the ball.

Having their most physical forward excluded from the gain-line battle certainly didn’t help the Sharks, but to be fair, Western Province were already dominating the scrums and had kept Jean-Luc in check up until his departure.

The home crowd would have hoped the phenomenal long-range drop goal Bosch fired over off a retreating scrum would mean the youngster was settling into the game, but unfortunately the pressure was inexorably transferred on to him and the Springbok hopeful did not handle it well.

The game-management of Robert du Preez was outstanding, though, and the other chief heroes for Western Province in a fine all-round display were Wilco Louw, the player of the match for the way he provided the foundation for the huge scrummaging display that laid the platform for victory; Jones, the Scotsman who brought tremendous physical presence and great feet to the midfield, and Carr, the workhorse of the team.

The Western Province front row, with Bongi Mbonambi and JC Janse van Rensburg providing powerful support to Louw, is where the victory had its starting point though.

 

Jantjies able replacement for Lambie & Pollard – Gold 0

Posted on April 14, 2016 by Ken

 

Sharks coach Gary Gold believes that the Springboks have a ready-made replacement in Elton Jantjies for the injured flyhalf duo of Pat Lambie and Handre Pollard following his pivotal role in the Lions’ convincing 24-9 victory in their SuperRugby match in Durban at the weekend.

“Sometimes we mustn’t be afraid to say that we lost to a better team. The Lions defended very well, they kept us out despite wave after wave of attack and I thought Elton Jantjies was outstanding, he controlled the game very well.

“Elton is more than deserving of the Springbok flyhalf position. Pat Lambie and Handre Pollard are both out, which is not great for South African rugby, but there’s no way Elton would let you down. He’s cool, calm and composed and kicks his goals well. I think he’s outstanding,” Gold said.

With the Sharks being tryless, questions were once again asked about the attacking ambition of the team, but Gold said his side have played with intent.

“The game plan is okay, but we must just execute better. The guys came out and showed intent and I was proud of that. If we had taken that opportunity in the first five minutes, after a really good wave of attack, then who knows what might have happened?

“Sometimes we were attacking from the wrong areas and the penalty count against us was very high, which makes it very difficult. We looked quite good through the phases, especially off the lineout, but we were not able to launch off the scrum, where the Lions kept getting the ascendancy. The back three are getting enough ball, but whether it’s in the right areas is another story and we don’t do enough with it,” Gold said.

The director of rugby confirmed that flank Marcell Coetzee, who has been in brilliant form, has been ruled out of their tour to New Zealand due to a serious knee injury suffered against the Lions.

“We have certainly been written off before the tour, so it will be a great test of character. The guys will have to man up and take on the challenge, but it will be a fun challenge. We have got to right the wrongs of the last few weeks, but there have been many weeks of rights before that,” Gold said.

A dream come true for Morkel … & a timely reminder for pigeon-holers 0

Posted on August 13, 2015 by Ken

 

Albie Morkel’s top-class century to win the Momentum One-Day Cup final for the Unlimited Titans was not only a dream come true for the all-rounder but also a strong reminder to coaches that being a brilliant finisher does not mean a batsman should be consigned to a role only in the closing overs of a limited-overs match.

Morkel came to the crease in the final at Newlands with the Titans in trouble on 60 for four chasing 286, but he and Dean Elgar, who also scored a century, shared a record-breaking partnership of 195 off 189 balls to set up a phenomenal victory which the veteran finished off in style with a magnificent 134 not out off 103 balls.

“It was a big day in my life, I was quite emotional but I kept it deep inside on the field. Coach Rob Walter and I had discussed at the start of the season what’s left for me in my career and I reset my goals. One of them was to score a 50-over century and another was to be man of the match in a final.

“Batting at six or seven, you don’t often get the opportunity to score a hundred, it has to be quick, but to do it in a final and to be man of the match, both of them together was really special, a dream come true. I scratched around a bit at the beginning, but then something clicked and I just seemed to be in the zone, my senses all became so clear and I was seeing the ball really well,” Morkel told The Citizen on Monday.

The left-hander’s innings was similar to that of David Miller’s in South Africa’s World Cup opener against Zimbabwe and Morkel said he hoped these performances helped convince coaches to give so-called power-hitters a greater piece of the action.

