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Ken Borland



Meant to be close derby at Kings Park, but Sharks blow Bulls away 0

Posted on September 20, 2023 by Ken

Given that the Bulls had won their last two matches against the Sharks and were fired up after their loss to the Stormers, it was meant to be a close United Rugby Championship derby at Kings Park on Saturday night, but the KwaZulu-Natalians produced a tremendously focused and intense performance as they blew the visitors away 47-20.

The opening quarter was tightly contested with Chris Smith and Curwin Bosch trading penalties, before the Bulls grabbed the opening try in the 19th minute. Impressive hands created space out wide for wing Canan Moodie, who regained his own chip ahead, albeit with a lucky bounce.

But then the Bulls found themselves in the eye of a storm, much of it of their own making as they were terribly ill-disciplined. Following a Bosch penalty, after prop Thomas du Toit won a turnover, that closed the gap to 9-13, the Sharks took a quick tap penalty and found space out wide, but Moodie knocked the final pass out into touch, leading to a yellow card and a penalty try.

The Sharks piled on the pressure and, with two minutes to go, flank Cyle Brink was also sent to the sin-bin after repeated Bulls’ infringements. A big Sharks scrum – an area where they held a great advantage – was followed by scrumhalf Grant Williams going one way and then the other and sniping over for the try.

By the time Bosch had converted – the resurgent flyhalf succeeded with eight of his nine kicks at goal – the halftime hooter was about to go, but referee Marius van der Westhuizen warned the Bulls twice that they could not kick the restart direct into touch.

Nevertheless, that is what Smith did and the Bulls paid a heavy price. The Sharks attacked from the scrum in the centre of the field, wing Kurt-Lee Arendse conceding a penalty for a deliberate knock-on, which allowed the Sharks into the 22. From there they earned another penalty, also kicked to touch, and a patient lineout maul saw hooker Bongi Mbonambi score. Having trailed by just three points two minutes before halftime, the Bulls were suddenly 13-30 down at the break.

The Sharks, confidence rampant, were on auto-pilot in the second half and they scored a superb try in the 51st minute to open the scoring after the break. Outside centre Lukhanyo Am popped an inside ball to wing Marnus Potgieter, who broke through before inside centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg’s quick hands sent the ball wide to fullback Boeta Chamberlain, who was stopped inside the 22 but produced a super offload for Janse van Rensburg to score.

The Bulls did respond with a fine try of their own, Moodie and Johan Goosen combining very well out wide for the fullback to score.

But the result was never in doubt as a Bosch penalty stretched the Sharks lead back to 40-20.

Moodie then ended up being red-carded, for a second yellow card, when he went fractionally high on a tackle on a dipping player. It was a harsh penalty when the Bulls wing did little wrong, and the officials ought to have paid more attention to the more dangerous neck-tackle on Arendse that followed. But because it happened later on in the same passage of play as Moodie’s small mistake, it was ignored.

The shellshocked Bulls then conceded another try after the final hooter when Janse van Rensburg snatched an intercept and dotted down under the poles.

The New Year’s celebrations at Kings Park will certainly be good.

Scorers

Sharks: Tries – Penalty try, Grant Williams, Bongi Mbonambi, Rohan Janse van Rensburg (2). Conversions – Curwin Bosch (4). Penalties – Bosch (4).

Bulls: Tries – Canan Moodie, Johan Goosen. Conversions – Chris Smith (2). Penalties – Smith (2).

T20 auctions will be searching for Klaasen, as he showcases new game with pared down options 0

Posted on September 15, 2023 by Ken

Heinrich Klaasen heaves another boundary in his record-breaking innings against Australia.

Heinrich Klaasen ensured that he will remain one of the most sought-after players in whatever T20 league auctions he wishes to put his name forward for with a breathtaking, extraordinary innings at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Friday that blew Australia away and allowed South Africa to level the ODI series at 2-2.

Klaasen plundered 174 off just 83 deliveries to lead the Proteas, who had been sent in to bat, to an imposing 416 for five. Australia were then bowled out for 252, as South Africa registered their second biggest victory over their great rivals, triumphing by 164 runs.

The first half of the Proteas innings was a cautious affair as the top-order never seemed entirely sure what a two-paced pitch that also provided some nibble off the seam was going to do. After 25 overs, the score was 120 for two, Quinton de Kock (45), Reeza Hendricks (28) and Rassie van der Dussen (62 off 65 balls) having done a fine job in laying a solid platform.

The first ball of the 26th over saw Aiden Markram (8) caught at extra cover off Michael Neser, bringing Klaasen to the crease. Even though he breezed to a 38-ball half-century, he did not look as though he had hit top gear.

In fact, as Klaasen said later, it was actually Van der Dussen’s aggression that provided the spark. The pair of Pretoria-born batsmen had added 74 off 59 balls for the fourth wicket when Van der Dussen was caught behind attacking Josh Hazlewood, leaving South Africa on 194 for four in the 35th over.

What followed was utter mayhem as Klaasen and David Miller (82 not out off 45 balls) lashed another 222 runs off just 100 deliveries, including a scarcely-believable 173 runs in the last 10 overs. From eyeing 300 to hoping for 350 and then totally exceeding that too, it was an onslaught that brought back memories of the famous 438 game against the same rivals down the road at the Wanderers in 2006.

