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Ken Borland


Bulls score 56 & concede 35, except this time they remain in firm control as they hammer Benetton 0

Posted on May 18, 2024 by Ken

Kurt-Lee Arendse (right) had a superb game, highlighting not just his speed and stepping ability, but also his strength. Photo: Backpage Pix

Bulls coach Jake White was delighted by his team’s attacking expertise and once again perplexed by why they allowed the opposition to score so many points, except this time his side remained in firm control of the match as they hammered Benetton Treviso 56-35 in their United Rugby Championship match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

The Bulls were often sublime with ball-in-hand, scoring nine tries, but they did concede five tries to Benetton, with the Italian side not hiding their happiness with what could be an important point for their playoff qualification hopes.

An exceptional first half-hour saw the Bulls thunder to a 26-0 lead, a precise kicking game, powerful scrum, mauling, dominance on the gainline and a slick backline all combining seamlessly. They were then 31-7 up as halftime beckoned, but they allowed Benetton to score on the hooter and then also conceded the first try of the second half as the Italians threatened to replicate what Glasgow Warriors did last week by getting back into the game at 21-31 down.

But this time the Bulls kept scoring points in the second half, crossing for four more tries while Benetton tried everything to get the four-try bonus point. Although they succeeded, the Bulls made it hard enough for them that they never looked in danger of losing.

“I’m very happy with the five points and at times we looked like the best team in the competition. But I guess the question is how did we leak five tries? I don’t think it was because of a lack of work-rate, not a system error and not due to game-understanding. I think we just do things that help the opposition into places they want to be. We almost think we can score from anywhere, maybe we should talk more about game-management or turnover-control at training,” White mused after the emphatic victory that temporarily lifted his team into second on the log.

“You need to defend well if you’re going to win championships, but you need to score points too. One constant about rugby is that the team that scores the most points always finishes near the top of the log. If we keep scoring lots of points, it means to beat us the opposition must score 50 and that creates pressure.

“But I still want us to be a tougher defensive side and not allow the opposition to score easily due to our mistakes or the situations we put ourselves in. The shape of our attack was very good, but the one thing we lack is that edge on defence, that ruthlessness that does not allow the other team to score. But I will take the opposition having to score more than 30 points to win every week of the season.

“Last week we were like deer in the headlights, there was almost panic, but this week we continued to score points. Last week it was almost as if we tried to defend the 37-10 score and it almost came back to bite us. But today we had much more control and we showed much more understanding that we needed to tighten up.

“I’m also looking for the ‘why?’. Maybe it’s because we try so hard to score great tries that maybe we create pressure for ourselves. I also think that for two weeks in a row we’ve played against teams that really wanted to score four tries. There’s no doubt Benetton needed to get something out of the game and it would have been much more difficult for them to get a bonus point by keeping us to less than an eight-point winning margin.

“So I’m not worried and there is no reason for us to go away from what is working. Hopefully the mental attitude will be there and there will be more grunt when it is a do-or-die defensive set in a knockout game. The captain [Elrigh Louw] gave his word that they will do it and I don’t doubt that they will,” White said.

The Bulls began the game with a show of force that a Chinese military display would have battled to match in terms of precision and shock-awe value. A bang-on-target kick and chase forced a knock-on inside the Benetton 22, the Bulls dominated the scrum and then won a ruck penalty. The lineout was set and then the maul, and then the ball went out to wing Canan Moodie, who snaked through the defence to score the opening try after three minutes.

The Bulls’ other wing, Kurt-Lee Arendse is diminutive and has the face of an angel, but the Springbok star showed his hard, ruthless edge as he then set up the second try and scored the third. A quick lineout taken on the halfway line was followed by Arendse making a great run down the left and then passing inside for centre David Kriel to score in the 17th minute.

Three minutes later, Arendse brilliantly won an up-and-under and, quick as a flash, scrumhalf Embrose Papier kicked over the ruck to win a marvellous 50/22. The Bulls quickly went wide from the lineout and Arendse then fought this way through four tackles to score, showing he is not just a stepper and dasher, but also a finisher of great strength.

Willie le Roux has come to Loftus Versfeld for more than a few rand, and the Springbok legend showed why as his break and mazy run, followed by a super inside-pass, sent lock Ruan Nortje galloping over for the Bulls’ fourth try.

At 26-0 down, Benetton had a mountain to climb. They had been terrible in terms of defence and discipline in the opening quarter, but they showed admirable tenacity in fighting their way back into the game through tries by wing Onisi Ratave, hooker Gianmarco Lucchesi and scrumhalf Andy Uren.

The Bulls touched the heights one more time in the first half, however, as loose forward Louw’s lovely pop-pass backwards out of contact found inside centre Harold Vorster, who knifed through the defensive line and set up the easiest of run-ins for Moodie, scoring his second try.

