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Ken Borland

Le Roux & Vermaak could start the spark for Springboks 0

Posted on April 20, 2016 by Ken


Coach Heyneke Meyer knows that he needs to add more attacking spark in year two of his tenure with the national team, and the two new caps chosen for the Test against Italy in Durban on Saturday could be the first steps in that process.

Cheetahs wizard Willie le Roux will start at fullback and Bulls scrumhalf Jano Vermaak in the number nine jersey, with three other uncapped players on the bench in prop Trevor Nyakane, loose forward Arno Botha and centre Jan Serfontein.

By the end of this quadrangular series also featuring Scotland and Samoa, we should know whether Le Roux’s roaming style of play and his dazzling trickery with ball in hand can be successful at Test level. It has certainly sparked something special for the Cheetahs and the 35 tries they have scored so far this season in SuperRugby is the best in the South African Conference and only the Chiefs, Waratahs and Rebels have scored more overall.

It is the Bulls, however, who are leading the South African Conference and it is in no small way thanks to Vermaak’s snappy clearing of the rucks and his speed off the mark on attack that they have 32 tries themselves and have impressed with the balance of their game between penetrative forward runners and a backline that is growing in confidence.

Replacement Ruan Pienaar may have been a star for Ulster again this year, but the 29-year-old has not been part of any of the Springbok training camps and Meyer said he had also gone for the established Morné Steyn/Vermaak combination at halfback.

This means there is no place for Francois Hougaard, even on the bench, with Pat Lambie and Serfontein the other backline reserves. Hougaard would appear to have paid the price for his scrappy service during a slow return from injury, although he was much-improved in the Bulls’ impressive win over the Cheetahs last weekend.

The 20-year-old Serfontein could even be in line for a start, coming in for Jean de Villiers at inside centre if the captain does not recover sufficiently from a hamstring niggle.

Meyer is well-known for his fondness for a big, strong ball-carrier at inside centre, but he has ignored, for the moment anyway, the exciting possibility of having the robust Serfontein at 12 and De Villiers at outside centre.

Instead, JJ Engelbrecht, who the jury is still out on (is he a better centre than a wing?) will wear the number 13 jersey having only played 10 previous minutes of Test rugby as a replacement on the wing against Argentina last year.

Bjorn Basson, so brilliant in the air, makes a return on the left wing to play his first Test since 2011, with the rest of the team pretty much as predicted.

Lourens Adriaanse, Gio Aplon, Marcell Coetzee, Robert Ebersohn, Bismarck du Plessis, Zane Kirchner, Siya Kolisi, Lappies Labuschagné, Lwazi Mvovo and Franco van der Merwe will be twiddling their thumbs next to Hougaard on the side of the field as Meyer goes for some continuity with 10 of the players who appeared in the last Test of 2012, the 16-15 win over England at Twickenham, featuring again this weekend.

The likes of Adriaanse, Aplon, Coetzee, Ebersohn, Kolisi, Labuschagné, Mvovo and Van der Merwe are likely to be given the opportunity of picking up some valuable experience later in the series, but for now Meyer wants to get his 2013 campaign up-and-running with a win over the tricky Italians.

Italian rugby is certainly on the up, as shown by a fourth-place finish in the Six Nations, and their physical pack has the ability to front up to the Springbok forwards.

But how pleasing it would be if it were the attacking skills of a Le Roux-inspired backline that proved the difference at King’s Park.

Team: Willie le Roux, Bryan Habana, JJ Engelbrecht, Jean de Villiers, Bjorn Basson, Morné Steyn, Jano Vermaak, Pierre Spies, Willem Alberts, Francois Louw, Juandré Kruger, Eben Etzebeth, Jannie du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Trevor Nyakane, Coenie Oosthuizen, Flip van der Merwe, Arno Botha, Ruan Pienaar, Pat Lambie, Jan Serfontein.

High-quality SA fast bowling stuffs Sri Lanka 0

Posted on October 08, 2012 by Ken

South Africa’s high-quality fast bowling stuffed Sri Lanka as they beat them by 32 runs in their rain-reduced ICC World T20 match at Hambantota on Saturday.

7th over – WICKET – Dilshan Munaweera’s struggles are over as, after scoring 13 off 14 balls, he cuts Albie Morkel to Farhaan Behardien at deep point. Albie should have another wicket two balls later as Lahiru Thirimanne tries to steer his first ball, a shortish delivery, over short third man, where Morne Morkel leaps, gets two hands to the ball above his head but it slips through.