Remarkably, the Australian attack actually did not bowl as badly as the figures suggest. It was just that whatever plan they came up with for the rampant Klaasen, the 32-year-old had an answer and it almost always involved a boundary. He hit 13 fours and 13 sixes in less than two hours of batting. Middle-stump yorkers were blasted back over bowlers’ heads; full and wide deliveries were steered with an open blade over backward point.

And, counter-intuitively given how he seemed to have a shot for every delivery, Klaasen said his success these last couple of years is down to him actually decreasing the number of options he employs.

“In the last few years, the turning point for me has been taking a lot of options out of my bag. When I was young, you look up to a guy like AB de Villiers and you try and play all the shots.

“But the genius is in knowing when to play them. Like a golfer who’s trying to hit the green every time, you have to stick to the game-plan and use the right clubs. Now I have three different options for every game and I play every ball as it is, I don’t try and recap the previous ball.

“I didn’t know how many sixes I had hit, which shows I was only focused on the next moment, my mind was in the right space. I went through a bad phase in my career when I was taking a risk too early in my innings and I ended up being dropped from the Proteas.

“I came back to my domestic team [Titans] and my coaches [Mark Boucher, Richard das Neves and Matthew Reuben] said I’m using too many options. Richard and Matthew have done lots of work throwing thousands of balls at me, and Albie Morkel has also given me some great ideas,” Klaasen said on Friday night.

The willingness to avail himself of advice was also backed by an enormous amount of work in the nets.

“I never used to be one for hitting a lot of balls, but I had to because I had to invest in my batting. I developed a blueprint in training and it’s still working. Now I stand still and watch the ball and almost just let my body take over with what I’ve practised. It also involves a lot of homework on the opposition, it’s all about options and taking what’s on offer from the bowlers,” Klaasen said.

In the field, the Proteas were also much improved up front with the new ball. Lungi Ngidi removed both David Warner (12) and Mitchell Marsh (6) in the first five overs, and his final figures of four for 51 in eight overs were a welcome return to form for him.

The dangerous Travis Head was struck twice on the hand by the pacy but inconsistent Gerald Coetzee, and retired hurt for 17 off 11 balls, and it fell to wicketkeeper Alex Carey to try and keep things going with the bat for Australia.

Although never ahead of the steep required run-rate, the tourists were also not too far behind and when the towering frame of Tim David (35) began unveiling the big hits in a stand of 72 off 53 balls with Carey, it looked possible that the Proteas might still be involved in a close finish.

But Ngidi returned to remove David, Markram taking an excellent running catch at extra cover, and Kagiso Rabada then wrapped things up with three for 41 in 7.5 overs. Carey was the last wicket to fall, Rabada denying him a century when he had him caught behind gloving a hook for 99 off 77 deliveries.

The Proteas have discovered a new lease on life in the last two matches, setting up a series-decider at the Wanderers on Sunday. With Klaasen and Markram riding high after their extraordinary centuries in Potchefstroom and Centurion, and the rest of the batsmen in the runs too, the batting unit will go to the World Cup in good shape.

Spinner Keshav Maharaj, Ngidi and Rabada were impressive with the ball and the bowling attack will want to build on the progress shown.

In the meantime, Klaasen can bask in the glory of what he said was the sort of innings that only comes around once or twice in a career.

That’s how special it was.

Rabada and Nortje the stars before rain arrives and washes out play 0

Posted on October 03, 2022 by Ken

Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje were the star performers as South Africa blew away England’s top-order and reduced them to 116/6 when rain arrived and washed out the rest of the first day of the first Test at Lord’s on Wednesday.

Rabada set the tone for a brilliant bowling performance by the Proteas after captain Dean Elgar had won the toss and elected to bowl first, removing both openers, Alex Lees (5) and Zak Crawley (9), before Anrich Nortje ripped through the middle-order with the big scalps of Jonny Bairstow, comprehensively bowled for a duck, and Ben Stokes caught in the slips for 20 with the last delivery before lunch.

Only six overs were possible after the break before the weather intervened.

Nortje finished the day with an explosive 3/43 in nine overs, while Rabada was classy in taking 2/36 in 12.

Rabada said the Proteas pacemen had exploited what was in the pitch and stuck to good plans.

“There was a bit in the pitch and we were able to get rewards for putting the ball in the right areas. Test cricket is about doing something over and over, but you do have slightly different plans for the various batsmen.

“These days you have analysts and lots of data, so you sometimes change your strategy just a little. But generally I just try and keep it simple.

“We have got pace, bounce, swing and guys who can bowl quick bumpers, so our pace attack has all the ingredients to be formidable,” Rabada said.

Even a bowler as intimidating as Rabada was made to look like a friendly uncle though by the sheer ferocity of Nortje. Having been out of Test cricket for more than a year, the 28-year-old certainly showed what the Proteas have been missing as he came roaring in, regularly hitting 150km/h.

The in-form Bairstow was castled middle-stump, while Stokes, who was looking ominous, was undone by late movement at high pace.

“It was going to take something special to get an in-form batsman like Jonny out and that was really quick from Anrich,” Rabada said. “He’s very passionate, hence the celebration, and rightfully so because it was a very good ball.”

Left-armer Marco Jansen chipped in with the key wicket of Joe Root, trapped lbw for eight by a booming inswinger. He had reason to feel peeved because reviews showed the ball was just clipping the outside of leg-stump, which was not enough for his referral to be upheld.

Ollie Pope was the one English batsman to prosper, fighting hard for his 61 not out, which came briskly, off 87 balls. Busy and compact, he had struck four fours in a fine display of positive batting.

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