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Ken Borland



Sharks come badly undone against superb Lions 0

Posted on July 02, 2016 by Ken

 

The Lions played with superb fluency and confidence, pace and power, to ensure the Sharks would come badly undone on their visit to Johannesburg, the hosts winning their SuperRugby match 37-10 at Ellis Park on Saturday.

After weathering an impressive first five minutes from the Sharks, the Lions were quick to communicate their intention to pick up where they left off before the June international break, their previous result being a similarly superb 56-20 demolition of the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.

The Sharks’ bright start withered in the face of some ferocious defending from the Lions and they simply pushed the visitors ever further from the advantage line, bossing the collisions and producing the quick ball that they flourished on, displaying wonderful skills and intensity in the process.

Flyhalf Elton Jantjies put the first points on the board with a seventh-minute penalty and the woes began for the Sharks as Paul Jordaan limped off with a knee injury. They had already been forced to make a midfield change when Andre Esterhuizen failed to recover in time from the hamstring strain he picked up during the week, which meant Jordaan was playing inside centre and JP Pietersen shifted to number 13 and S’bura Sithole came on to the wing.

Heimar Williams then came on to replace Jordaan and, with Garth April appearing flustered at flyhalf, the Sharks had a severely disrupted backline, the Esterhuizen/Jordaan combination being one of their strong points this season.

But what was unforgivable was the number of basic mistakes the Sharks made in the first half, starting with scrumhalf Michael Claassens basically bailing out of taking an up-and-under, giving the Lions prime attacking position. Lionel Mapoe produced an incisive run, Jaco Kriel, as ever, was up in support and made the final pass for wing Ruan Combrinck to score the opening try in the 15th minute.

The Sharks were also poor at relieving pressure in their own territory, allowing the Lions to mount relentless attacks because their kicks were often up-and-unders instead of touchfinders, and too often they did not find touch or grass.

The second try came after an up-and-under from the base rather than a lengthy kick to clear the lines, followed by Odwa Ndungane dithering and not claiming a mark that could also have relieved the pressure. Instead the Lions piled on to attack, lock Franco Mostert powered through close to the line and eventually centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg grabbed the ball out of a maul and swiveled over the line.

On the half-hour, the jittery April kicked straight to fullback Andries Coetzee, who launched the attack and Combrinck’s little chip behind the defensive line bounced wickedly for Lwazi Mvovo, again in the north-east corner of Ellis Park, with eighthman Ruan Ackermann gathering and passing to hooker Malcolm Marx to storm over for the third try.

The Sharks were 20-0 down and then butchered the best chance they had to get on the scoreboard when Mvovo’s pace took him clear, but his pass inside to Ndungane was a bit behind the fullback and the veteran dropped the ball with the line clear ahead of him.

While the dazzling attacking play of the Lions backline gets most of the plaudits, their pack is also brilliant and they deserve the credit for the fourth try, scored on the stroke of halftime, as the forwards went on the charge, battering through the advantage line until Ackermann, one of the stars of the show as he stood in for the injured Warren Whiteley, powered over the line with two of his colleagues behind him.

Jantjies’ conversion meant the Lions would go into the break with a commanding 27-0 lead and the problems that bedevilled the Sharks did not go away in the third quarter either.

April produced an awful kick from his own 22 that did not go anywhere but straight up, leading to a penalty slotted by Jantjies, and the ball-hungry Kriel then crashed over the line in a move that again highlighted the pace and power of the Lions forwards.

At 37-0 down with 22 minutes to play, the Sharks were really just chasing pride and their replacements, especially lock Ruan Botha, added some much-needed energy.

The visitors were finally on the board in the 63rd minute, Sithole cutting through the Lions defences and some clean hands by April and replacement fullback Rhyno Smith delivered the ball to Mvovo, who stepped inside and dotted down.

Six minutes later, Botha, who announced his return from long-term injury with a compelling performance in the Ellis Park fortress, soared high to take a lineout and set up the rolling maul, from which another Sharks import, replacement hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle, scored.

That made it five tries to two and, if the Sharks had managed to score once more in the last 11 minutes it would have robbed the Lions of a well-deserved bonus point, but Johannesburg’s pride held out to ensure they will top their conference and host the city’s first SuperRugby knockout game since 2001.

Ahlers wins as 3rd visit to water not redeemable for Van Zyl 0

Posted on May 05, 2016 by Ken

A third visit to the water on the 18th hole in the playoff was not redeemable for Jaco van Zyl as Jaco Ahlers clinched the Chase to the Investec Cup final and won the lucrative R3.5 million bonus pool for the overall standings leader as well.

Van Zyl and Ahlers both shot brilliant 66s on the final day to finish on nine-under-par, one stroke ahead of Justin Harding and overnight leader George Coetzee, and had to go down the 18th three more times in the playoff before Ahlers sank a six-foot putt for par to take the biggest win of his career.

On the second playoff hole, Van Zyl staged a remarkable recovery to make par after his drive went in the water and his third shot, after dropping, found the hazard in front of the green. But an excellent chip enabled him to save par, which Ahlers could not beat as he sent his drive way left into a waste bunker and he had to lay up.

But Van Zyl astonishingly sent his third playoff drive into the same watery grave and this time his third also landed up in the water in front of the green.

Ahlers had also found the water off the tee but, hitting his third after Van Zyl’s errant approach, he took the conservative route and laid up in front of the green, before chipping on and leaving himself with a testing little six-footer for the win.

