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Ken Borland



Bulls have the spirit but little power 0

Posted on April 22, 2017 by Ken

 

It was far from the displays of arrogant power the Bulls have historically produced at Loftus Versfeld, but at least they managed to get the win as they scraped through 20-14 against the Cheetahs in their SuperRugby match in Pretoria on Saturday night.

The Bulls were once again their own worst enemies with numerous unforced basic errors, and they left it late to keep their unbeaten record at home intact for this season as Jesse Kriel’s 74th-minute try gave them the lead for the first time and ended up being the last score of the game.

The Cheetahs had led 11-3 at halftime and were able to use their scrum as a tremendous platform, while also disrupting the Bulls’ lineout maul and causing problems with their own driving maul. The visitors were also more slick on attack and credit must go to the Bulls defence for restricting them to just one try, and that from a rolling maul.

The Cheetahs scrum made themselves known in the first set-piece of the match, shoving the Bulls towards the touchline and allowing space for a backline move which saw right wing William Small-Smith looping around and then stabbing a clever grubber through which forced the Bulls to concede a five-metre lineout.

The Bulls were penalised for sacking the driving maul and the Cheetahs kicked to touch again, fiery loose forward Paul Schoeman rumbling over for the opening try from the second drive.

The Bulls also did themselves no favours through a lack of presence at the breakdowns, and a nice little dart by outside centre Francois Venter earned the Cheetahs a ruck penalty, which flyhalf Niel Marais slotted to put them 8-0 ahead in the 10th minute.

The Bulls are capable of playing some impressive rugby when they can hang on to the ball without someone dropping a straightforward pass, and 19 phases of sustained pressure eventually led to a penalty, allowing flyhalf Tian Schoeman to put them on the board in the 26th minute.

But the scrums are always an area of concern for the Bulls and they soon went down in a heap once again, allowing Marais to extend the Cheetahs’ lead back to 11-3 with another penalty.

That was the halftime score and it had been a disappointing first 40 minutes, with the sheer number of errors backing up those who feel South African rugby players are well behind when it comes to skills.

At least the Free Staters can still scrum, with loosehead prop Charles Marais thoroughly dictating affairs against Bulls tighthead Jacobie Adriaanse, the steady stream of penalties from that set-piece messing up the flow of the game for the home side.

But Adriaanse, together with openside flank Nick de Jager, who had struggled to make any impact at the breakdowns, then sponsored replacement flank Jacques Potgieter for the second try with fine runs and nifty offloads.

Although the Bulls undoubtedly lifted their game in the second half, they still made a lot of unforced errors and they wasted a fine counter-ruck by replacement prop Lizo Gqoboka when scrumhalf Piet van Zyl fumbled the ball, was tackled and then conceded a penalty at the ruck, Niel Marais stretching the Cheetahs’ lead to 14-10 after the home side had closed to 10-11.

Bulls flyhalf Tian Schoeman brought the gap back to just one point, however, with an excellent long-range penalty punishing the Cheetahs for a high tackle after the home side had run from their own half.

The Bulls certainly showed more attacking spark in the final quarter and the match-winning try also came from a long way out.

Right wing Travis Ismaiel effected a vital turnover inside his own half and left wing Jamba Ulengo then went through the gap, centre Burger Odendaal then feeding outside centre Jesse Kriel out wide, the Springbok cutting back inside to evade two cover-tacklers and score the second, crucial try.

Tian Schoeman converted for a 20-14 lead, but the Bulls defence still had to hold out at the end, Ismaiel and fullback Warrick Gelant combining to tackle left wing Raymond Rhule out on the corner flag in the last play of the game.

It was typical of the spirited defence the Bulls showed all night and the determination of the team not to lose, despite how badly they were playing, must please coach Nollis Marais.

But the Bulls must still do more when they have the ball and their skills have to be better if they are to be a force in SuperRugby. They have the pace and power out wide, but too often they are running from deep, which stifles their attacking efforts.

The Bulls will be enjoying a bye next week, but then they host the Crusaders and Highlanders on successive weekends and they will be far more ruthless in punishing the many errors they are still making.

