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Ken Borland

Home semi secured, so Titans hub may rest 0

Posted on December 07, 2017 by Ken

Now that a RamSlam T20 Challenge home semi-final has been secured, Multiply Titans coach Mark Boucher has the luxury of resting some of his hub players as the runaway log-leaders complete the round-robin phase with two matches this week.

The Titans travel to Cape Town to play the WSB Cape Cobras on Friday, before finishing off against the Hollywoodbets Dolphins in Durban on Sunday. They will then host whoever scrapes into the playoffs in fourth spot in the first semi-final at SuperSport Park next Wednesday.

“Playing on Friday, Sunday and Wednesday could have an effect on the guys, but we’ve got great depth and we’ve earned the right to prepare for the semi-final as we see fit. So there’ll probably be some mixing and matching, we believe we’ve got the momentum and so we can prepare specifically for that semi-final,” said Boucher.

“If we play our best XI for these last two games then we basically just give ourselves one day’s preparation for the semi-final, so I certainly don’t have a problem giving other players an opportunity.

We have some awesome players who haven’t even played a game yet, they’re itching to get on the park, so that will ensure there’s no complacency.”

Boucher said playing at home in the semi-finals would give the players a ‘feel good’ factor, but otherwise it was not a huge advantage for his team.

“Obviously the guys enjoy playing at SuperSport Park and they’re very confident at home, but anything can happen in T20. All the teams have good players who can take the game away from you. So we will have to be on top of our game,” Boucher warned.

Fast bowler Morné Morkel will be available for selection this week, which will give Boucher an opportunity to rest any of his pacemen who may be carrying niggles. Dale Steyn will be playing close to home in the PPC Newlands clash against the Titans, but may well miss the trip to Durban, resting up so he can give it his all in the knockout games.

The Titans will also be happy that they came through their first real test in this season’s competition, beating the vkb Knights with just a ball to spare when all seemed lost in their double-header match in Port Elizabeth at the weekend, which will stand them in good stead should they be under pressure in the semi-finals.

“We always knew there would be a tight game along the way, but I don’t think we batted very well, there were some pretty soft shots by the top-order that got us into that situation. But the middle-order played very well and refused to give it away. Farhaan Behardien is in the form of his life and it was nice to be on top of a tight game before the semis,” concluded Boucher.


Bulls don’t have to worry about permutations against Griquas 0

Posted on November 11, 2014 by Ken

The Vodacom Blue Bulls go into the final round-robin match of the Absa Currie Cup Premier Division, against the GWK Griquas at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, without having to worry about all the permutations that so often confuse the issue at this stage of the season.

Thanks to collecting nine points in the last two weeks, against their main rivals for fourth place on the log – the Free State Cheetahs and the Pumas, the Bulls now just need to beat Griquas to assure themselves of a place in the semi-finals.

The clarity of the situation has also allowed coach Frans Ludeke to make six changes to the team, most of them rotational as they eye out the semi-finals.

Handre Pollard, the newest Springbok flyhalf sensation, will start off the bench on Saturday, a wise move giving the youngster the chance to catch his breath after a dizzying last week and reintegrate himself with the Bulls ahead of the knockout games. Ludeke said there is still a 5% chance that a niggling ankle problem will keep Pollard out, in which case Tian Schoeman will be the reserve flyhalf.

The scrum is one area where the Bulls have really shone in the latter stages of the Currie Cup, but Ludeke will nevertheless field an entirely new front row, with Springbok Marcel van der Merwe starting at tighthead, Bongi Mbonambi at hooker and Morne Mellet in the number one jersey. Callie Visagie and Springbok Werner Kruger will be on the bench.

The rotation continues at scrumhalf with Piet van Zyl starting ahead of Rudy Paige, but as the Bulls surely transit towards the semi-finals, there is one backline position where Ludeke is perhaps still unsure of who the first-choice should be.

Springbok Bjorn Basson starts on the left wing on Saturday in what will probably be his last chance to supplant Sampie Mastriet, who has made great strides in his game this season.

William Small-Smith will return in the number 13 jersey instead of JJ Engelbrecht, who has been stood down as a contracted Springbok – a ridiculous decision by SA Rugby that will not benefit anyone.

Engelbrecht has missed large swathes of the season due to injury and desperately needs to string some games together to rediscover his old form. Instead, he will be forced to sit on the sidelines until next year and will not be able to push for a place on the end-of-year tour.

“The presence of Marcel and Handre will give the team a big boost, they are quality players who produced a high standard in the Rugby Championship. The players working for each other will make us a dangerous team and you can see the team-work, the players complementing each other, and we’re getting momentum, playing off the front foot and scoring tries. But that will only happen if there’s work off the ball,” Ludeke said at Loftus Versfeld yesterday.

The coach will be hoping for a repeat of the display against the Pumas last weekend in Nelspruit, when the Bulls romped to a 37-6 victory.

“Last week against the Pumas was our most clinical performance and I feel like we will be peaking at the right time, which is vital. We need to be quick to spot the big moments because they swing momentum your way,” Ludeke said.

Bulls team – 15-Ulrich Beyers, 14-Akona Ndungane, 13-William Small-Smith, 12-Burger Odendaal, 11-Bjorn Basson, 10-Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9-Piet van Zyl, 8-Jono Ross, 7-Jacques du Plessis, 6-Deon Stegmann, 5-Grant Hattingh, 4-Paul Willemse, 3-Marcel van der Merwe, 2-Bongi Mbonambi, 1-Morne Mellet. Reserves: 16-Callie Visagie, 17-Werner Kruger, 18-Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 19-Wiaan Liebenberg, 20-Rudy Paige, 21-Handre Pollard, 22-Jesse Kriel.


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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