The R3.5 million bonus pool prize, plus R163 400 for winning the final, is by far the biggest paycheque ever for Ahlers, but the 32-year-old who plays out of Koro Creek Golf Estate, said he was more motivated for his third Sunshine Tour title than for the money.

“It’s amazing to win but I really haven’t had much time to think about it. I just wanted to win, I wasn’t thinking about the money, but we have just bought a house so it will come in handy,” Ahlers, a father of two, said.

It’s been a life-changing four months for Ahlers as his victory in the Cape Town Open in November earned him a place in the Nedbank Golf Challenge, where he finished in a tie for 21st and took home R1.3 million. That win in the Mother City also came in a playoff.

“I was pretty calm today. Four months ago I won a four-hole playoff to win the Cape Town Open and my first win in 2009 also came in a playoff, so that gave me confidence,” Ahlers said.

The soon-to-be George resident started the day four strokes behind Coetzee, but cashed in on a hot putter, with birdies on the third, fifth and seventh holes, as well as chipping in for eagle from the bunker on the par-five fourth.

Coetzee, meanwhile, was having an average day, having dropped a shot on the par-three fourth when he found the bunker, but birdies on the two par-fives on the front nine (4th & 7th) and another on the par-four 14th meant he was still hanging on to a share of the lead as he reached the penultimate hole.

But his drive on the tricky 450-metre par-four 17th, the toughest hole on the final day, was awful, so far left that it appeared to be heading into the Pilanesberg Game Reserve.

Coetzee miraculously found his ball in the thick bushveld, but it was totally unplayable, so he had to reload and play three off the tee, leading to a double-bogey.

The 28-year-old did make a remarkable birdie on the last, after hitting a wood out of the waste bunker just too far and running out of green, into the water behind, but it was not enough to keep his title hopes alive.

Van Zyl, meanwhile, birdied four of the last five holes to post nine-under as the clubhouse lead and, once Ahlers found the bunker off the tee on 17 to drop a shot and then could only par 18 after his approach went into the bunker behind the green, it was all about the two Jacos as they went into the playoff.

It was not all smooth sailing for Ahlers, but he made the clutch putts that mattered.

*In the Investec Cup for Ladies, Lee-Anne Pace continued her all-conquering run through the series, winning the final by eight strokes.

http://citizen.co.za/349066/ahlers-wins-as-van-zyl-perishes-in-the-water/

Elgar not bothered by former team-mates’ plans against him 0

Posted on December 09, 2014 by Ken

The Chevrolet Knights travel to Centurion today to take on the Unlimited Titans, whose key batsman Dean Elgar says he is not going to give a second thought to what plans his former team-mates might have for him when they visit SuperSport Park for their RamSlam T20 Challenge match.

That’s because the left-hander is comfortable that he has his plans in place and that was shown clearly last weekend when he opened the competition with a superb 72 off 48 balls against the Cape Cobras in the triple-header at the Wanderers. Elgar struck just two fours but cleared the boundary five times to prove what a versatile batsman he is, coach Rob Walter describing it as “a quality innings that might have surprised a few people”.

The incumbent Test opener told The Citizen yesterday though that whatever work he has done on his batting has been more mental and strategic than anything else.

“Playing the Knights is just another game for me, the Titans are my team now although I’m still friends with guys from the Knights. I don’t care about their plans against me because I’ve worked on my options and what I have in the bag should be sufficient. SuperSport Park is also usually a great batting ground, so I’m looking forward to it.

“I’m now a lot more specific with my batting in a game, I know better what is required in the different situations and I have proper game plans against the various types of bowlers. People don’t always expect me to bat like I did, because they see me as a one-format player which ticks me off,” Elgar said.

Elgar, who was the Titans’ best bowler as well with three for 20 in four overs, and fellow opener Henry Davids gave the Titans the perfect start in pursuit of a daunting 208 against the Cobras, adding 151 off just 96 balls, but they still ended up losing by 14 runs. Beating the Knights is all that matters for Elgar whatever his personal contribution.

“It’s going to be a very tough task against them, obviously, but we’ve put in a lot of hard work and talked about a few areas of our game. Those words now have to be put into practice and we have to start winning because the Titans are a brand that has always led South African cricket.

“It was nice to do well personally against the Cobras, but it didn’t mean anything because we lost, especially from the position we were in. I’d rather not perform and the team still wins,” Elgar said.

While the Titans batsmen are largely doing their bit, the bowling has been messy and they may turn to the unorthodox spin of Tabraiz Shamsi in tonight’s game.

There is a vacancy in the attack with Rowan Richards unavailable as he attends a family funeral and former SA U19 star Corbin Bosch has been added to the squad. It’s only prim and proper that he gets a look-in given the excellence of his limited-overs bowling skills.

“The bowling has been frustrating. We were poor against the Cobras despite our preparation being so specific and we had clear plans. A lot depends on the balance of the team and the surface, but there’s definitely space for the sort of bowler who can turn the ball both ways, so Shamsi is certainly in our plans,” Walter said.

The inclusion of the 24-year-old would give the Titans a powerful spin attack of Roelof van der Merwe, Elgar, Shamsi, Henry Davids and Graeme van Buuren, as well as three seamers in Ethy Mbhalati, JP de Villiers and Darren Sammy.

Just as Elgar would prefer not to be pigeon-holed as a one-dimensional batsman, he would also prefer to be considered as a package cricketer with his under-rated left-arm spin. His economy rate in 45 T20 matches is just 6.53.

“I actually think that Dean is a highly under-rated bowler, the stats show that he is a serious short-form spinner. That was a game-changing four overs from him against the Cobras and Roelof is also a master of his art, seriously skilful,” Walter said.

 

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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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