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Ken Borland

Not once has Ewing said Pro League is easy, and it will be no easier in Argentina 0

Posted on May 16, 2022 by Ken

Not once has South African men’s hockey coach Garreth Ewing suggested that the FIH Hockey Pro League will be anything but daunting, and it will get no easier for his team as their next assignment sees them travel to Argentina to play the 2016 Olympic champions in two Tests on April 23 and 24.

Having hosted a leg of the tournament in Potchefstroom in February, in which they lost all eight matches and conceded 52 goals against Germany, France, India and the Netherlands, South Africa are now well aware of the high standards in the competition.

“It was harder than we expected, I must admit,” Ewing told The Citizen. “But it was really disappointing that it took us a bit long to adjust to the tempo, admittedly against very good sides.

“There was improvement through the tournament though and we were quite disappointed not to get a couple of results in the end.

“Although it was a mentally and physically tough tournament for us, it was a very valuable exercise based on the squad we had, the rotation of players and the opportunities we gave them.

“We also made some tactical progress in terms of the areas of the game without the ball – how you pressurise the ball and utilise space. And there were glimpses of good counter-attack,” Ewing said.

South Africa will be bringing a new-look squad to Argentina, due to the unavailability of some of their players, the bulk of whom are amateurs. But, on the positive side, regular captain Tim Drummond returns, having been absent during the local leg of the Pro League.

“We’ve had selection issues and the unavailability of players is an ongoing challenge. So there will be quite a few changes,” Ewing said.

“Having Tim back will make a big difference, especially in terms of his experience and leadership. We’re playing in Buenos Aires, so we’ll be up against big crowds, which we are not used to over the last couple of years.

“There are still some technical weaknesses we need to sort out, both in attack and defence, in terms of how we hang on to the ball when we have it and the pressure we exert without the ball.

“There was a bit of a lack of continuity due to getting things wrong at just the wrong time. But at times we were really good but just didn’t get good outcomes. We would get to the circle but just not get the ball in the goals,” Ewing said.

Supposed ills of the Lions turns out to be hypochondria 0

Posted on March 09, 2022 by Ken

The supposed ills of the Central Gauteng Lions team turned out to be hypochondria more than anything else as they surged back to their best with an impressive eight-run win over the powerful KZN Dolphins in the CSA T20 Challenge at St George’s Park on Thursday.

Electing to bat first, the Lions were hyper-aggressive from the outset, but they lost three wickets in the powerplay. Shane Dadswell was the one top-order batsman to stick around for a while, scoring a pugnacious 42 off 28 balls.

But the Lions were in trouble at 113/6 in the 15th over and they were grateful to Sisanda Magala, who stated his batting credentials in no uncertain fashion with a punishing 37 off 27 deliveries, for getting them to a healthy 156/8.

Jason Smith (3-0-16-3) and Ruan de Swardt (4-0-32-3) did most of the damage for KZN, but off-spinner Prenelan Subrayen was their most testing bowler with 1/26 in his four overs.

Left-arm spinner Bjorn Fortuin (4-0-16-2) then took two wickets up front to reduce the Dolphins to 26/3, but the KZN side may have been imagining they were still in with a shout when Grant Roelofsen (34 off 26), Khaya Zondo (35) and Smith (39 off 34) were at the crease.

But Magala (4-0-26-2) was then outstanding with the ball at the death, as was Malusi Siboto (4-0-23-2) through the innings, as KZN were restricted to 148/8.

Earlier, the North-West Dragons had ruthlessly slit the throats of the Free State Knights, restricting them to a parlous 94/9.

Spinners Johannes Diseko (4-0-19-2) and Senuran Muthusamy (4-0-8-2) were superb, well-supported by left-arm quick Duan Jansen (4-1-16-1). North-West were also extremely slick in the field, effecting three run outs.

Openers Wesley Marshall (43 off 29) and Heino Kuhn (30* off 20) were then clinical in chasing down the target after 10.1 overs, earning North-West an eight-wicket win and a bonus point.

The last year as a pro golfer has apprised Mwandla that he needs to be enjoying himself more out there 0

Posted on October 22, 2021 by Ken

GQEBERHA, Eastern Cape – If being a professional on the Sunshine Tour since last year has taught Siyanda Mwandla anything, it has apprised him of the fact that he needs to be enjoying himself more while he is trying to make a living playing golf.

Mwandla, who was one of the most exciting amateurs in the country during his days at the Ernie Els Fancourt Foundation, won his tour card last year and finished 137th on the order of merit after playing 10 events.

