for quality writing

Ken Borland



A year of SuperRugby experience a major positive – Nollis 0

Posted on July 19, 2016 by Ken

 

Bulls coach Nollis Marais said the experience gained from a year of SuperRugby was the major positive of a campaign that ended at the weekend with his team just missing out on a playoffs spot.

The Bulls ended on a high with a 43-17 romp over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, their ninth win from 15 games leaving them on 42 points, in ninth place overall and just one point behind the Sharks, who took the last quarterfinal place as the third South African qualifiers.

“At the end of the day, the Sharks finished with more points than us, but we had 14 players make their SuperRugby debuts this year and 12 of them went on their first tour to Australia. They all came through and guys like Jason Jenkins, RG Snyman and Warrick Gelant are 20/21. The guys now have one Super Rugby season behind them, but we can’t use inexperience as an excuse again next year, we will have to be much better especially since we’ll be playing against the New Zealand teams,” Marais said.

The lack of bonus points picked up by the Bulls was a key factor in their failure to make the playoffs, as they collected only four, all of them from the try-scoring bonus. Home games against the Reds – where they led 27-8 but won 41-22 – and the Rebels – where they led 42-3 but conceded four tries in the final quarter, have come back to haunt the Bulls.

“It actually makes me quite emotional because I remember after the Reds game saying that I hope missing the bonus point doesn’t come back to bite us. And every time we lost a game, we couldn’t get a bonus point either, which is very disappointing, especially when you finish just two points off the playoffs.

“I still believe our best wins were against the Stormers and the Western Force away, although a lot of guys played well against the Cheetahs, the guys pitched because a lot of them are leaving,” Marais said.

It was announced on Monday that Marais will now take the reins of the Currie Cup side, which will basically be the SuperRugby outfit minus Jesse Kriel, who once again showed how good he can be at fullback without his space being cramped like it is in midfield, Rudy Paige, Lappies Labuschagne, Marcel van der Merwe, Adriaan Strauss, Werner Kruger, Grant Hattingh and Francois Brummer.

The qualifying campaign under Hendré Marnitz has been messy with seven defeats fouling their seven wins, but CEO Barend van Graan said the change was more to do with continuity seeing as though most of the SuperRugby side will be involved.

“With almost the whole Bulls squad now available for the Currie Cup competition that is starting soon, the call was made to extend the mandate of Marais, so he will now be coaching the Blue Bulls as well. It just makes sense for him to continue with the group of players that are developing so nicely under his guidance. The call to continue with Nollis in the Currie Cup was made for rugby reasons and is not a reflection on Hendré’s abilities. The progress and growth shown by the team under Nollis is something we want to expand and grow, hence the decision,” Van Graan said.

Gold hopes Sharks’ courage will bring some respite from critics 0

Posted on June 09, 2016 by Ken

 

Sharks coach Gary Gold said he hoped his team’s courageous effort against the Lions in Johannesburg at the weekend would give them some respite from their critics.

Although the Sharks went down 23-21 to the Lions to suffer their fifth defeat in nine matches, they pushed the in-form home side all the way and, had flyhalf Fred Zeilinga succeeded with an angled, long-range penalty after the hooter, they would have claimed a morale-boosting victory.

“Even our biggest critics want to know that there is some fight in this team and, after the week we’ve had, the guys really put their hands up, stuck in it for the full duration and were in a position to win it at the end. They showed huge character to keep out wave after wave of attack on our own line and it showed that we’re not just going to roll over and think our season is over,” Gold said.

On top of all the disruptions in the last week, the Sharks then had to contend with the late withdrawal of eighthman Ryan Kankowski with a knee injury and yet another yellow card, centre Andre Esterhuizen being sent to the sin bin for a late tackle, which Gold felt was a contentious call.

“The yellow card was unbelievably frustrating and the wrong call. Every decision should be taken on its own merits and I’m still wondering if the tackle was even late, so it definitely shouldn’t have been a yellow card. The sanction for a late tackle is a penalty and there was no malice involved, it wasn’t around the neck or anything,” Gold fumed.

The key period of the game was the 10 minutes either side of half-time when the Lions scored three times to turn a 14-6 deficit into a 25-14 lead, and Gold was at a loss to explain how it happened.

“We’ll have to have a look at that, we let it slip a bit there. We took a knock in confidence with that try just before halftime, but we had a constructive chat in the break, the talk was all positive and intelligent,” Gold said.

