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Ken Borland



A simple calculation for WP: Forward might is right 0

Posted on October 28, 2017 by Ken

 

It may not be a straightforward calculation to measure the exact amount of momentum Western Province gained from their pack in the Currie Cup final against the Sharks in Durban on Saturday, but it was simple as anything to work out that it was the visiting forwards who played the key role in their convincing 33-21 victory.

At practically every scrum, the Sharks were going backwards, and even on the one occasion they got the shove on Western Province, it still ended in a try for the visitors as eighthman Nizaam Carr broke blind and set up fellow loose forward Cobus Wiese for the try.

Western Province were also dominant on the gain-line, meeting a Sharks pack, that has powered through most other opposition this season, head-on in a brutal battle.

Western Province flyhalf Robert du Preez was a composed general behind this juggernaut pack, while opposite number Curwin Bosch lost his cool, being exposed defensively and only succeeding with 50% of his kicks at goal.

It took a while for the Western Province ace to be reflected on the scoreboard though, with the Sharks thriving in the first half as they capitalised on soft mistakes by the visitors to run up a 21-10 lead that lasted until the final moments before the break.

The Sharks were tied down in their 22 as the final hooter went and, even though Carr was held up over the line by Garth April, a five-metre scrum resulted in concerted pressure, and eventually wing Kobus van Wyk rushed out of the defensive line, allowing opposite number Dillyn Leyds to go over in the corner.

From that point on, the Sharks were on the back foot; pushed back on the gain-line, unable to get their hands on the ball and condemned to playing in the wrong areas of the field by the tactical nous of on-song flyhalf Robert du Preez.

Wiese’s 51st-minute try brought Western Province practically back on level terms and they took the lead for the first and final time when Bosch went high on wing Seabela Senatla, who brushed him off and was able to offload to centre Huw Jones, who skipped past a few defenders on his way to the tryline.

Western Province then relied on the boot of Du Preez to close out the game and they can justifiably feel proud by how they finished the season as thoroughly convincing champions, having been underwhelming in the opening half of the competition.

No team can expect to win a final with their pack being so badly beaten, but the Sharks certainly made a good fist of it for the first 35 minutes.

Despite being shoved off the ball in the opening scrum to concede a tighthead, it all started so positively for the Sharks with centre Marius Louw slicing through the Western Province defence like a can-opener to set up Odwa Ndungane, in his 251st and last game for the Sharks, with a dream try.

But glory can turn into humiliation very quickly in finals and Jones then stepped inside an on-rushing Ndungane for Western Province’s opening try just four minutes later. The Sharks will be more disappointed that they conceded a five-metre scrum, from which the try came, through players just being in the wrong place at the wrong time at a ruck, resulting in accidental offsides.

Eighthman Daniel du Preez then muscled his way over in the 18th minute, but it would end up as a bad day for the twins as Jean-Luc had to be helped off the field moments later with an ankle injury, and Daniel would be yellow-carded late in the second half for tackling a player off the ball.

Having their most physical forward excluded from the gain-line battle certainly didn’t help the Sharks, but to be fair, Western Province were already dominating the scrums and had kept Jean-Luc in check up until his departure.

The home crowd would have hoped the phenomenal long-range drop goal Bosch fired over off a retreating scrum would mean the youngster was settling into the game, but unfortunately the pressure was inexorably transferred on to him and the Springbok hopeful did not handle it well.

The game-management of Robert du Preez was outstanding, though, and the other chief heroes for Western Province in a fine all-round display were Wilco Louw, the player of the match for the way he provided the foundation for the huge scrummaging display that laid the platform for victory; Jones, the Scotsman who brought tremendous physical presence and great feet to the midfield, and Carr, the workhorse of the team.

The Western Province front row, with Bongi Mbonambi and JC Janse van Rensburg providing powerful support to Louw, is where the victory had its starting point though.

 

Former players’ SuperRugby predictions 0

Posted on July 28, 2015 by Ken

 

How will SuperRugby work out? I spoke to some former players who gave their views on what shape the various franchises are in and what they need to work on …

 

Butch James (2007 World Cup winner, former Sharks & Lions flyhalf)

I always hope the Sharks do well and hopefully they can go one step further this year. It will be interesting to see Pieter-Steph du Toit back and I think he’ll have a big season.

I think when Pat Lambie spoke about not worrying about scoring tries, he was playing it down because everyone seems to be on that course. So he’s trying to take the pressure off the team, but if they can put some tries on the scoreboard then they have a good chance of winning the competition. They’re not going to play a kicking game. Every team will try and score tries, the Bulls also want to do that.

The Sharks have brilliant forwards, a great pack, but I see some difficulties in the backs. I hope numbers nine-to-15 stay injury free this year because that’s what let us down last season.

 

Marius Hurter (1995 World Cup winner, former Bulls & Lions prop)

In our conference I’m backing the Sharks and Bulls to do well. The Bulls are due some luck, they’ve been through some hard times but I think Frans Ludeke is getting the squad fired up this year.

The Sharks are always a good outfit and they’re consistent as well.

The Bulls’ scrum is a worry, us Bulls always pride ourselves on that and I hope they sort it out. It’s just little things, but the scrum gives you a tactical advantage and it has a psychological effect as well. If you’re doing badly in the scrums then all your plays, all your attack, defence, is on the back foot. That piles up and it has a snowball effect. Lineouts, scrums, rucks is what Bulls rugby is about, and they just need to adapt to the laws and the referees.

But the Bulls have got the squad, it’s just a few technical things to sort out and gelling as a team.

 

John Slade (played over a hundred games for the Sharks at lock during the halcyon 1990s)

John Smit has brought something different to the Sharks and made some really good changes, so I’m very positive about their chances. Even last year they were very good, but then stumbled at the last hurdle in a very tough competition.

Gary Gold is a very good coach, Brendan Venter is a master craftsman, so the structure’s in place, they have the players and they’ve brought some extra players in like Mouritz Botha, Jean Deysel and Michael Claassens because what you need is depth.

It’s also a very happy squad and that flows on to the field and winning comes naturally. It’s very important that there’s no discontent, because that leads to trouble.

 

Joel Stransky (1995 World Cup winner, former Northern Transvaal, Sharks & Western Province flyhalf)

The Bulls have got some injured players back and they’ve said up front that they want to play with more freedom, but can they sustain that in pressure situations? The way they play has been a bit disappointing in the past and hopefully they use the ball a bit more this season.

The Sharks have a blend of youth and experience and they’re going to be a real force, while the Stormers tend to be hot and cold, they need to be more consistent. The Cheetahs are by far our weakest franchise, while the Lions are an unknown quantity. They have no real stars, but a wonderful game plan, they give it a full go, they’re committed and gutsy. But how long can they sustain that? In the end injuries will decide whether they have a mixed bag of results or not.

 

 



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