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Ken Borland



Sharks have tough time against 14-man Rebels 0

Posted on November 18, 2016 by Ken

 

The Cell C Sharks had a tough time beating a 14-man Melbourne Rebels team in their Vodacom SuperRugby match at Kings Park in Durban on Friday night, eventually scrambling to a 25-21 victory.

The crowd had little to get excited about in the first half until the 29th minute when a fight broke out between Sharks tighthead Jannie du Plessis and the Rebels number three, Laurie Weeks.

Replays showed that Du Plessis had slapped Weeks on the back of the head, prompting a barrage of punches from the Rebels frontrower. With the input of the TMO Marius Jonker, referee Jaco van Heerden yellow-carded Du Plessis and gave Weeks a red card.

It meant that the Rebels played with one man short for the whole second half, but it didn’t seem to faze them as they held their own in the scrums and had a real chance of winning after scoring two tries in the final quarter.

The Sharks had little impact on attack because they lacked straight runners and their handling – as well as the Rebels’ – was dreadful.

They were given a 10-0 lead five minutes after the Du Plessis/Weeks fracas thanks to a storming run by wing S’bura Sithole, who stood out for the Sharks with his work-rate and powerful running, but the Rebels were able to cut the deficit to 7-10 on the halftime whistle, thanks to a try by eighthman and captain Scott Higginbotham, who was rightly given the man of the match award despite finishing on the losing side.

The Sharks defence had held off the Rebels for numerous phases, but the explosive Higginbotham was then given the chance to score by a weak tackle by flyhalf Lionel Cronje.

The Sharks were under pressure early in the second half, but fullback Lwazi Mvovo saved them by intercepting on his own 22 and then racing away for an 80-metre try.

The home side were plagued by scrappy ball-retention and hesitancy on attack, but replacement centre Heimar Williams lifted them to a 22-7 lead after 52 minutes with a brilliant solo try.

The 23-year-old produced the direct running that had been so lacking, cutting back inside and then racing past the cover defence for the first try of his SuperRugby career and a memorable one at that.

The Rebels fought back doggedly, however, inspired by the brilliance of Higginbotham.

On the hour mark, he stormed through a big hole in the Sharks’ midfield for his second try and, with five minutes left in the match, he set up the Rebels’ third try, by replacement wing Bryce Hegarty.

The Sharks had been on attack after Mvovo broke from deep for the second time, but once again the poor ball-retention let them down, the Reds winning a turnover and Higginbotham surging forward from the 22-metre line.

The defeat means it is the end of the road for the Rebels’ hopes of reaching the playoffs, while the Sharks are still trying to rid their game of the basic errors that hold them back.

The defence was good at times, but the attack is amongst the most insipid in the competition.

Scorers

Sharks – Tries: S’Bura Sithole, Lwazi Mvovo, Heimar Williams. Conversions: Lionel Cronje (2). Penalties: Cronje (2).

Rebels – Tries: Scott Higginbotham (2), Bryce Hegarty. Conversions: Jack Debreczeni (3).

 

John McFarland on Springboks v Barbarians & the European Tests 0

Posted on November 04, 2016 by Ken

 

The Springboks’ European tour-opener against the Barbarians this weekend is the perfect game to see some of the up-and-coming players in action before three tough Tests coming up against England, Italy and Wales.

Obviously the Barbarians fixture was put in place some time ago, probably by Heyneke Meyer, who would have wanted a warm-up game before taking on England. So the Barbarians team is not that strong, in matches before they have sometimes been like a World XV and players like Ma’a Nonu, Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell have appeared for them against the Springboks.

Normally the game against the BaaBaas is at the end of the tour when they are far stronger, it’s a bit of an anomaly but I think it’s a blessing to have the match at the start of the trip.

Saturday’s outing gives a chance to some of the leading lights of the Currie Cup and SuperRugby, and it could be a completely different Springbok team next weekend against England – I think Allister Coetzee will choose a very experienced side, but the Barbarians match allows him a good couple of weeks to work with the fringe players. In preparing for the BaaBaas, they’ve been given a taste of Springbok rugby and it has also given Allister a chance to work more closely with these players and see how they fit in with his plans.

So it’s basically three weeks preparation for the England match and a chance for the staff to bed down as well. The Springboks are on to their third defence coach this year in JP Ferreira and he will obviously bring new ideas and skills, plus Franco Smith has joined the management. You normally don’t have that long to assimilate new ideas, but this time they can sort out their roles and responsibilities and Allister can see how they all gel together.

Choosing nine uncapped players in his squad to play the Barbarians has basically been forced on the Springboks, but Allister Coetzee understands the situation and he and Matt Proudfoot are both enlightened coaches when it comes to the benefits of having players in Japan.