“But look at where we are in the competition, we’re just over halfway and we’re just four points behind the conference leaders, and I’m excited that this bunch of players can still get things right. The South African pool is very tight and just four points separates the top four teams.”

With several second-string choices playing their guts out against the Lions, it will be interesting to see who Gold recalls from the contingent of Springbok players that were left out, because this weekend’s game is against the conference-leading Bulls in Durban.

 

Bulls pack come of age in win over Stormers 0

Posted on May 24, 2016 by Ken

 

The Bulls pack may well have come of age in their 17-13 victory over the Stormers in their SuperRugby match at Loftus Versfeld at the weekend, with coach Nollis Marais rating it as their best performance of the season.

The Bulls dominated the scrums, constantly hassled the Stormers’ lineout and were absolutely immense in defending the gainline, all this against a pack with half-a-dozen Springboks including Pieter-Steph du Toit and Eben Etzebeth in the engine room.

“I think it was our best performance, especially after our big defeat to them in the first round. We are so young up front, but the guys manned up well. Jannes Kirsten has been good all season – sometimes I think he’s confused as to just how good he is, RG Snyman and Jason Jenkins were playing against guys that are going to the Springbok squad and they really kept them on their toes. They showcased how good they are tonight and all credit to them because they came out and played in a high-pressure match against a team that was very hard off the line,” Marais said.

Having lost the gainline battle in their two previous games against the Brumbies and Waratahs, Marais said his team had learnt how quickly one needs to come off the line in SuperRugby.

“The big thing against the Brumbies and the Waratahs was that we gave them the gainline. They came hard off the line at us and we learnt and showed better speed in defence today. You need a good attack and defence to win and all credit to coach Pine Pienaar for the defence tonight,” Marais said.

Stormers coach Robbie Fleck also praised the redoubled efforts of the Bulls’ defensive line.

“You have to give credit to the Bulls’ defence, they worked incredibly hard. We were retaining possession so they were under pressure, but they did incredibly well, slowing us down at the ruck so we never had any quick ball and we couldn’t raise the tempo.

“They brought us down to their pace, which didn’t suit us, it became a set-piece battle, which we didn’t want. We wanted a quick, open game. But you also have to credit the Bulls’ set-pieces – they contested and had our lineout under pressure, so we couldn’t launch from there, and they won penalties at scrum-time. You need to dominate the set-piece in a tight game,” Fleck said.

 

Bulls not able to get attacking play going 0

Posted on May 16, 2016 by Ken

 

Bulls coach Nollis Marais admitted that his team were never able to produce the attacking play they are aiming for after they went down 31-8 to the Waratahs in Sydney at the weekend, leaving them with must-win games against the Stormers and Lions at home over the next fortnight.

The Bulls only crossed the tryline in the 74th minute against the Waratahs, at which stage the game was already gone, having spent most of the second half pegged back in their own territory.

“We’re focusing on how we want to play and I know it did not look like that today. We were in the game in the first half, but we weren’t accurate enough, we should have scored but we didn’t use those opportunities. The next 30 minutes we weren’t in the game at all, there were too many turnovers and easy exits for the Waratahs.

“But they are a good, experienced side and there’s a huge difference in the number of caps between the two sides. We always knew that it would be a long road this year with a dozen guys making their SuperRugby debuts. But we have to be better next week against the Stormers, our arch-enemies, and then against the Lions. We have to beat those teams if we are to have hopes of contending,” Marais said.

While there was some endeavour in the first half, the Bulls played slow, risk-free rugby after the break, but still managed to make numerous mistakes, and it sadly resembled much of the rugby they played last year before Marais came in with his new approach.

“It’s always difficult travelling and if you have five to 10 minutes when you slip tackles and concede too many penalties then you can get a hiding. We just need to focus on what we need to do better and there are so many things we need to focus on,” Marais lamented.

 

  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • Thought of the Day

    Don’t be so busy – even working for God – that you don’t have regular quiet time. Don’t let your activities become more important than your time with the Father. You can be alive ‘for’ God without experiencing the presence and power of the living Christ.

    “Attempting to serve the Lord without the strength of the Holy Spirit results in frustration and ultimate disaster.

    “If your vision of him grows dim, your service will become powerless and ineffective. This will happen if your spiritual reserves are not regularly replenished through prayer and meditation.

    “You must put him first in all your activities. Your service for him must be the result of your intimate knowledge of him. Only when he enjoys priority in all things, can you understand life from his perspective. Putting Christ first in your life and work makes you a more capable servant of God.” – A Shelter From The Storm, Solly Ozrovech



↑ Top