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Ken Borland



Springboks v Argentina: Work-ons ahead of Kings Park decider 0

Posted on November 02, 2022 by Ken

The Springboks are still on track to win the Rugby Championship following a bonus point win over Argentina in Buenos Aires.

They are now level on points (14) with New Zealand ahead of their final fixture, again versus Argentina, but this time in Durban next Saturday.

So the Springboks need to better whatever the All Blacks result is against the Wallabies, while they also have a 13-point deficit in points difference to make up.

As impressive as their composure and finishing was in Buenos Aires, these are the work-ons the Springboks need to focus on ahead of the Kings Park decider.

Not allowing themselves to be trapped on the back foot

The Springboks were so dominant both in terms of territory and possession in the first half that it was a major surprise when the momentum shifted so thoroughly in the third quarter, which the visitors spent mostly on defence.

Argentina undoubtedly raised their intensity in a last-ditch effort to stay in contention for their maiden Sanzar title, and a passionate crowd added to the sense of mania, but the Springboks contributed to their torrid time by perhaps relying too much on the 22-6 lead they had built up in the first half.

These dips in intensity from the Springboks have been a feature of their campaign, and captain Siya Kolisi was quite right when he said they will need an 80-minute performance of high intensity in Durban if they are to get their hands on the trophy.

Wednesday is flyhalf D-Day

With Damian Willemse almost certainly concussed and unavailable for the decider, we will know on Wednesday how coach Jacques Nienaber is going to solve his flyhalf conundrum, with Handre Pollard injured and Elton Jantjies out of the public eye after his out-of-wedlock activities.

The only real options remaining in the squad are Willie le Roux and Francois Steyn.

Le Roux has great attacking instincts, his timing of passes being superb, while Steyn is a powerful presence in defence, carrying the ball and with the boot. Whoever is chosen needs to wed those strengths with the game-management demands of the game, which will be intricate depending on what the Springboks have to do to overhaul the All Blacks.

Don’t let ill-discipline end in tears

While the Springboks covered themselves in glory by showing great composure and character to weather a massive storm and seal victory after Argentina had pulled to within two points, they can still improve on their discipline.

They conceded two yellow cards and 16 penalties, and were it not for poor finishing by the Pumas, they would have been punished for it. If Argentina are as abrasive again but more clinical in Durban, then South Africa will need to show incredible composure.

Missed tackles feed the momentum

While the Springboks scrambled well in Buenos Aires, they missed 22 tackles, which just feeds the momentum of a team like the Pumas, who rely so much on emotion and are dangerous when allowed to attack on the front foot.

It is a concentration thing more than anything.

‘Lack of bonus points has hurt us’ – Nollis 0

Posted on June 29, 2016 by Ken

 

“The lack of bonus points is what has hurt us,” Bulls coach Nollis Marais said on Tuesday as he contemplated the three-point gap between them and the Sharks and the four extra points the Stormers have, deficits they now have three weeks to make up, starting with this weekend’s awkward trip to Buenos Aires to play the Jaguares .

The Bulls, Sharks and Stormers all won seven of their dozen matches in the first segment of SuperRugby, so Marais is spot on with his analysis.

“Not getting bonus points when we beat the Reds and Rebels is now a problem for us and we have to make sure we win our next three games, just to control our destiny a bit. But it doesn’t help if we now just allow ourselves to stagnate, we must definitely move forward in our intensity and in the way we want to play.

“We want to show our fight and we must go out and play an attacking brand of rugby. We definitely have that mindset. We can’t just maul sides, that’s not the way we want to play. We want to play more with the ball in certain areas, play a high-intensity game. The maul and set-pieces still play a big part, but we can’t just have that, we must also break the line,” Marais said.

The Bulls squad that will leave for Argentina on Wednesday has been rocked by injuries.

Flank Deon Stegmann, lock Grant Hattingh and wing Bjorn Basson have injured themselves in training, to add to the injuries picked up on international duty by prop Trevor Nyakane and lock RG Snyman.

The Bulls will also be led by Lappies Labuschagne because Springbok captain Adriaan Strauss is being given a rest as per the agreement with Saru.

“Nothing needs to be said by me, everyone knows what needs to be done and we’re all working towards the same goal. We’re in a good space, it’s a big game and one we really want to win. The past is in the past, but we can rectify the mistakes we made and we’re really fired up for the rest of the season. We’re really positive for what lies ahead,” Labuschagne said.