“With the new batting powerplay and only four fielders allowed out at the end, coaches tend to keep key batsmen back for that but I’ve never understood it because as a batsman you like to get in and you need the opportunity to do that. Your success rate drops when you have less time at the crease and David Miller showed what can be done when you give a batsman enough time and don’t keep him back.

“Both David and I came in in a situation where the team was in big trouble, but it gives you the luxury to just go in and bat. I knew I must just not get out, I must be there at the end and then you can really cash in,” Morkel said.

The 33-year-old also showed the value of his experience in a Titans side full of youngsters and Morkel said he is determined to return the franchise to the heights of the mid-to-late 2000s, when they won seven domestic trophies.

“The Titans needed that win because we’ve had a seesaw season and it was even more important for the changeroom because obviously they will now believe they can win more trophies. I still want to play my best cricket, in the past I made the mistake of putting too much emphasis on getting into the national team. My focus now is on getting myself back to my best form and winning games for the Titans. That’s where the enjoyment comes, in that changeroom environment.

“At this stage, I’m playing the role of a senior, there are lots of young guys coming through and they need a lot of help. I often chat with David Wiese and the young bowlers,” Morkel said.

 

 

Nkumane says SA Conference is impossible to pick 0

Posted on July 16, 2015 by Ken

Former Springbok hooker Owen Nkumane is probably one of the better people to ask for SuperRugby tips because he spends much of his life snooping around the franchises in his role as a SuperSport analyst and commentator.

But even someone as knowledgeable as Nkumane believes tipping the winner – even of just the South African Conference – would require calling into service a crystal ball. Typically for a front-ranker, Nkumane has little time for things as flighty as guessing games and prefers to concentrate on the reality of the different franchises’ strengths and weaknesses.

And as a former Lions star, the 1998 UK tourist has most to say about his former team and is particularly interested to see whether they will employ the same brand of expansive rugby that took them to the Currie Cup final.

“I think it’s an exciting season for the Lions because they’ve got the money and the players now, so in a way there can be no excuses and that brings pressure. The element of surprise has gone and I think they’ll need to be a bit more structured and not try and force the issue with ball-in-hand. In a way they might have to be more conservative, they need to get the right balance in their play.

“They’ve got what it takes to break defences so they mustn’t chance it on attack. If they have a three-versus-two, they know how to convert it, whereas other teams will maybe try and force it,” Nkumane cautioned.

Another crucial factor in determining how successful the Lions are will be how coach Johan Ackermann uses flyhalves Marnitz Boshoff and Elton Jantjies.

“That’s going to be crucial and he needs to get the balance right there, like when it comes to running the ball or not. And conditioning and when to peak will also be vital. The Lions play for nine straight weeks and you don’t want the players hitting the wall in April and May. If you do too much now, then the guys will be gatvol in four weeks time,” Nkumane said.

The Bulls and Cheetahs were both major disappointments for Nkumane last season and he sees only one of those franchises having a chance this year.

“The Bulls lost games they should have won and couldn’t get any points away from home last year. But I think they are dark horses.

“The Cheetahs had a wonderful season in 2013 but didn’t come close to competing last year, and their defence is their Achilles heel,” Nkumane said.

The Sharks kissed their SuperRugby chances goodbye last year by not qualifying for a home semi-final and Nkumane says they have to see the season through to its completion and nail down top spot because they have the depth in the squad to do that.

Nkumane believes the Stormers will bring confidence from being Currie Cup champions to the Southern Hemisphere competition, but saying goodbye to long-serving coach Allister Coetzee, who is bound for Japan at the end of the campaign, might serve to motivate them even more.

“The Stormers have a good mix, but winning the Currie Cup does not guarantee success in SuperRugby. Fortunately they found out early about Allister Coetzee leaving and if they have a good start, then that might give them something to play for,” Nkumane said.

Looking to the overseas teams, Nkumane tipped the usual strongholds of the Crusaders, Blues, Reds, Waratahs, Brumbies and Chiefs to be most competitive.

http://citizen.co.za/324783/nkumane-talks-superrugby/



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