Points scorers

Bulls: Tries – Jacques Potgieter, Jesse Kriel. Conversions – Tian Schoeman (2). Penalties – Schoeman (2).

Cheetahs: Try – Paul Schoeman. Penalties – Niel Marais (3).

 

Hockey’s junior stars are talented & transformed 0

Posted on May 03, 2016 by Ken

 

The South African men’s U21 team played in the final of the Greenfields Senior Interprovincial Nationals in Randburg on Saturday, showing that there is plenty of young talent coming through the ranks. But they are also thoroughly transformed with eight players of colour in the squad, including six Black Africans, showing that hockey is heading away from the representivity frustrations that have dogged them in the past.

And while “quotas” is a word bandied about by the older generation, it is not a hip word when it comes to hockey’s rising young talent.

“It hasn’t been difficult at all to find players of colour for the team because these guys have come through the age-groups, they’ve played together in the U16s and U18s, where there is a heck of a lot of good quality. The core of this side have played Tests together for the SA U18s and made the Junior Olympics semi-finals with the SA U17s, both under Neville Rothman, my assistant coach.

“So there are no quota – I hate that word – players in the team. They were all born after 1995 and have played in every national team together, so there is no baggage. They say it themselves in team meetings that the colour of your skin makes no difference. There’s a very positive feeling in this squad, there’s such a positive culture,” SA U21 coach Garreth Ewing said.

The players of colour in the current squad that is beating seasoned professionals at the senior IPT are composed midfielder Tyson Dlungwana, defender Nduduza Lembethe, Ryan Julius, an elusive runner with the ball, forward Khumo Mokale, the skilful Nqobile Ntuli, pacy Tevin Kok, solid Amkelwa Letuka and goalkeeper Siyavuya Nolutshungu, and they would comfortably be playing in this IPT for their provincial sides were they not on national duty.

“Obviously we do pay close attention to the players of colour, but a lot of them are our best players. Some of them are going to be superstars. They have a long way to go, but their ability and decision-making under pressure is already so good. I can’t wait to see where they all go, six of them already have full national caps,” Ewing said.

Ewing, who has considerable experience coaching both locally and internationally, clearly likes the emphasis on bringing through players of colour that has to be there if South African hockey are to get back to where they want to be – in the upper echelons of the world game.

“What is coming through underneath shows that there is so much potential. We’re not afraid of targets, we embrace them. Things don’t happen overnight, but we’re getting there. The guys play with such joy and style, their hockey is so attractive,” Ewing said.

Most encouragingly, Black coaches are also starting to come through. The losing semi-finalists, KZN Raiders and the Northerns Blues, are coached by Sihle Ntuli and Krinesan Moodley respectively. WP Peninsula are coached by Denzil Dolley and the team they played in the B Section final, KZN Mynahs, are mentored by Sharmin Naidoo

Patrick Tshutshani is Ewing’s counterpart with the junior women, Ryan Pillay coached the Western Province women’s team and even the Mpumalanga women’s team have a Black African coach in Brighty Mshaba.

Numerous other players of colour have shone with Jermaine Johnson and Julian Hykes both playing key roles in getting Southern Gauteng into the men’s final, while Pierre de Voux of Western Province and KZN’s Mohamed Mea are two newer players that are going to have the national selectors’ eyes on them.

The story is the same in the women’s section: Southern Gauteng are going to take on Northerns Blues in the final with Sanani Mangisa their stalwart in goal and Toni Marks and Lisa Hawker two of their man threats up front.

Northerns have Mmatshepo Modipane in goal.

But there is a challenge that SA Hockey will need outside help to overcome and, as ever, it is a financial one.

“The financial challenges for the previously disadvantaged players is huge. Consider the cost of going to our world cup – and the players have to pay! My biggest fear is having to leave someone behind because they can’t afford it,” Ewing says sombrely.

Why Quinton de Kock must go 0

Posted on December 15, 2015 by Ken

 

South Africa are safely through the pool stages of the World Cup and now the crunch end of the tournament arrives with the knockout games. For the Proteas, that means a quarterfinal most probably against Sri Lanka at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Wednesday.

