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Ken Borland


Reto starts like a fish out of water, but then all goes swimmingly 0

Posted on April 09, 2024 by Ken

SUN CITY, North-West – United States-based South African Paula Reto may have looked a bit like a fish out of water when she bogeyed the second and third holes on the second day of the SuperSport Ladies Challenge presented by Sun International on Thursday, but the rest of her round at the Lost City Golf Club then went swimmingly as she claimed a share of the lead.

Reto went on a run of five birdies in six holes from the fifth hole, and then added back-to-back birdies on the 13th and 14th holes, before returning from a lightning break with another gain on the 17th. Her superb six-under-par 66 lifted her to eight-under overall and she will go into the final round tied for the lead with India’s Tvesa Malik, who fired a stunning 65.

The 33-year-old Reto won this tournament in 2022, but it was then played at the Gary Player Country Club. But after a tough 2023 campaign on the LPGA Tour, Reto is in a good frame of mind back in her home country, and it showed in her ability to bounce back from two early setbacks on Thursday.

“I don’t know what happened really, I hit a bad tee-shot on the second and suddenly I’d gone bogey-bogey. I just said to myself that I must give myself opportunities and fortunately I then managed to get the ball close to the hole a few times, and chipped in on the eighth, which is always nice for your momentum,” Reto said.

“Lost City is completely different to the GPCC, you have to strategise more off the tees, it’s a course that requires more thinking. To be able to bounce back after those two bogeys felt really good and I was very happy that I kept to the plan. I was able to stay on plan and not let the bogeys get to me.

“Last year was tough because I struggled with my swing a bit and I couldn’t string four good rounds together. It starts to take a toll on your confidence and you start to try and change so much all at once.

“So at the start of this year I just tried to hone in on a few things, make sure I do those basics well. I’m happy with where my game is heading and I just love coming back here to South Africa, being with my family and feeling a bit like I’m on vacation,” Reto said.

Getting married on December 29 to fellow Indian professional golfer Ajeetesh Sandhu certainly seems to have bear fruit for Malik as she produced an outstanding, bogey-free round with four birdies on the back nine and then three on the front.

First-round leader Lauren Taylor shot a 70 on Thursday to move to six-under-par, two off the lead, while exciting South African youngster Gabrielle Venter shot 68 on Thursday to move to five-under.

‘New Bulls’ march into quarterfinals by thumping Olympique Lyon 0

Posted on April 06, 2024 by Ken

The Bulls marched into the quarterfinals of the Champions Cup on Saturday with a thumping 59-19 win over Olympique Lyon at Loftus Versfeld, and it was the ‘New Bulls’ who did it, playing with wonderful attacking spark and really keeping the ball alive.

The traditional way of winning knockout games for the Bulls has been through subduing the opposition through power – using their physicality to dominate the gainline, scrum and maul to win penalties and then play off a traditionally brilliant lineout.

But on Saturday, kicking off at 1.30pm at altitude on a sunny day, they used the conditions to their advantage and unlocked the ball-playing, attacking skills that are also prevalent in their squad. Make no mistake, the physicality was still there, bossing the gainline and using aggressive defence to force turnovers, which they were impressive in turning into attacking opportunities.

The Bulls scored nine tries and the inventiveness and skill of the backline was marvellous to behold, even if at times some over-ambitious play led to the match being scrappy.

“We scored some outstanding tries and we’ve seen the Bulls go from a scrumming and mauling team to the type of rugby we played today,” coach Jake White said. “I’m very pleased that we are able to interchange the way we play, today we used playing on the Highveld and the playing surface to our advantage.

“We wanted to move them around and the French teams do tend to play scrappy rugby, but we also wanted to do it with control, use the altitude and their travel against them. There probably were times when we were a bit too loose.

“But we did what Leinster did to us last weekend and that’s go up a gear in the second half, we definitely replicated that. Sometimes we kicked the ball away too much in the first half, but in the second half you see the tries we scored because we kept the ball in hand. That try from our own line, where practically everyone touched the ball and we scored under the poles, was probably the try of the season and it showed we can play in different ways,” White said.