6th over – Thisara Perera is out for one as he pulls a back-of-a-length delivery from Dale Steyn straight to deep midwicket. Jeevan Mendis collects a well-struck boundary as he bashes the fast bowler straight down the ground for a one-bounce four.

5th over – Jacques Kallis is introduced and has Kumar Sangakkara dropped for a second time with his first ball! Sangakkara, on 10, top-edges a hook as Kallis bangs the ball in short on the receptive surface, the ball steepling to midwicket, where Albie Morkel is perfectly positioned, but the ball slips out! Two balls later, Kallis also digs the ball in short to Munaweera, whose hook shot it also top-edged, but it flies over short fine-leg for four. WICKET – But Kallis eventually gets reward with the penultimate ball of the over as Sangakkara edges a wild swipe to leg and is caught behind by AB de Villiers for 13 off 11 balls.

4th over – Sangakkara creates some room for himself with good footwork and drives Johan Botha crisply through extra cover for four.

3rd over – Another superb over from Morne Morkel but the last ball sees Sangakkara dropped on one as he slices a leg-side heave towards third man, poor old Faf du Plessis running from point, getting under the ball but spilling the catch!

2nd over – A great over from Steyn has cost just three runs and frustrated Sri Lanka. WICKET – Mahela Jayawardena has scored just four off six balls and he steps outside leg stump for the last ball of the over, but Steyn follows him, the Sri Lankan captain flicking the ball high to Behardien at deep square-leg.

1st over – Jayawardena gets the benefit of the doubt on a very close lbw shout first ball, swings wildly outside off stump and misses the second delivery, before driving Morne Morkel’s third ball inside-out high over cover-point for four. WICKET – But disaster then strikes for Sri Lanka as Tillakaratne Dilshan is run out without facing a ball! Jayawardena drives the ball to mid-off, where Albie Morkel fumbles. But Dilshan is on his heels and slow to set off for the single, Albie quickly recovers and throws the ball at the wicketkeeper’s end. The throw is a little wayward, but De Villiers does brilliantly to gather the ball and dive forward into the stumps, colliding with Dilshan’s bat in the process and injuring his forearm. But the dangerous opener is caught centimetres short of his ground!

South Africa innings

Captain AB de Villiers provided the perfect spark as he lifted South Africa to 78 for four after their seven overs in their ICC World T20 match against Sri Lanka at Hambantota on Saturday.

7th over – WICKET – Faf du Plessis holes out to long-off with a lofted drive off Thisara Perera, having scored 13 off 11 balls, but JP Duminy ends the innings in style with a perfectly-executed scoop for a one-bounce four to fine leg and then a superbly struck straight six back over the seamer’s head.

6th over – Lasith Malinga returns, but his first ball is a wide outside off stump and his second is short and hooked magnificently for a massive six by De Villiers. The wicketkeeper/batsman slices the next delivery just over the covers for a couple more runs. WICKET – De Villiers steps outside off stump for the last ball of the over, but goes too early, Malinga sees him and pitches the ball full and wider. De Villiers can only mistime a lofted drive to deep mid-off, having plundered 30 off 13 balls.

5th over – A good start to the over for South Africa as De Villiers belts a reverse-sweep for four off Rangana Herath. Three balls later, the left-arm spinner thinks De Villiers is going to come down the pitch, but the South African captain hangs back, waits for the flatter, short delivery and pummels it over long-on for six.

3rd over – A superb over from left-arm spinner Herath costs just six runs and ends with the wicket of Hashim Amla. WICKET – Amla comes down the pitch for a heave-ho but misses an arm-ball, wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakarra pulling off a superb stumping from outside leg stump. That was beautiful glovework to send Amla on his way for 16 off nine balls.

2nd over – Malinga’s first ball is superbly driven over extra cover for four by Amla. Three balls later, Malinga is striving for his famous yorker, but it’s a half-volley and Amla carves the ball over extra cover again for another boundary.

1st over – WICKET – Richard Levi is deceived by a back-of-the-hand slower ball from Nuwan Kulasekara and his attempted lofted drive skews off the bat, high to wide mid-on, where Dilshan Munaweera, running from midwicket, dives to take a splendid catch. Levi scored four off four balls. Amla’s flashing blade scythes his first ball over the covers for four.

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