There is a possibility, however, that South Africa might have to play Australia in the quarterfinals, in Adelaide. If Australia’s match against Scotland in Hobart today is washed out, then the hosts will finish third in Pool A because Sri Lanka will have four wins as opposed to three for Australia.

South Africa are 99.9% certain of finishing second in Pool B because if Pakistan beat Ireland in Adelaide tomorrow for their fourth win of the group stage, then they will have do it by more than 500 runs or chase down their target in less than 10 overs to give themselves a better net run-rate than the Proteas.

So, working on the assumption that it will be Sri Lanka standing in the way of South Africa, how do the Proteas go about winning a knockout game at the World Cup for the first time?

Firstly, selection will be crucial and, for me, it comes down to either Vernon Philander or Farhaan Behardien at number seven.

Whoever coach Russell Domingo includes out of those two, Rilee Rossouw has to play and should open with Hashim Amla.

AB de Villiers may have backed Quinton de Kock publically – it’s another display of saying it until you believe it by the captain following him once again saying “South Africa are the best team in the tournament” – but our patience has run out after just 53 runs in six innings by the wicketkeeper. For the good of the team in a do-or-die game, De Villiers needs to keep however reluctant he is.

Most tellingly, De Kock has been out to the same delivery in all six innings – length outside off stump – and his dismissals have all been caught: at mid-off, mid-off, cover and three-in-a-row caught behind. So Sri Lanka know exactly where to bowl to continue the left-hander’s poor run of form.

The rugga buggers, who have two World Cup crowns to boast about, will tell you that when it comes to the pinnacle of international sport, any weak link is immediately targeted. You can’t have a dodgy prop or a defensively poor flyhalf if you’re going to be world champions.

Similarly, South Africa can’t have JP Duminy as a fifth bowler, delivering 10 overs. The off-spinner has only bowled 21 overs in four matches, conceding 6.19 runs-per-over, so he needs someone to help him share the load.

Against a strong batting side like Sri Lanka, on an SCG pitch where they scored 312 against Australia, and South Africa made 408 for five against the West Indies, I would go with five frontline bowlers and play Philander and Kyle Abbott.

One of those five is bound to be targeted and have an off-day, leaving Duminy to pick up the remainder of his overs.

To pull the rug out from under Sri Lanka’s feet, the Proteas are clearly going to have to dismiss Kumar Sangakkara and Tillekeratne Dilshan cheaply. The only problem is they average 45.89 and 47.09 respectively against South Africa.

The only drawback from playing five frontline bowlers is that it leaves South Africa with only six specialist batsmen and their supporters know only too well how vulnerable they are when chasing in World Cups.

That may favour Behardien playing ahead of Abbott. I am a fan of the Titans batsman having seen his finishing ability numerous times at franchise level; but I fear Sangakkara, Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene and Angelo Mathews hitting him and Duminy out the park and the Proteas having to chase over 300 as a result.

 

Lions fix their defence & cut through WP’s to win final 0

Posted on October 24, 2015 by Ken

 

The Golden Lions said before the Currie Cup final that they would have to fix the defensive errors that made things close in the semi-final against the Free State Cheetahs, and they did that to great effect while consistently breaking through the Western Province lines on their way to a 32-24 victory and the title at Ellis Park on Saturday.

The scoreboard was a one-sided 29-10 two minutes into the second half, but the lopsided score masked how well the Lions had defended and how soft a couple of their tries had been.

There were nerves all around at the start as both kickers made mistakes, Lions flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff missing two early penalties, but the home side were looking dangerous, making inroads as Western Province tended to tackle around the chest and were also quick to fan out in defence, making them vulnerable to the inside-pass.

These two factors came together perfectly for the Lions in the 14th minute as exciting new outside centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg muscled through the too-high tackles of Juan de Jongh and Sikhumbuzo Notshe in midfield and broke clear into Western Province territory.

