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Ken Borland



Bulls are more mature & more confident – flyhalf Schoeman 0

Posted on October 14, 2016 by Ken

 

Blue Bulls flyhalf Tian Schoeman says he is going into Saturday’s Currie Cup semi-final against Western Province way more confident than last year, especially since he has a more mature pack in front of him now.

Last year the young Bulls side were beaten 23-18 by underdogs Western Province, who used a more experienced pack to exert pressure in the set-pieces and forward exchanges and won the territory battle, but this weekend the home side are a more accomplished side with a big pack that has excelled in the scrums and lineouts in recent matches.

“I’ve got two Currie Cups behind me now and a bit of Super Rugby, so I’m more confident. I was quite stressed out this time last year and we didn’t know what to expect, especially in a semi-final. So I’m definitely a bit calmer now although there are of course still some nerves,” Schoeman told The Citizen on Wednesday.

“I’m also a lot more relaxed because it’s lekker to play with a dominant pack in front of you. Our forwards have really stepped up and in the last few games the set-pieces have been very good. We’ve been getting a lot of results from the scrums with pushover tries and the lineouts have been very good as well. That’s going to be very important for the semi-final because you need the set-piece to attack from.”

The Bulls scored four more tries than Western Province during the league phase of the competition and have focused on a more ball-in-hand, high-intensity approach than in previous years. Nobody is more important than the flyhalf in driving the game plan and Schoeman said they will stick to what has served them well in the competition thus far.

“We’ve decided not to change anything, we’re going to stick to what we’ve been trying to do. It’s a bit more running rugby and maybe a bit more risky, but we don’t want to give Western Province the opportunity to play. So we’re only going to kick when in trouble, but those exits need to be accurate because you don’t want to give the other team opportunities,” Schoeman said.

 

New captain misses out but SA women producing more depth 0

Posted on July 15, 2016 by Ken

 

Newly-appointed South African women’s cricket captain Dane’ van Niekerk will miss her team’s first engagement since her appointment as she and three other leading players will not be making the trip to Ireland for a four-match ODI and two-match T20 series in Dublin from 1-11 August.

All-rounder Van Niekerk, fast bowler Shabnim Ismail and batters Marizanne Kapp and Lizelle Lee are the current stars of the South African team and have, deservedly, won contracts to play the England Super League T20 competition.

This is a great opportunity for the country’s top women’s players, who are way behind the men and their own counterparts from places like England, Australia and New Zealand when it comes to being able to make a decent living out of cricket, and, given that the Irish invited the Proteas after they had already been given No Objection Certificates and signed contracts with the Super League, Cricket South Africa have wisely decided to allow them to honour their commitments in England.

The absence of the four stars will also, however, boost CSA’s efforts aimed at producing more depth in the women’s national team.

“We see this as a good opportunity to give our young, up-and-coming players some vital international experience,” coach Hilton Moreeng said. “This will help us with the depth of the side and it will be a good test to see what they have to offer, especially after campaigning for a place in the side for so long. All of them have represented South Africa before and will value the opportunity to play more cricket against a good Ireland side on foreign soil.”

The South Africans will have a well-travelled replacement captain in Dinesha Devnarain, who leads the KZN side and is also a leading coach, one of only eight women in the country with a Level III certificate.

There is still plenty of top-class talent in the side with former captain Mignon du Preez, Trisha Chetty, Ayabonga Khaka, Marcia Letsoalo, Chloe Tryon, Moseline Daniels and Sune Luus all included in the touring party.

Medium-pacer Letsoalo said there is a hunger in the side to ensure they do not make the same mistakes as last season.

“We can improve, we know what we’re capable of. We let ourselves down last season, we know the mistakes we made and we’re working hard not to repeat them. It boils down to preparation and fitness, and being able to execute. You have to be wise and able to perform in the game.

“Having a strong batting department is the key thing we have been working on at the centre of excellence academy, batting long hours, rectifying the mistakes and weaknesses. The bowlers must just keep doing what we’re doing,” Letsoalo said.

 

Team: Dinesha Devnarain (KZN), Trisha Chetty (Gauteng), Mignon du Preez (Northerns), Lara Goodall (Boland), Ayabonga Khaka (Border), Yolani Fourie (Gauteng), Marcia Letsoalo (Northerns), Andrie Steyn (Western Province), Laura Wolvaardt (Western Province), Masabata Klaas (Northerns), Chloe Tryon (KZN), Moseline Daniels (Boland), Suné Luus (Northerns), Odine Kirsten (Northerns).

 

Fixtures: 1 August – 1st T20I (YMCA); 3 August – 2nd T20I (YMCA); 5 August – 1st ODI (Merrion); 7 August – 2nd ODI (YMCA); 9 August – 3rd ODI (Malahide); 11 August – 4th ODI (The Hills).