New talent was also to the fore with wing Sebastian de Klerk scoring twice, 21-year-old Reinhardt Ludwig having a strong game at blindside flank and 19-year-old JF van Heerden starting with aplomb at lock, Ruan Nortje being pulled 10 minutes before the start due to injury.

The 54th-minute try the Bulls scored to stretch their lead to 38-14 was probably the finished article in terms of how White wanted his team to play in favourable conditions.

Eighthman Elrigh Louw ran from his own five-metre line, Kurt-Lee Arendse typically provided a proper counter-attacking spark, there was great support from replacement hooker Akker van der Merwe, props Mornay Smith and Gerhard Steenekamp were involved too, there was a strong run from Ludwig and then scrumhalf Embrose Papier rounded off.

Despite the emphatic win, White said the Bulls, as a team, are not the finished article just yet.

“Last season we were knocked over away from home by Toulouse in the last 16, and then a year later we are hosting that game, which is already an improvement, and we won so now we’ve reached another level: the top eight.

“I’m very happy and proud, but I’m also fully aware what sort of teams have won this competition. If we play the top team in England next – Northampton Saints – then it will be there at 8pm, it might be rainy and cold, very different to the sun shining at Loftus at 1.30pm.

“But it’s teams that can adapt that win this competition. We are not there yet and I’m not saying we have the recipe. It’s a learning and growing path and the quicker we complete it the better,” White said.

Scorers

Bulls – Tries: Sebastian de Klerk (2), Embrose Papier (2), Marcell Coetzee, Ruan Vermaak, Willie le Roux, David Kriel, Chris Smith. Conversions: Johan Goosen (5), Smith (2).

Olympique Lyon – Tries: Martin Page-Relo, penalty try, Thaakir Abrahams. Conversion: Paddy Jackson.

Taylor focuses on first & foremost being herself in 1st round, & finishes in 1st place 0

Posted on April 05, 2024 by Ken

SUN CITY, North-West – England’s Lauren Taylor concentrated on first and foremost just being herself in the opening round of the SuperSport Ladies Challenge presented by Sun International at the Lost City Golf Course on Wednesday, and it paid off as she finished in first place on the leaderboard.

Taylor fired a four-under-par 68 to enjoy a one-stroke lead over Vanessa Knecht, Ana Dawson, Pasqualle Coffa and leading South African Kaleigh Telfer.

The 29-year-old Taylor played the back nine at Lost City first, and made the perfect start with birdies on the first three holes and another on the 15th. A bogey-birdie finish to the back nine saw Taylor go out in 32, and she then came home in level-par thanks to a birdie on the ninth making up for a bogey on the par-five seventh.

“I was just trying to be myself out there and take it hole by hole,” Taylor said. “It was a good day. I made a hot start, it’s always nice to get three birdies first up, so then I just tried to keep being aggressive.

“All parts of my game were pretty good, but the best part was that I hit every fairway. My irons were also good and that’s always a good combo which will always give you chances. So I was hitting good shots and making birdies.

“I still gave myself some chances on the front nine but I just didn’t hole the putts. But I was very happy to finish with a birdie. I was feeling confident after a good week at Fancourt in the Dimension Data Pro-Am, but anything can happen in golf and you never know how it’s going to be on the day,” Taylor said.

The in-form Dawson, who led for most of the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am before eventually finishing tied-third, continued her fine form, her 69 including just one bogey – on the par-three 13th.

Telfer, who enjoyed an excellent Sunshine Ladies Tour campaign last year, posted five birdies with two bogeys to position herself just behind the leader.

Two South Africans – 2022 champion Paula Reto and amateur Isabella Ferreira, were two strokes back after shooting 70s, along with Romy Meekers of the Netherlands and Sweden’s Ellen Hutchinson-Key.

