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Ken Borland

Bulls kneel in submission to Crusaders at Loftus 0

Posted on May 06, 2017 by Ken


The hapless Bulls were forced to kneel in submission to the might of the Crusaders as they were thrashed 62-24, suffering their biggest ever defeat at their Loftus Versfeld fortress, in their SuperRugby match on Saturday night.

It is both the most points the Bulls have conceded at home and the biggest losing margin, worse than their 56-28 defeat at the hands of the Blues in 2003.

As brilliant as the Crusaders were, the Bulls were utterly supine, their defence passive and lacking any of the fire they had spoken of in the week leading up to the match. Their attacks invariably started from so deep that they were seldom any real threat to a Crusaders side that is playing magnificent rugby at present.

There weren’t many lineouts in the game, but scrummaging was once again the bane of the Bulls’ lives, with that set-piece being destroyed with regularity by a Crusaders tight five led by stalwart Wyatt Crockett. Aimless kicking, poor defensive alignment and bad basic skills were some of the other failings to bedevil the Bulls.

As dismal as the Bulls were, the Crusaders deserve huge credit because they are playing proper rugby at the moment – strong in the set-pieces, direct with plenty of pace and power out wide, their execution is immaculate and coach Scott Robertson is clearly getting a new-look side to play with confidence while thoroughly enjoying themselves.

Outside centre Jack Goodhue, a former All Blacks Sevens player and Junior World Cup winner, was the central figure in the Crusaders’ enforcement of their huge dominance of the advantage line. His decision-making was outstanding, knowing exactly when to carry the ball, which he did with pace and great footwork, and when to put through clever grubbers which ripped the Bulls apart. Two tries were just reward for a powerful display.

The soft defence of the Bulls was obvious in the opening minutes when flank Pete Samu, bursting from a scrappy lineout, was tackled but then just let go inside the 22, allowing the Australian to regather the ball and storm over the line for the opening try. The heart of the Bulls has to be called into question because everyone expected them to come out breathing fire, playing with great physicality to at least make the Crusaders’ expected win tough to achieve.

The scrums were a disaster area for the Bulls with the Crusaders employing the tactic of shifting to the left immediately after the hit. Bulls captain Adriaan Strauss admitted after the game that it was a clever strategy and entirely within the law, the home side just not coping with it.

The Bulls attack is running from deep so often that it is always going to be a huge uphill battle for them to get over the advantage line. The Bulls’ backline is certainly a threat on turnover ball but the lack of vision and skill is also so apparent. A key moment in the game came in the 19th minute when the Bulls created space out wide for fullback Warrick Gelant, who raced down the touchline and then fed the ball inside to Piet van Zyl. The scrumhalf had a man on his inside and outside, but held on to the ball too long and the move broke down. Tian Schoeman then missed the resulting penalty. It was the sort of chance that is a certain try for every New Zealand team and it would have made the score 10-14 to the Crusaders.

The bench did at least make some impact for the Bulls, with Jan Serfontein and replacement flyhalf Francois Brummer, in particular, showing that the way forward may well include them in the starting line-up.


Points scorers

Bulls – Tries: Jesse Kriel, Jamba Ulengo, Jan Serfontein. Conversions: Francois Brummer (3). Penalty: Tian Schoeman.

Crusaders – Tries: Pete Samu, Tim Bateman, Scott Barrett, Jack Goodhue (2), Seta Tamanivalu, David Havili, Richie Mo’unga, Andrew Makalio, Mitchell Hunt. Conversions: Mo’unga (5), Hunt.


SA acquit themselves superbly at Oval 0

Posted on July 26, 2012 by Ken

South Africa acquitted themselves superbly as they thrashed England by an innings and 12 runs in the first Test at the Oval in London on Monday.


England, the official world number one, were bowled out for 240 in their second innings on the fifth and final day, making South Africa resounding favourites to win the three-match series and take that top ranking away from the hosts.

South Africa’s officials were adamant that the team had enough preparation leading into the Test, despite many pundits suggesting otherwise, and, apart from a first-day performance that lacked intensity and focus, they were always on top of the England team.

England began the final day on 102 for four and fought valiantly to save the Test before Dale Steyn, building up a wonderful head of steam with the second new ball, claimed three for eight in four overs midway through the afternoon session to break their resistance.

Steyn had begun the day by sending Ravi Bopara packing for 22, the batsman flashing at a wide delivery outside off stump without much conviction and dragging the ball back on to his middle stump.

But Ian Bell and Matt Prior batted with admirable tenacity and application, while showing solid technique and no little skill as they took England through to lunch on 177 for five.

Bell had survived two chances, AB de Villiers clanging a simple catch off leg-spinner Imran Tahir when he was on 20 and the wicketkeeper then missed what would have been a spectacular run out when Bell had 28.

Steyn, getting big reverse-swing, and Tahir, obtaining turn and bounce out of the rough, combined well after lunch to keep the pressure on England.

Tahir, who served his team well in the second innings with figures of three for 63 in 32 overs, provided a crucial breakthrough by removing Prior 11 overs after the break.

England’s wicketkeeper/batsman tried to sweep, but the bounce Tahir was getting always makes that stroke a very risky one and the safe hands of Jacques Kallis snaffled the top-edge at slip as it flew past De Villiers.

Prior had stuck around for 86 balls, scoring 40, a good effort for England and Bell, about whom much has been written as a strokeplayer, showed plenty of resilience, character and skill in scoring 55 off 220 balls.

The key wicket of Bell came in the second over with the new ball as the batsman followed an away-swinger from Steyn, second slip Kallis taking the catch, which came very quickly as the ball basically came off the face of the bat.

The wickets of Stuart Broad, caught behind for a duck gloving a leg-side lifter, and Graeme Swann, driving straight to cover-point, came quickly thereafter for Steyn, giving him superb figures of five for 56 in 21 overs.

After some brief resistance from Tim Bresnan (20 not out), Tahir then ended the innings by trapping Jimmy Anderson lbw for four with a delivery that basically rolled after it pitched in the rough.

The delighted South Africans, with their first victory at the Oval at their 14th attempt, are now calling the tune in the three-Test series that will decide the number one ranked team in the world.

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