 

Delight for Stormers as they upset Bulls at Loftus 0

Posted on August 05, 2015 by Ken

The DHL Stormers had their fans at Loftus Versfeld screaming with delight on Saturday night as they upset the Vodacom Bulls 29-17 for their first SuperRugby win in Pretoria since 2012.

While the small but noticeable group of Stormers supporters left Loftus thrilled by their underdogs pulling off a surprisingly convincing victory over the highly-rated Bulls, the home fans were left contemplating how, for all the talk of a new era, their team played much as they did last year. The Bulls were flat, did not make enough use of their possession, wasting a lot of it through basic errors, and their scrum was always under pressure.

In fact, it was even worse than last year because the Bulls were undefeated at home in the 2014 SuperRugby competition.

And it had all started so promisingly for the Bulls as wing Bjorn Basson came bursting through on a lovely switch, earning a fourth-minute penalty for offsides. The Bulls bravely kicked it to touch and their rolling maul steamrolled over the line, with flank Deon Stegmann getting the opening try.

And then fullback Jurgen Visser dropped a regulation kick ahead by Dillyn Leyds, which the Stormers wing picked up as he followed through, racing over the line for the visitors’ first try. From then on, the Bulls’ wheels began falling off.

Flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis kicked a penalty and then eighthman Duane Vermeulen came storming through on an angled run to score the second try, with centre Damian de Allende shaking off several defenders to make the try-scoring pass.

By now the Stormers were winning the scrum battle hands down and were defending with tremendous ferocity, while also carrying the ball with greater intensity than the home side.

Going into the break with a 5-17 deficit, the Bulls desperately needed to lift themselves in the second half and they played with greater accuracy and urgency in the third quarter.

Flyhalf Handre Pollard, having missed his first three kicks at goal in the first half, succeeded with a 42nd-minute penalty after strong runs by eighthman Pierre Spies and lock Jacques du Plessis.

Pollard registered further penalties in the 48th (after Basson claimed a fine take in the air), 54thand 60th minutes, while Catrakilis kept his perfect record intact with a 51st-minute penalty.

But the shaky foundation at the scrum and the tremendous Stormers defence meant that the Bulls were often running up blind alleys and the visitors finished the match strongly.

De Allende, a shining light in the Stormers backline, almost scored but was forced out on the corner flag by Jan Serfontein and Pollard, but it still led to another penalty for Catrakilis (23-17).

His replacement, Kurt Coleman, slotted a penalty in the 73rd minute as another Bulls scrum came crashing down, and then a drop goal two minutes from time, widened the wound for the Bulls into a gaping gash.

For all their talk about raising the tempo of their play, there still seemed to be too many Bulls carthorses in comparison to the livewire, all-action Stormers.

The decision to sign tighthead prop Vincent Koch on a loan deal from the Pumas looks a masterstroke as he gave the Stormers scrum a tremendous foundation, as well as being a force in the loose.

Locks Ruan Botha and Jean Kleyn also looked full of promise and there are plenty of promising signs for the Stormers for the season ahead.

Scorers

Bulls: Try – Deon Stegmann. Penalties – Handre Pollard (4).

Stormers: Tries – Dillyn Leyds, Duane Vermeulen. Conversions – Demetri Catrakilis (2). Penalties – Catrakilis (3), Kurt Coleman. Drop goal – Coleman

http://citizen.co.za/327043/bulls-vs-stormers-low/

Meyer has wanted Brussow since his Japan adventure 0

Posted on July 22, 2015 by Ken

 

According to Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer, he has been wanting to choose Heinrich Brussow ever since he started playing in Japan and regained his pace of old, but his selection was delayed by long-term injuries.

Brussow was the surprise selection in the Springbok team announced to play the All Blacks at Ellis Park on Saturday, earning his first Test cap under Meyer and ending a four-year spell in the international wilderness as he joins Francois Louw in a loose trio featuring two specialist openside flanks.

“I have a lot of respect for Heinrich, there has been a lot of speculation that there is bad blood between us but that’s certainly not the case. There’s been a lot of communication between us, he knew where he stood and he has worked hard.

“He had two bad injuries and I believe he lost a bit of pace because of them, and then he tried to get too big and gained weight. But since playing in Japan, where the game is quicker, Heinrich has got his speed back, which is what you need as an openside.

“He has a very good record against the All Blacks [having been on the winning side in all four previous appearances against them] and I believe it’s the right game to give him a go, he deserves that.

“I’m going with two opensides because I believe the battle will be won on the ground on Saturday and the All Blacks have one of the best opensides in the world in Richie McCaw. One of the main things for the openside is also to secure your own ball and Heinrich has worked on that as well,” Meyer said.