Ferreira also started on the back nine and reached the turn on one-over-par, but she was excellent on the front nine, collecting three birdies.

Only human for Maphaka to feel pressure of expectation, but instead he flourished 0

Posted on April 05, 2024 by Ken

Expectation can be an unkind burden for young cricketers and it would only have been human for Kwena Maphaka to feel the pressure during the ICC U19 World Cup hosted by South Africa. But instead the DP World Lions rising star showed his mettle by flourishing and enjoying a spectacular tournament.

The St Stithians pupil was named the Player of the Tournament for his 21 wickets, just one short of the all-time record at the event. Bangladesh spinner Enamul Haque took 22 wickets in 2004, but one record Maphaka did claim for himself was for three five-wicket hauls in a single edition of the U19 World Cup, which no-one had managed before.

He is the fourth South African to receive the honour, the first being current DP World Lions men’s captain Dominic Hendricks in 2010. Aiden Markram (2014) and Dewald Brevis (2022) are the others to bring the individual title back to Mzansi.

Left-arm fast bowler Maphaka is a prodigy, of that there is no doubt, and the 17-year-old was playing in his second junior world cup. He first played for the St Stithians first XI in Grade IX, so he has had to deal with expectation from a very young age.

“I’ve learnt how to deal with it quite well, there is always expectation. It’s getting higher as I get older, but I’m just trying to grow as a cricketer at the same pace,” Maphaka says.

“On a personal level I was quite happy with the tournament, but it was unfortunate that we did not go through from the semifinals and win as a team. But that’s cricket.

“I guess I just hit a run of form and when you’re in that purple patch you feel confident and that there’s not much that can stop you. The games were all so close together and I was in good mental places, so I just ran with it,” Maphaka says.

Having fulfilled his considerable potential at junior level, the matric student will be prioritising his academics in 2024, but he is already part of the DP World Lions men’s squad. He made his debut for them on November 30 at St George’s Park, taking four wickets in the match against the Warriors. He had already made his first-class debut back in June last year when he was fast-tracked into the SA A team in Sri Lanka by Test coach Shukri Conrad.

Maphaka is sure to still pop up from time-to-time this year as he begins to transition into senior cricket.

“This year my first priority is to pass matric, so my focus will be on school, that’s my main goal. From next year onwards I can focus on domestic cricket and I hope to make my name with the DP World Lions. Then maybe in a couple of years I will be fortunate enough to represent the Proteas,” Maphaka says.

By then he could quite possibly be running the joint, just like his predecessor at St Stithians and the DP World Lions, the great Kagiso Rabada.

DP World Lions bowling coach Allan Donald sees some similarities between Maphaka and Rabada, who he coached in his first few months at international level with the Proteas.

“You get these youngsters who you just absolutely know have got it and they’ve got the jewels to go the whole way, like KG. The first time I saw Kwena I could see he had everything – he’s fit, strong and athletic; he has a good action and a magnificent wrist.

“We saw in the U19 World Cup that he was bowling late-inswinging full balls to the right-handers, knocking over the stumps at pace. He has all the credentials to be a wonderful prospect. Every now and then you get a freakish cricketer and Kwena is one of those.

“It’s a privilege to be involved with him and I look forward to him joining us full-time when he’s finished school. He is just a gem and the world is at his feet,” Donald said.

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    John 15:16 – “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”

    Our Christian experience begins when the Holy Spirit starts working in our imperfect lives. An inexplicable restlessness and a feeling that nothing can give you the satisfaction you yearn for, could be the Spirit working in you.

    Even when God calls you and chooses you to serve him, there may be inner conflict and confusion because you are not always willing to do what God is asking of you.

    But this inner struggle is part of spiritual life … Commit yourself to God and open yourself to the inflowing of the Holy Spirit.

    It is by great grace that you were chosen by God to serve him and to live to the honour and glory of his name. Surrender unconditionally to the Lord and you will discover that your life gains new meaning and purpose.



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