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Ken Borland



Bulls earn credit, but still lose 0

Posted on April 01, 2017 by Ken

 

The Bulls will earn deserved credit for their improvement, but the end result was still the same as they went down 28-12 to the Chiefs in a bonus point defeat in their SuperRugby match in Hamilton on Saturday.

A superb first-half display by the Bulls in which intensity crackled through everything they did – in attack they were direct and handled superbly, while their defence was physical and uncompromising – saw them claim a deserved 9-3 lead at the break.

But the Chiefs showed their class as they stayed composed and were able to pull away from the 50-minute mark, scoring three tries in an ultimately impressive victory.

The Chiefs had a terrible time in the first half trying to contain superb Bulls inside centre Burger Odendaal, who led the visitors’ resurgence with some powerful ball-carries and excellent midfield defence. It led to the home side having missed an awful 15 tackles by halftime.

But the Bulls just lacked the attacking incisiveness to convert their gains into points on the scoreboard.

When centre Jan Serfontein went inside instead of pinning his ears back on the outside following some storming runs by Odendaal in the fourth minute, it was one of many moments when the Bulls were left wondering what might have been.

The Chiefs had been caught offsides in the build-up, however, and flyhalf Handre Pollard was at least able to kick a penalty for an early 3-0 lead.

More superb carries and direct running by the Bulls, and a determined rumble forward by prop Trevor Nyakane, led to another Pollard penalty in the 10th minute, but the Chiefs dominated the first scrum four minutes later, earning a penalty kicked by flyhalf Aaron Cruden (3-6).

But the Bulls had the final say in the first half as the Chiefs tried to run the ball out of their own 22 after conceding a free kick, but were turned over, allowing the Bulls to string several phases together and earn another Pollard penalty for not releasing at the ruck.

But the tide began to turn in the 51st minute as wing Jamba Ulengo suffered another horrible moment in defence, wing Shaun Stevenson leaving him flatfooted as the Chiefs attacked off a lineout, and then grubbering through and regathering the ball for the first try of the match. Cruden converted to give the Chiefs a 10-9 lead.

That was quickly stretched to 13-9 with another Cruden penalty after Bulls captain Adriaan Strauss stupidly went off his feet at a ruck in front of his own poles, but the visitors had a stroke of luck in the 62nd minute when a dominant Chiefs scrum was penalised for illegal wheeling, Pollard’s long-range penalty closing the gap to one point (12-13).

But it was all the Chiefs in the final 15 minutes as the Bulls suffered another late-game fade.

The Bulls lost a four-man lineout in their own 22 but a superb tackle by lock RG Snyman prevented fullback Damian McKenzie from knifing through to score. But an earlier infringement allowed Cruden to kick a penalty and stretch the lead back to 16-12.

A lovely 71st-minute move from a scrum saw scrumhalf Tawera Kerr-Barlow running at the line before putting a grubber through that McKenzie raced on to and dotted down.

Another slick backline move with two minutes remaining saw different angles of running and McKenzie bursting through, before replacement prop Atunaisa Moli charged through and reached over the line for the bonus point try.

The scrums were hard-fought transactions, but they did allow the Chiefs to release some of the pressure on them as they had the edge in that set-piece. Nyakane’s move to tighthead was again a talking point.

Lock Lood de Jager was a hardworking – if not always accurate – member of the pack, with partner Snyman also shining, while Jannes Kirsten came off the bench after 20 minutes to replace eighthman Arno Botha and made his presence felt. He should be in the starting line-up next week.

Jesse Kriel was impressive at fullback and halfbacks Rudy Paige and Pollard were on the same page.

But while the Bulls were much-improved, being gutsy losers is not a tag they or their supporters will take kindly to.

Scorers

ChiefsTries: Shaun Stevenson, Damian McKenzie, Atunaisa Moli. Conversions: Aaron Cruden (2). Penalties: Cruden (3).

BullsPenalties: Handre Pollard (4).

A single miss costs the Sharks 0

Posted on February 27, 2017 by Ken

 

A single miss in an otherwise top-class kicking display by Pat Lambie cost the Sharks victory as they went down 26-28 to the Reds in their opening SuperRugby match in Brisbane on Friday.

Lambie missed a penalty three minutes from full-time that would have snatched a fortuitous victory, given that a Reds team that played with 14 men for 20 minutes outscored them by four tries to two.