This year he has built on that experience and is sitting 107th, having played a dozen tournaments. The last of those, the Vodacom Origins of Golf Series Mount Edgecombe leg, saw the 27-year-old post his best-ever round on tour, a 67 that saw him lying second after the first day. A par of 73s to close saw Mwandla finish in a tie for 38th, but it is all part of the learning experience.

This week’s Vodacom Origins of Golf Series event at Humewood is another opportunity to take a step forward in his career, with his game definitely trending upwards.

“The way I approach tournaments this year has been the difference. In the past, if I played with friends on a Saturday or on my own, I was happy and excited, but then I would be playing in the Sunshine Tour on the Wednesday and I would be anxious. It felt like two different rounds when it should be the same. I didn’t understand that I was meant to be having fun on the course whatever I was playing.

“I’ve been working with a sports psychologist and no tournament should be bigger in terms of mindset. I need to stay in the moment, in the present, and not get too far ahead of myself. So nowadays I don’t ask for much, I just want to play the final round and make cuts consistently, so I don’t have to think about that,” Mwandla said on Wednesday at Humewood as rain forced him to take a break from preparations for the fourth leg of the Vodacom Origins of Golf Series.

His Mount Edgecombe performance was a sign for Mwandla that the swing changes he put in place with coach Emile Steinmann are starting to bed in and he is not expecting any drama around the Humewood links this week, even if the weather, already windy and wet, continues to worsen.

“The swing changes were not all that comfortable at first but we are trying to get more consistency. I stuck with it and two weeks ago I saw some results. I like the Humewood course and I’ve had some nice amateur finishes here. You’ve got to have a bit of luck with the draw because you can be playing 12 holes with no wind and then for the last six you’re suddenly playing into the wind.

“You have to play a lot of knock-down shots here and sometimes you even feel like there’s a wind blowing when it’s not. It’s a thinking course from Hole One and although I’ve been working on getting my ball-flight higher since I moved to Johannesburg, growing up on the KZN North Coast means I subconsciously still have the low shots, I don’t have to even think about it. So I’m very comfortable here,” Mwandla said.

Boks seriously vulnerable if anything else goes amiss 0

Posted on August 11, 2021 by Ken

It is going to be a nervous week for Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber ahead of the first Test against the British and Irish Lions in Cape Town because, as the disappointing performance of the SA A pack against the Bulls showed, if anything more goes amiss with his first-choice line-up then the home side are going to be seriously vulnerable.

Nienaber has claimed that not even he knows when the likes of captain Siya Kolisi, ace flyhalf Handre Pollard and wing Makazole Mapimpi will clear their Covid protocols. The availability of those three players will be his foremost concern this week, but there are other departments that are looking a bit thin at the moment too.

While Kolisi’s absence, alongside that of Duane Vermeulen, leaves Pieter-Steph du Toit to marshal an inexperienced loose trio, the situation at lock is even more concerning. Franco Mostert and Eben Etzebeth are the first-choice pairing and both have been outstanding in the warm-ups. But, with Lood de Jager and RG Snyman not yet fit, their back-ups – Marvin Orie, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg and Jean-Luc du Preez – have been underwhelming.

Frans Malherbe being Covid-positive has raised questions about the depth at tighthead prop and, while Steven Kitshoff is consistently excellent in the No.1 jersey, who the loosehead prop replacement is going to be is an interesting question with Ox Nche reportedly also being infected with the virus.

There is good news at hooker though with the reported returns to training of Bongi Mbonambi and Scarra Ntubeni meaning Nienaber will not have to field the uncapped Joseph Dweba or Fez Mbatha off the bench.

Elton Jantjies looked in solid form against the Bulls and is an experienced campaigner who can step in for Pollard, while Sbu Nkosi or Aphelele Fassi are both capable stand-ins for Mapimpi. Scrumhalf Cobus Reinach and eighthman Kwagga Smith were the other players who were blameless in the weekend loss, but both were not overly impressed with the quality of performance put up by SA A.

“We had a lot of opportunities that were not taken, instead of being simple we tried something that was not on too often. It’s important to not go out of alignment as a squad, we all have to do our job and we need to put our game-plan on them. There were small individual things that were good, but we did not collectively stamp ourselves on the Bulls,” Reinach said.

“It was an opportunity to get some game-time, which we have not had a lot of, and we knew the Bulls would be desperate, but I think we underestimated how much they wanted to prove a point. We didn’t dominate up front and that’s where the trouble started. We lacked that bit of x-factor and there were a lot of mistakes. We need to sharpen up and get the basics right,” Smith said.

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