Brussow described his game as having become more “clinical” since his last appearance for the Springboks, limping off early in the bitterly disappointing 2011 World Cup quarterfinal against Australia, which would have been a very sad end to a career in which he had won 14 of the previous 19 Tests he had played in.

“It’s a few years ago that I last played for the Springboks and I’m more experienced now, I think I make better decisions on which rucks to chase. I’ve become more clinical as the laws have changed and I’ve had to adapt.

“It was a different experience playing in Japan but I wanted to try new things and their game plan over there is really quick. I have a good relationship with Heyneke, I always knew where I stood so I kept positive and working hard. But then when I was close to selection, injuries came my way,” the man who turned 29 on Tuesday said.

The selection of two fetchers is a dramatic change in direction for Meyer, who has made his love for big ball-carriers and lineout options in the loose trio very clear, but Brussow said his job will be made easier by having Louw alongside him.

“I played with another openside flank at the Cheetahs because we did not always have big loose forwards, we often played with two fetchers. It makes it easier, you can make better decisions and support each other.

“But it’s going to be a big challenge against the All Blacks, any game against them is tough, but you have to beat the best to be the best. Richie McCaw speaks for himself, but with Liam Messam, Kieran Read and Jerome Kaino, that’s the best loose trio in the world, they’re playing well and in form,” Brussow said.

The other main feature of the Springbok selection is a new-look bench, with Vincent Koch set to make his Test debut. Flip van der Merwe will bring his experience upon his return from his self-imposed exile, while Lionel Mapoe could also play his first match in the Green and Gold.

Cornal Hendricks was originally named on the bench, but then wing JP Pietersen strained his hamstring in training, allowing the Cheetahs flyer to move up to the starting line-up and giving Mapoe his call-up as wing/outside centre cover, just like the veteran Sharks player.

Warren Whiteley is the reserve loose forward and will surely come on in front of his adoring home crowd for his first home Test, Meyer saying his abilities in the lineout and in open play would be valuable in the final quarter.

Meyer’s use of the bench in the last-minute loss to Australia in Brisbane last weekend was criticised, but the coach defended his tactics, saying he was in a no-win situation.

“I was in a lose/lose situation because we have so many injuries and I’m trying to bring players back for the World Cup. And then Victor Matfield and Marcell Coetzee went off and Jannie du Plessis also got injured.

“People say players are over the hill and ready for retirement, and then when I substitute them they say that was wrong too. We didn’t lose because of the replacements, we lost because we made mistakes. The big difference is my teams play, whereas those of the kenners [experts] don’t!” Meyer said.

The Springbok coach will certainly make changes in the final quarter again, however, because he expects a late surge from the superbly fit All Blacks.

“Last year at Ellis Park we made a great start against them but then they came back. In their last 60 matches, most of them have been won in the final 20 minutes because their fitness is superior.

“So we need fresh guys coming off the bench, I expect an open, running game from the All Blacks in the last 15 minutes, they’ll play at a very high tempo, which is one thing we’re not very good at presently,” Meyer said.

Hearing Meyer call for improvement in the tempo at which the Springboks play may surprise the public, but his loose trio selection is a genuine shock. Instead of playing two fetchers, Meyer could have used captain Schalk Burger as a ball-carrier, Whiteley starting at eighthman, or even Teboho Mohoje or Siya Kolisi as blindside flanks.

“We pride ourselves in having one or two big ball-carriers who can get over the gain-line and also stop the opposition’s momentum. It’s a problem at this stage and you don’t want to use half-measures, there’s simply no-one standing at the moment who can do that.

“So we have to change our game plan. Games against the All Blacks are always lost or won at the breakdown, they thrive on quick ball, especially at the end of the game,” Meyer explained.

The life of a Springbok coach is never simple and Meyer knows he will face a backlash from his transformation critics over Mohoje and Kolisi being leapfrogged, but he is selecting with half-an-eye on the World Cup and measuring potential players under pressure.

That’s also why Hendricks has returned, why Brussow has been given another life in international rugby and why there has been so much rotation on the bench.

Springbok team: 15-Willie le Roux, 14-Cornal Hendricks, 13-Jesse Kriel, 12-Damian de Allende, 11-Bryan Habana, 10-Handre Pollard, 9-Ruan Pienaar, 8-Schalk Burger, 7-Francois Louw, 6-Heinrich Brussow, 5-Lood de Jager, 4-Eben Etzebeth, 3-Jannie du Plessis, 2-Bismarck du Plessis, 1-Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements – 16-Trevor Nyakane, 17-Adriaan Strauss, 18-Vincent Koch, 19-Flip van der Merwe, 20-Warren Whiteley, 21-Cobus Reinach, 22-Pat Lambie, 23-Lionel Mapoe.



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