The way the Bulls repelled the Benetton comeback in the second half suggested a breakthrough in terms of game-management. They focused on continuing to keep the opposition in their territory with their kicking game, forcing Benetton to attack from deep.

Another good up-and-under from Papier earned a penalty for obstruction and hooker Akker van der Merwe scored from the lineout maul. Four minutes later, a long pass inside their own half went to ground in the Benetton backline, and Kriel pounced, powering away for his second try as he continues to impress in what may be a breakthrough season for the 25-year-old.

Another atypical moment of defensive softness by Benetton, one of the best defensive sides in the competition, then allowed Bulls flyhalf Johan Goosen to just run at them from a scrum, bursting through and then offloading to Kriel, who then fed Moodie out wide for a an easy run-in for his hat-trick of tries.

At 48-28 up, the Bulls made the iconoclastic decision to kick a penalty for poles and replacement flyhalf Chris Smith succeeded from long range, and although Benetton grabbed their fifth try, the Bulls had the final say. Louw surged forward from quick ball off the top of a lineout, getting into the five-metre zone; from there the Bulls just recycled the ball across the field until the opposition ran out of numbers and replacement hooker Johan Grobbelaar reached over to score.

With their electrifying backline and a pack that just swarms over the contact points, White has reason to be encouraged by the progress his team has made.

“Last season we finished seventh and now the worst we can finish this time is fourth, so we have a home quarterfinal. So there’s no doubt there’s been improvement, we still have a ticket in the knockouts so there is still hope. The challenge now is to get it right on four successive weekends,” White said.

Scorers

Bulls: Tries – Canan Moodie (3), David Kriel (2), Kurt-Lee Arendse, Ruan Nortje, Akker van der Merwe, Johan Grobbelaar. Conversions – Johan Goosen (4). Penalty – Chris Smith.

Benetton Treviso: Tries – Onisi Ratave, Gianmarco Lucchesi, Andy Uren, Toa Halafihi, Marco Zanon. Conversions – Rhyno Smith (5).

Kreuzer able to make winning birdie putt 2nd time round 0

Posted on May 13, 2024 by Ken

Helen Kreuzer was able to make the 10ft putt for birdie on the first playoff hole that she had missed shortly before in regulation play on the par-five 18th, giving the German her first professional title as she won the Fidelity ADT Ladies Challenge at the Blue Valley Golf Estate on Friday.

Kreuzer reached the 72nd hole on 12-under-par, back-to-back threes on the par-four 16th and 17th holes seeing her catch up with Tina Mazarino at the top of the leaderboard. But while the missed putt forced her to settle for par and a playoff with the Norwegian, Kreuzer was then able to take advantage of the wide fairways at the Gary Player design, and went for the green in two after a great drive, which would have pleased him.

“I hit a really good drive on the first playoff hole on 18 and decided to go for it with a three-wood. I was just off the green and I managed to get up-and-down, sinking the putt I missed for birdie during my round,” Kreuzer explained afterwards.

“It’s my first professional win so I feel amazing, the only other thing that comes close is maybe winning the national championship at college with Lynn University.”

With Mazarino producing a brilliant round of 65 to overtake those who had set the pace after the first two rounds, Kreuzer had to play at her best to catch the 23-year-old.

Kreuzer was superb on the front nine, playing in the final group with leader Ellen Hutchinson-Kay, going out in just 30 strokes. She began her round birdie-par-eagle and further birdies on the fifth, eighth and ninth holes saw her grab the lead.

But she then suffered a double setback when she bogeyed the par-four 10th and 11th holes.

“I was really on top of my game, hitting the ball close and my putter was hot. Ellen also played really well on the front nine, and it was good to be in the final group with her because that kept me going and I always felt I needed a few more birdies to get ahead of her.

“But then on 10 there was a very tough pin, I hit my approach a little long and bogey was not the end of the world there. And then on 11 a three-foot par putt just lipped out. You then have to tell yourself to stay in the moment and keep playing,” Kreuzer said.

The 25-year-old from Frankfurt certainly showed her mettle with that late pair of birdies.

“I was really excited about playing in the final group and keen to see what the day would bring. It was a great group, we had a lot of fun and all enjoyed ourselves, just taking it shot-by-shot. I was very pleased to pull through for the win. It was a big achievement, and now being able to play in the two Ladies European Tour co-sanctioned events on the Sunshine Tour is what I came for,” Kreuzer said.

While Hutchinson-Kay reached the turn on 11-under, she struggled on the back nine with bogeys on the 11th and 14th holes leaving her in third place.

Another German, Verena Gimmy, made a late charge up the leaderboard with a scintillating 64 to finish in a tie for fourth on eight-under-par with compatriot Carolin Kauffmann (69) and leading South African Kiera Floyd (68).