He held on to the ball too long and it was knocked loose by the tackler, but livewire fullback Andries Coetzee was on hand to pick up and continue the attack. From the next ruck, Warren Whiteley passed out to Boshoff, who immediately passed back inside for the eighthman to burst through a big gap and score the opening try.

Six minutes later, another crucial missed tackle by the visitors saw Coetzee go around the outside without much trouble. Western Province again ignored the close-in channels at the ruck and scrumhalf Ross Cronje threw a short pass and then got the ball immediately back on the inside, dashing over for a try without a hand being laid on him.

Western Province were missing tackles and making basic errors like not finding touch on penalty kicks, losing their own lineouts and kicking turnover ball like tightheads from their powerful scrum straight into touch.

Flyhalf Robert du Preez did kick a 27th-minute penalty to get Western Province on the board, but the Lions threatened to make the final one of the less thrilling spectacles of the season when they scored their third try to claim a 19-3 lead.

Scrumhalf Cronje might not be one of the most highly-rated players in this impressive Lions outfit, but he is an important cog in their fluent attacking play and he will always remember the 2015 Currie Cup final as he scored his second try on his way to winning the man of the match award.

Cronje threw a lovely dummy from the base of a ruck and fought his way through another high and ineffectual tackle to score.

Boshoff then kicked a 38th-minute penalty and the Lions were in firm control with a 22-3 lead and threatening to run away with the final.

Western Province badly needed a way back into the match and it came via their powerful scrum, providing the perfect platform close to the line for Du Preez to knife through for a much-needed try and then convert to bring them back into the game at 10-22 at the break.

The Fat Lady had certainly not sung yet, but she did begin warming up again as the Lions scored two minutes into the second half.

Janse van Rensburg was again a muscular presence in forcing his way between two poor tackle attempts to dot down and round off a strong attack that featured a mini-break by flank Kwagga Smith.

Boshoff converted and the Lions’ lead was back to 19 points (29-10) and the situation was desperate for Western Province.

Once they managed to hang on to the ball for a while, they were able to bring their lethal back three into the game and fullback Cheslin Kolbe was able to scythe through an outside gap to put WP in the red zone, from where eighthman Nizaam Carr’s pace, power and nifty stepping was too much for even the Lions’ defence.

Du Preez converted and suddenly the visitors were two tries away (17-29) with half-an-hour remaining.

Boshoff, however, slotted a crucial long-range penalty from 51 metres after replacement prop Oli Kebble had been penalised for a dangerous tackle, which forced Western Province to score three times.

Their powerful scrum forced a penalty, which was kicked to touch, allowing Western Province’s rolling maul to surge over the tryline, Notshe getting the try.

Coleman converted to make it 24-32, but Western Province continued to lose lineout and breakdown ball to stymie their comeback, and a harsh yellow card to replacement lock Chris van Zyl, for not using his arms in clearing out a ruck, was the final blow.

To go through a Currie Cup season unbeaten is a remarkable achievement, not seen since the Natal Sharks did it in 1996, and the Lions and their coaches deserve enormous credit.

Johan Ackermann has honed their pack into a tremendous unit, but locks Franco Mostert and Lourens Erasmus stood out on Saturday in their efforts to ensure momentum for the Lions.

Their hard-working loose trio brings tremendous presence to the breakdowns and Janse van Rensburg and Coetzee took the attack to the opposition most effectively.

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    1 Corinthians 3:3 - "For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?"

    One of my favourite U2 songs is a collaboration with Johnny Cash called The Wanderer, and it features the line "they say they want the kingdom, but they don't want God in it".
    Many people say they believe in God, but they don't experience his loving presence. They may be active in Christian work, but only if they have their way. If they cannot be leaders, they refuse to be involved.
    Because they refuse to allow God to fill their lives with his love, they remain weak and powerless.
    Spiritual maturity means developing a greater love for others.

    "When the love of Christ saturates you, immature attitudes such as pettiness, jealousy and strife are dissolved.
    "It is only when you have an intimate relationship with the Lord that you receive sufficient grace to rise above this immaturity and enjoy the solid food that the Holy Spirit gives you." - Solly Ozrovech, A Shelter From The Storm



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