With Lambie earlier kicking six-from-six, the Sharks enjoyed a 26-18 lead with 16 minutes remaining, but a poor finish to the game saw them concede two tries.

The Sharks made a great start with a try in the second minute when the Reds were throwing passes around and flyhalf Quade Cooper dropped the ball, outside centre Lukhanyo Am pounced and a quick interchange with wing Kobus van Wyk then put flank Jean-Luc du Preez away to storm over the tryline.

Lambie’s conversion made it 7-0, but the Sharks were unable to threaten the Reds’ tryline again in the first half, largely because they had to make do with a tiny proportion of possession, their failure to hang on to the ball for long periods meaning they had to do most of the defending.

Cooper and Lambie traded two penalties each to make the score 13-6 at the half-hour, but Van Wyk then turned village idiot and tried to take a quick lineout inside his own 22, an isolated Curwin Bosch conceding a scrum. The Reds forwards drove strongly and eighthman Scott Higginbotham dotted down through the pile of bodies for the home side’s opening try, Cooper’s conversion levelling the scores at 13-13.

Lambie snuck a penalty in the last-minute of the first half, thanks to lock Ruan Botha twice putting great pressure on Reds scrumhalf Nick Frisby, for the Sharks to lead 16-13 at the break, and the visitors showed hitherto unseen control in the opening exchanges of the second half, dominating territory and hanging on to the ball much better.

Lambie succeeded with a 43rd-minute penalty to stretch the lead to 19-13, but Queensland centre Samu Kerevi struck back with the first of his two tries six minutes later.

Running with great power and awareness, he burst through a gap between scrumhalf Cobus Reinach and Am, to score after the Reds chose a scrum under the shadow of the poles instead of a kick at goal. Cooper failed with an easy conversion attempt, which allowed the Sharks to hang on to a slender one-point lead.

With referee Nick Briant suddenly remembering that there is no tolerance for neck-tackles this season, Reds lock Kane Douglas was yellow-carded for pulling at Beast Mtawarira’s neck in the 57th minute.

With a lot of the Reds muscle gone, the Sharks understandably went for rolling mauls when awarded penalties, but there was no accuracy in their first couple of attempts, but eventually eighthman Tera Mtembu rumbled over in the 61st minute after the Queenslanders disintegrated.

Lambie converted for a 26-18 lead, but they were to score no further points as they seemed to lack a clear plan in the final quarter.

Kerevi is a particular threat in this Reds side and he muscled over from close range again in the 64th minute, but the killer blow was landed by his midfield partner Duncan Paia’aua, who ran an excellent line back inside, cutting straight through before replacement scrumhalf James Tuttle finished strongly.

The result was a sharp reminder to the Sharks of the accuracy that is required to win overseas – they simply made too many errors in discipline and decision-making, although a losing bonus point was some reward for the competitiveness they showed.

Mtawarira was full of energy in the front row, Du Preez was a force with ball-in-hand and Am was exciting at times in the backline, but the overall Sharks performance was not good enough to earn victory.

Scorers

RedsTries: Scott Higginbotham, Samu Kerevi (2), James Tuttle. Conversion: Quade Cooper. Penalties: Cooper (2).

SharksTries: Jean-Luc du Preez, Tera Mtembu. Conversions: Pat Lambie (2). Penalties: Lambie (4).

http://citizen.co.za/sport/sport-rugby/1438777/clumsy-sharks-fluff-their-lines-at-vital-moments/

Sharks pay the price for turnovers 0

Posted on June 22, 2016 by Ken

The Cell C Sharks paid the price for a steady stream of turnovers at the ruck and poor goalkicking as they went down 10-17 to the Vodacom Bulls in their SuperRugby match at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday.

The Bulls were strong favourites against a Sharks team in turmoil and coming off two successive losses, but the home side pushed them all the way with a gutsy effort, but one which lacked the skill and polish needed to beat a well-drilled visiting team.

The prime reason for the Sharks’ defeat was their failure to look after the ball at the rucks, with the Bulls winning 13 turnovers, successfully preventing the home side from getting any attacking momentum.

The Bulls dominated territory from the start, looking the more likely team to score first as they took the ball through a number of phases inside the Sharks’ 22, but the brilliant defence of the Sharks denied them and showed that there is obviously no lack of effort on their part, despite their losing run.

