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Ken Borland


Highs & lows of 2022: The shock wins & humiliating defeats

Posted on August 29, 2023 by Ken

Highs

  • The Bulls pulling off a shock victory over Leinster in the 2021/22 United Rugby Championship semi-final in Dublin, overcoming the daunting challenge against the giants of European rugby, laden with Irish internationals. The Bulls produced an inspired performance to stun the juggernauts 27-26, ensuring Leinster went trophyless for the first time since 2017. It was a mighty display of physicality and fierce defensive effort.
  • The Proteas sealing a memorable series win over India, their superb pace attack revelling at home and their batsmen showing impressive toughness against a feisty bowling line-up. Despite their greatness as a cricketing nation, India have never won a Test series in South Africa, and the Proteas had to win the last two Tests to maintain that record. It was an exceptional achievement against the powerhouse Indian team, especially since South Africa produced two top-class fourth-innings chases to secure the thrilling win.
  • The South African men’s hockey team had to deal with many frustrations in 2022, as usual, so roaring to victory in the FIH Nations Cup in Potchefstroom, despite the resignation of coach Garreth Ewing on the eve of the tournament, was a remarkable effort. Victory over Ireland in the final meant South Africa grabbed the single qualification spot for the 2023/24 FIH Pro League, where they will compete on a regular basis with top teams like Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands and India. One can only praise interim coach Cheslin Gie and his charges.

Lows

  • South Africa have kissed many toads when it comes to cricket world cups but this year’s defeat to minnows the Netherlands and subsequent exit from the T20 World Cup at the group stage might be the worst blow-out of them all. Despite a washout against Zimbabwe, everything was going swimmingly as the Proteas needed to win just one of their last two matches, against Pakistan and the Netherlands, to reach the semi-finals. A desperate Pakistan side put up a stout effort to beat South Africa by 33 runs, but the Proteas looked astonishingly short of energy in the crunch match against the Dutch. A lacklustre bowling effort was followed by a miserable batting performance as they limped to 145 for eight and a humiliating defeat.
  • The sheer greed exposed by the breakaway LIV Golf Tour. One would think the world’s leading golfers have enough fancy motor cars, luxurious villas and lavish luxury goods, but apparently not.
  • Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber’s decision to not use the services of his first-choice team for the Rugby Championship Test against New Zealand at Ellis Park. After South Africa’s magnificent victory in Nelspruit (one of the highlights of the year), the All Blacks were hanging by a prayer, their coach Ian Foster and their captain Sam Cane being on the verge of being axed one year out from the World Cup. But instead of ruthlessly finishing off the job against their old rivals the following weekend, Nienaber took the foot off their neck by leaving key players on the bench at Ellis Park, resulting in an impressive 35-23 triumph for New Zealand, on their way to winning the tournament.

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