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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.

 

Keeping it simple pays off for struggling De Kock 0

Posted on October 22, 2015 by Ken

 

Uitenhage Golf Club’s Allister de Kock hopes that keeping it simple at the Africa Open will pay off and the approach certainly worked in an encouraging first round for the struggling pro.

De Kock spent most of the first day in the Sunshine Tour/European Tour co-sanctioned event at East London Golf Club inside the top-20 on the leaderboard after a solid one-under-par 71 in tricky, windy conditions.

“I just need to focus on what I have to do, I know my strong points and keeping the ball in play is one of those, which is what you have to do on this course,” De Kock said after his round.

De Kock, starting on the ninth hole, began solidly with two pars, but then dropped a shot at the par-four 12th, a tough hole with sharp elevation changes.

He immediately gained the shot back though with a birdie on the 13th, but then dropped again on the par-four 14th.

But the 31-year-old then found his feet and parred his way to the turn and then picked up three birdies on the front nine, with just a bogey on the par-four fourth to set him back.

“It wasn’t easy today but I’m happy with 71 in the wind. I had a few drops because of my putter, but then I sank a few putts to give me some momentum. I learnt from the other guys in my three-ball, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Le Roux Ferreira, hitting the low balls, so I started hitting lower too,” De Kock said.

De Kock is in his fourth year on the Sunshine Tour, but has made the cut in just two of 32 events, so if he can build on his good start in the Africa Open then it could be a stunning boost to his career and bank balance.

The reaction of his father, Frans, who is caddying for De Kock, after he sank his par-putt on the eighth hole (the end of the front nine at East London GC) made it clear what a good day it was for the former Eastern Province Amateur Matchplay champion.

“My dad is on the bag and he was very happy, you could see his expression when my round finished. He gave me a thumbs-up and a hug!” De Kock said.

Which just goes to prove how such great delight can come from such simple things.

 



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