The inconsistent boot of flyhalf Fred Zeilinga provided the first points of the match in the 17th minute, as he kicked a penalty, flank Deon Stegmann’s fractionally early tackle on the flyhalf after scrumhalf Cobus Reinach burst through a gap and offloaded to him having been spotted due to the intervention of the TMO, Marius Jonker.

Zeilinga missed a second shot at goal for the Sharks in the 25th minute before Handre Pollard, making his first appearance for the Bulls this month, levelled the scores with a 30th-minute penalty after another returning Springbok, Jannie du Plessis, had been penalised for illegal binding, a regular problem for the tighthead prop.

The Bulls looked on the verge of taking total control when they scored four minutes before halftime through wing Francois Hougaard.

Scrumhalf Rudi Paige, who is becoming a real general for the Bulls with the way he controls the game with excellent decision-making and efficient service, combined with Hougaard down the right wing, destroying the Sharks’ defence with a brilliant interchange of passes.

The Bulls led 8-3 at the break as Pollard’s conversion came off the post, but the Sharks grabbed the lead just two minutes into the second half with a fine try of their own.

Reinach is a different sort of scrumhalf to Paige, being a model of attacking opportunism, and it was his break that was rounded off in clinical fashion as replacement prop Lourens Adriaanse supported well and hard-working flank Marcell Coetzee stormed over for the try.

Zeilinga converted to give the Sharks a 10-8 lead, but that only lasted three minutes as a Pollard penalty put the home side 10-11 behind.

Both flyhalves then deposited penalties wide of the mark, but Pollard stretched the lead to 14-11 in the 67th-minute as the Bulls were once again able to get more numbers to the breakdown and Coetzee was beaten by the ruck as he tried to steal the ball.

Pollard finally burst the determined Sharks’ balloon with a 73rd-minute penalty, once again stemming from a ruck and an isolated player holding on to the ball.

The Sharks were pressing hard inside the Bulls’ 22 in the closing minutes in search of the equalising try, but the ball was once again turned over and the Bulls cleared the danger.

The victory leaves the Bulls at the top of the South African Conference and second on the overall log, and the simple effectiveness of their game plan, when executed with the passion and accuracy they showed against the Sharks, is marking them out as the favourites, along with the Stormers, to make the playoffs.

Scorers:

Sharks – Try: Marcell Coetzee. Conversion: Fred Zeilinga. Penalty: Zeilinga.

Bulls – Try: Francois Hougaard. Penalties: Handre Pollard (4).

http://citizen.co.za/365504/sharks-pay-the-price-for-turnovers/

Cheetahs go down in flames, but can still rise from the ashes 0

Posted on May 19, 2016 by Ken

 

The Cheetahs went down in flames against the Stormers at Newlands, but their playoff hopes are still alive thanks to the Sharks rising from the ashes to snatch victory from the Blues in Durban.

Meanwhile, the Bulls maintained their hot form by hammering the Southern Kings in Pretoria with a bonus point, thereby ensuring that they will be the South African conference winners.

The Cheetahs seemed to have the greater motivation heading into their match at Newlands, with an historic first playoff place beckoning, but it was the realistically out-of-contention Stormers who brought the fire as they registered a thumping 28-3 win.

That fire was lit by their forwards, who fronted up impressively, producing a brick wall in defence, dominating the collisions and the set pieces and closing down the space and time the Cheetahs had on the ball.

The Stormers could be accused of stopping the Cheetahs from playing in a dreary first half, which ended with the hosts 10-3 up thanks to a try by flank Deon Fourie from a rolling maul shortly before the break.

But they counter-attacked well in the second half, squeezing the Cheetahs and then pouncing on the mistakes as they picked up two more tries by the indefatigable Siya Kolisi and Bryan Habana.

Kolisi’s 66th-minute try stretched the lead to 23-3 and it came after yet another messy Cheetahs lineout led to the loose ball being kicked through into the 22 by the Stormers. Fourie was then up quickly to force Raymond Rhule to concede the five-metre scrum, a solid platform allowing flyhalf Elton Jantjies to produce a lovely inside step, scrumhalf Louis Schreuder then ran crossfield to fix the defence and the in-form new Springbok flank came crashing through on a tremendous angle.