There is a large amount of South African players spending their off-season in Japan, with the full blessing of their SuperRugby unions because they have signed dual contracts. It’s a win-win situation and, for example, someone like Lions CEO Rudolf Straeuli, with all his experience and wisdom, has a lot of his players on dual contracts. He knows it’s the best way to keep them in South Africa and not lose them to Europe.

For example, Franco Mostert was on his way to Olympique Lyon, but has now renewed his contract with the Lions and has signed to play in Japan as well. Louis Schreuder, Jaco Kriel, Lionel Mapoe and Patrick Osborne all spend their off-season with Kubota before going back to SuperRugby.

In fact, they actually spend very little time on the field because a team can only have three overseas players on the park at any given time. So all the main teams have a rotation policy such that the players don’t play too much but have sufficient time in action. For example, Jaco Kriel came off the bench for us last weekend to play the last 30 minutes, when he got injured, while Lionel Mapoe has only played in two of our four games since he came over.

The Japanese teams are all company-based with a mix of amateur and professional players. Our amateur guys are in their companies’ offices from 8am to 1pm and then they travel out to Funabashi where we are based. They are all totally committed to the cause and their work ethic and work rate are second to none – they’re always doing extra time after training working on things, it really is quite a thing to see.

Frans Ludeke and myself are part of a three-strong foreign coaching group, while we also have three Japanese coaches, who serve as translators.

Most of the teams also have links to SuperRugby franchises – for example while Allister Coetzee was here his Kobe team had links to Dave Rennie and his Chiefs side, while for us it’s with the Hurricanes. So there’s an exchange of ideas and the professional development of coaches.

Anyway, back to the Springboks and they actually have a really good record in Europe lately, having won 16 of their last 21 end-of-year Tests.

Under Heyneke, we had an 80% win record and in 2012 and 2013 we were highly successful, with wins over first Ireland, Scotland and England, and then the next year good triumphs against Wales, Scotland and France. We only lost in 2014 against Ireland and Wales, also when we didn’t have overseas-based players and Wales actually paid for their players to be released.

So in the last four seasons the Springboks have a tremendous record in the Northern Hemisphere and they only conceded half-a-dozen tries in that time, so the defence has been good.

This year the Barbarians will just have a basic framework to play within, but a Brendan Venter-coached Italy are waiting in the middle and it certainly won’t be easy against England and Wales.

To beat them, there are some key areas to get right, like the lineout maul.

England scored twice against us in 2014 with the drive, one of them being from 50 metres out, so the Springboks need to both stop the maul and execute it well themselves. I would like to see one of South Africa’s traditional strengths back in play.

In that same 2014 game we scored against England with a pre-planned move against the rush defence that had Pat Lambie kicking out to Willie le Roux, and playing in that weather means you have to kick well and win the territory battle.

The ability to dominate the collisions in secondary defence is another key thing the Springboks need to get back so they can produce front-foot ball on attack. Jean-Luc du Preez is a strong ball-carrier and tackler and the sort of blindside flank we need, plus he’s tall enough to be a lineout option.

I also know Roelof Smit very well because he waited a long time at the Bulls for a chance, he was very patient behind Deon Stegmann. He can certainly get over the ball and is very hard to shift, while he also has carrying ability and is very good at controlling the maul at the back. He’s a traditional openside flank and he has the physical attributes.

I hope the Springboks emerge with four good wins and then everything will be alright again in South African rugby.

 

 

John McFarland is the assistant coach of the Kubota Spears in Japan and was the Springbok defence coach from 2012-15, having won three SuperRugby titles (2007, 09, 10) with the Bulls and five Currie Cup crowns with the Blue Bulls. In all, he won 28 trophies during his 12 years at Loftus Versfeld.

 

Griquas’ previous wins in Durban mean Sharks in no doubt about challenge 0

Posted on August 11, 2016 by Ken

 

If the Sharks were in any doubt about Griquas presenting them with a tough challenge in their Currie Cup match at Kings Park on Friday night, then the fact that the Northern Cape side have won their last two matches in Durban should dispel any notions of a stroll in the park.

Although the KwaZulu-Natalians beat Griquas 45-20 in Kimberley last year, Griquas won 21-18 at Kings Park in 2014, repeating their 32-30 triumph there in 2013, and Sharks coach Robert du Preez is in no mood for complacency this week.

“Griquas are a very tough side, they’ll be very physical, and we have to bring our A game to beat them,” Du Preez said.

While the Sharks at their best are able to keep ball in hand and stretch most defences, it will be up front in the trenches where Friday night’s game will be won or lost.

“We’re looking to keep ball-in-hand for longer and play more rugby, but the forwards need to create the space on the outside, they need to be direct and dominate contact. You have to earn the right to go wide.

“Griquas are always gutsy, they did well in the qualifiers and I think we’re up for a hard game. They’ll come out and play good rugby, with a lot of energy running on to the ball. They enjoy playing with the ball, they’re unpredictable and they also have their maul and their direct forward play,” loose forward Philip van der Walt said.