Pretoria Country Club’s Danielle du Toit also had an excellent final day, shooting a 66 to share seventh place on seven-under with Romy Meekers (69) and Ariane Klotz (72), who was second going into the last round.

Coach Pretorius not hitting the roof as Lions hope for sun 0

Posted on May 10, 2024 by Ken

The DP World Lions ladies team will be hoping for two days of sun and better basics as they take on the Six Gun Grill Garden Route Badgers in Johannesburg this weekend, following their disappointing trip to Durban three weeks ago.

The Lions were frustrated to have their one-day match against the Dolphins abandoned due to rain, seeing them slip to fifth in the standings, and they then suffered a 10-wicket defeat in the T20 game.

But it’s not like coach Shaun Pretorius hit the roof or anything, he knows our DP World Lions ladies are not far off from winning form. Just one win in the One-Day Cup will lift them back up to third.

“Things didn’t go according to plan in Durban, and there were small things that we can learn from; the only way you’re going to learn those lessons is on the park,” Pretorius said.

“I’m quite confident actually that if we stick to the basics and follow our game-plans, then we have got enough ability to win this weekend. There are still good things happening around the team, there’s no stress.

“If we execute in the right phases of the game, if we get a grip on the game and then hang on to it, then we are capable of a bonus point win which has a massive effect on the log. It’s about handling situations, not overthinking things. We must focus on the ball being delivered now and not look too far ahead. One ball can change the game,” Pretorius said.

They may be feeling a little blue after recent results, but Pretorius has been reminding our #PrideOfJozi of past successes and epic performances like chasing 250 twice at the DP World Wanderers Stadium before.

Our Pride will be without Chloe Tryon and Shabnim Ismail, who are in India for the IPL, and young stars Karabo Meso and Jenna Evans, who are representing South Africa at the Africa Games in Ghana.

But the DP World Lions are not about individuals, but the system, and Pretorius backs the squad for this weekend to put their hands up in the key phases of the game.

Proteas star Tazmin Brits battered a century off the Lions in their meeting in Oudtshoorn in November, but our Pride will not be overly focused on her. Besides, the DP World Lions have experienced, quality Proteas batters of their own in Kirstie Thomson, Sunette Viljoen-Louw and Nonkululeko Thabethe.

Hutchinson-Kay recovers from rollercoaster front nine to claim outright lead 0

Posted on May 10, 2024 by Ken

Sweden’s Ellen Hutchinson-Kay recovered from a rollercoaster front nine to come home in bogey-free three-under and claim the outright lead after the second round of the Fidelity ADT Ladies Challenge at the Blue Valley Golf Estate on Thursday.

Hutchinson-Kay, a product of the American College system, graduating from the University of Mississippi, shot a wonderful five-under-par 67 in the penultimate round to move to nine-under-par overall, two shots ahead of Frenchwoman Ariane Klotz.

The 25-year-old Hutchinson-Kay had a dramatic opening nine holes with a bogey, a double-bogey, three birdies and an eagle to reach the turn on two-under. But she showed her temperament with back-to-back birdies on the 13th and 14th, and then a birdie on the par-five 15th to ensure the lead was her’s alone. After the first round, Hutchinson-Kay shared top spot on four-under-par with England’s Georgia Coughlin and South African Kiera Floyd.

Hutchinson-Kay dropped her first shot on the par-three second, but then went racing into the lead with a run of birdie-birdie-eagle, making a three on the par-five fifth. But the 344m par-four seventh then proved her downfall as she made double-bogey.

Once again she bounced back, however, with a birdie on the par-three eighth and it was smooth sailing thereafter for a golfer who is taking her first steps into European golf and is in her first full year as a professional.

Coughlin endured an even more hellish time, going out in 40 with five bogeys and a lone birdie on the third, and things were no better coming home as she signed for an 80 with three more bogeys and a double on the par-four 14th. Not even a birdie at the last could save her from missing the cut.

Klotz dominated the Gary Player design, also shooting 67 and not dropping a shot in a superb display of controlled golf. Germany’s Helen Kreuzer was in third place a shot further back on six-under, after a 68 that had just one bogey, on the par-four 16th.

Germany’s Carolin Kauffmann (70) and Norwegian Tina Mazarino (68) shared fourth place on five-under-par.

Floyd went out in 34 despite making two bogeys, but she slipped down the leaderboard with three drops on the back nine, before a birdie at the last lifted her to four-under, in a tie for sixth with consistent Dutchwoman Romy Meekers and the other leading South African, Stacy Bregman (70).

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    “Every disciple of Jesus has a capacity for love. The most effective way to serve the Master is to share his love with others. Love can comfort, save the lost, and offer hope to those who need it. It can break down barriers, build bridges, establish relationships and heal wounds.” – A Shelter From The Storm, Solly Ozrovech

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