Poorly directed kicks and handling errors – many of them by Rhule – were central to the Cheetahs’s demise and Habana’s try came after the visitors were enjoying some rare front-foot ball and were hard on attack before the Ghanaian-born wing again dropped the ball and centre Juan de Jongh and eighth man Nizaam Carr broke clear. From the resulting ruck, inside centre Damian de Allende drew the last two defenders before sending Habana diving over in the corner.

One can forgive the Cheetahs for having an off-day after all their heroics this season and captain Adriaan Strauss described it as “our shocker of the year”. But what was perplexing was why the Cheetahs suddenly decided to kick so much – and poorly at that.

Fullback Willie le Roux kicked 10 times and ran the ball on just eight occasions, which must have killed his many fans who see him as the saviour of South African backline play.

In contrast, Stormers fullback Joe Pietersen was lethal whenever he kicked and the ubiquitous efforts of the loose trio of Kolisi, Fourie and Carr epitomised the never-say-die spirit of the home side, who really are playing for pride.

The Sharks, despite being a camp in turmoil after the sacking of coach John Plumtree as incoming CEO John Smit’s first act, were in firm control of their match against the Blues in the first half in Durban.

They were 14-0 up on the half-hour and 17-5 ahead at the break, but their lead should have been even greater given the absolute dominance their forwards enjoyed in the set pieces, especially the scrums.

That lack of finishing – in particular Pat Lambie’s errant goal-kicking that cost them 14 points – came back to haunt them in the second half as the Blues fought back strongly.

The Aucklanders actually led 20-17 going into the final minute, but the Sharks summoned the energy, composure and skill to score on the hooter through fullback Riaan Viljoen and snatch a 22-20 victory.

Stand-in coach Grant Bashford, who is also probably on his way out, revealed that the Sharks team had committed themselves to winning at any cost in protest against the treatment of Plumtree, who was rapidly purged over the June international break.

The forward effort by the Sharks was spectacular as they overwhelmed the Blues in the scrums, earning half-a-dozen penalties from that set-piece alone, won all 17 of their lineouts and consistently carried the ball over the advantage line through the likes of Marcell Coetzee, Jean Deysel, Willem Alberts and Tendai Mtawarira.

The Sharks did sometimes battle to create enough space for lively Transkei-born wings Odwa Ndungane and Lwazi Mvovo, but considering seven centres are out injured and Butch James and Louis Ludik were teaming up in midfield for the first time this year, that is understandable.

While the Sharks front row were the destroyers of the Blues, it was the improvement shown by the Bulls front row that was perhaps the most impressive feature of their 48-18, bonus point win over the Southern Kings in Pretoria.

Loftus Versfeld has been a church of strong forward play, especially scrummaging, throughout the union’s 75 years and the flaky performances of the Bulls front row this year has no doubt been a cause of great concern for all those Northern Transvaal stalwarts in the stands.

But apart from the third quarter, the Bulls dominated the scrums, which allowed their bullocking ball-carriers to commit even more violence against the battered Kings defence.

The Kings never threatened the South African SuperRugby pace-setters and director of rugby Alan Solomons confirmed that they were badly off their game after the June break.

“The set piece, defence and conditioning are the three pillars of our game and two of those were very poor tonight. The error rate was also through the roof and some of that was due to not playing for a month. A break that long for a team of this inexperience is massive,” Solomons said.

But the Kings did give full credit to the Bulls, describing them as a team “very capable of winning the tournament” and the home side’s ability to get quick ball from the breakdowns and to pounce on the slightest errors in defence was most impressive.

The Kings, who have officially now been consigned to the promotion/relegation games, contrived to make it easier for the Bulls with some uncharacteristically poor defence around the rucks and, when the Bulls scored three tries in five minutes around the half-hour mark to take control of the game, two of those were through Chiliboy Ralepelle and Francois Hougaard simply picking up the ball at a ruck and strolling straight through a gaping hole on the fringes.

But when you throw in the combative midfield running of centres Jan Serfontein and JJ Engelbrecht to the impetus created by the forwards – Jacques Potgieter and Ralepelle shining in this regard on Saturday night – then it’s little wonder defences start fracturing.

http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-07-01-superrugby-bulls-marching-on/#.Vz2myfl97IU

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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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