Griquas were the leading qualifiers from the preliminary stage, with 11 wins in 14 games, but the whole EP Kings saga has hampered the momentum they would have wanted to take into the Premier Division.

They were originally going to play the Kings in last weekend’s opening round of fixtues, but then it was going to be the Leopards and then they ended up eventually having a bye.

“It has been an unbelievably frustrating couple of weeks, it’s been difficult. We have been doing analysis on three different teams, focused training with a team picked to play the Leopards and then we did not even have a game last week. Some key players were rested for the last game of the qualifiers and the result is some players have not played for over four weeks!

“Mentally it has been difficult and after finishing as the first qualifiers we did not expect this, but we have been training hard, we refocused and will ensure we give everything to make our supporters proud of Griquas,” Peter Engledow, the coach of Griquas, told the side’s website.

 

UJ lift themselves to pick up 2nd successive title 0

Posted on May 25, 2016 by Ken

 

The University of Johannesburg lifted themselves up from a tough first half to claim their second successive Varsity Hockey men’s title as they beat the University of Pretoria Tuks 4-2 in a thrilling final at their home astroturf in Westdene.

Tuks were outstanding as they gave the defending champions a real run for their money and they led for the first 39 minutes through a fine goal by the prolific Richard Pautz. But UJ equalised through Ryan Crowe, one of the best players of the tournament, and the hosts picked up three more goals in the final quarter to seal victory.

But the result was still in the balance in the final minute as Tuks cut the lead to 2-3 through Grant Glutz and they then earned a short-corner, which was charged down and then resulted in a goal at the other end to complete one of the best finals seen in local hockey in recent years.

Tuks took their chances better in the first half and scored after 20 minutes through Pautz, who went on a weaving run and then beat UJ goalkeeper Matthew Martin at his near post with a powerful reverse-sticks strike for a top-grade goal.

UJ had numerous chances but at times seemed too intent on forcing short-corners, and they were also stymied by a superb display of goalkeeping by Tuks number one Hendrik Kriek.

A couple of saves by Kriek in the 12th and 14th minutes and a double-save in the 21st minute were top-drawer and UJ would have gone into halftime knowing they had to be more clinical in the Tuks circle.

The introduction of the powerplay by Tuks two minutes into the second half meant the focus of UJ was initially on defence, but four minutes later they wasted their most obvious chance of the match as they created a two-on-one with the goalkeeper but the excellent scrambling and reflexes of Kriek saw him save Brynn Cleak’s shot.

But three minutes later, the combined efforts of Cleak and Amkelwa Letuka were enough to set up Crowe in the middle of the circle and he finally managed to beat Kriek.

The end of the third quarter came with Glutz flicking wide from a short-corner and the tension levels of the large crowd reached feverish levels as the final went into the last 15 minutes at 1-1.

Like all champion sides, this was when the composure and class of UJ shone through.

The powerplay did not bring reward either for the hosts, but the heroics of Kriek did keep a high reverse-sticks strike by Crowe out in the 48th minute, shortly after it ended.

The deadlock was broken just a minute later though when Taylor Dart, named the player of the tournament, won a short-corner. UJ kept their composure well when the set-piece initially went awry, and Dart passed the ball back to Gareth Heyns, the captain, and he powered a flick into the top left corner of the goal.

The defending champions took a firm grip on the title in the 51st minute when the umpire, John Wright, officiating alongside his brother Peter, awarded the home side a penalty stroke as the tide suddenly turned against Kriek.
The Tuks hero felled Le-Neal Jackson after his great run into the circle, leaving the umpire with little choice but to point to the spot and give the goalkeeper a yellow card. Heyns duly flicked past Keagan du Preez, the substitute goalkeeper, and UJ had control of the game with a 3-1 lead.

But the result was once again put in doubt just three minutes later – setting up a delicious finale – when Stephen Cant’s fine run earned Tuks a short-corner. Cleak cleared nicely off the line off Glutz, but Tuks then won another short corner and this time Glutz succeeded with his low flick. Martins will perhaps feel he could have done better with the shot, that went between his legs.
Tuks then earned another short-corner in the final minute, Glutz showing his tremendous skill to the joy of his team-mates and the Pretoria students’ supporters.

But that soon turned to awful dismay as Jackson roared up as first wave and charged down the shot, running most of the length of the field before finding Cleak on the baseline. The Namibia-born 23-year-old passed back to Jackson, but his shot was kept out by Du Preez. But the rebound fell to Tyson Dlungwana, who buried it in the goal.

Tuks, with several students playing in their last Varsity Hockey tournament, will return to Pretoria bleak, but they played a full role in a thoroughly crowd-pleasing final.
For UJ, the celebrations will be long and joyous as they keep the trophy in Johannesburg.

http://varsitysportssa.com/uj-lift-pick-second-successive-title/

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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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