Sharks’ defence not perfectly aligned but heart certainly in place 0

Posted on May 16, 2016 by Ken

 

The Cell C Sharks’ defences were not as well aligned as usual, but their hearts were certainly in the right place as they showed tremendous determination and spirit to beat the Jaguares 25-22 in their Vodacom SuperRugby match at the Velez Sarfield Stadium in Buenos Aires overnight.

The win has allowed the Sharks to leapfrog the Bulls in the Africa Group and, although they have played an extra game, they are in touching distance of the log-leading Lions and Stormers.

The Sharks started brightly and centres Andre Esterhuizen and Paul Jordaan combined well to earn a penalty which flyhalf Pat Lambie, in his first start this season, pushed wide.

But the Jaguares began dominating possession and they found cracks in a Sharks defence that was not as well organised as it usually is. And the visitors were made to pay in the eighth minute as Joaquin Tuculet slipped through some poor tackles and then passed inside for lock Tomas Lavanini to gallop over for the opening try.

Flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez converted and the Jaguares led 7-0, before Lambie made no mistake with his second kick at goal, a penalty awarded at a scrum for illegal binding, and cut the lead to 7-3 in the 11th minute.

The Sharks were struggling to create try-scoring chances, but the ill-discipline of the passionate Argentinians meant that they were able to keep the scoreboard ticking over via penalties, with Lambie kicking his second in the 16th minute to cut the lead to just one point.

That advantage was stretched again by the Jaguares in the 18th minute, but it was through a controversial try that they were awarded. Scrumhalf Martin Landajo was swung towards the Sharks tryline by lock Lubabalo Mtyanda, but replays showed that he had dotted the ball down short of the line. Sharks fullback Willie le Roux then arrived and dragged the ball out of his grasp, touching it down in-goal in the process.

Referee Marius van der Westhuizen ruled, however, that the try was good, contradicting the views of his TMO.

Sanchez converted and the match was rapidly turning sour for the Sharks as they were 14-6 down, plus they lost flank Jean Deysel to what appeared to be a serious neck injury after he had landed poorly in a collision.

They had earlier lost scrumhalf Michael Claassens shortly before kick-off, meaning Stefan Ungerer was promoted to the starting line-up, but they were without a reserve scrumhalf, with Joe Pietersen forced to fill in in the closing minutes.

An intimidating crowd and the fiery, spoiling efforts of the Jaguares added to the challenges, with the weak officiating also corrupting the contest.

The Sharks did manage to eat away at the Jaguares’ lead though with a pair of Lambie penalties in the 27th and 30th minutes (12-14) and the spoiling efforts at the breakdown by flank Pablo Matera saw him yellow-carded four minutes later.

He had just gone off the field when eighthman Daniel du Preez shrugged off the desperate defensive efforts of the home side to power over the line, Lambie converting for a 19-14 lead.

The Jaguares managed to launch one more attack just before the teams went off for halftime, and the Sharks paid the fee for being trapped offsides as Sanchez kicked a penalty to cut the gap to 17-19.

The Sharks spent much of the second half being more like seals trying to avoid the killer blows of the home side, but they are an exceptionally resilient team and they came away with the spoils despite the numerous obstacles they had to overcome.

The Jaguares are going to be particularly disappointed that they failed to score any points leading up to the final quarter when they bashed away at the tryline and had several dominant scrums before the Sharks managed to come up with crucial shoves at the right time that turned over possession.

If they are going to convert winning positions into actual wins, then the Jaguares are going to have to improve their discipline and their goal-kicking, with both Sanchez and centre Juan Martin Hernandez missing crucial shots at goal in the second half.

Lambie kicked another penalty to stretch the Sharks’ lead to 22-17 after the Jaguares had failed to remove themselves from the 10-yard circle after a poor up-and-under by Landajo, but the visitors were under pressure again going into the last 10 minutes as replacement wing S’bura Sithole was sent from the field, to the sin bin, for offsides.

With eight minutes remaining, loosehead prop Santiago Garcia Botta burrowed over the line for the try that eliminated the Sharks’ lead, but Hernandez pulled his conversion attempt wide to leave the teams locked at 22-22.

The Sharks were under pressure in many scrums, but when it really mattered they managed to produce their best work in that set-piece. This was the case again in the penultimate minute as a big scrum earned a penalty and Lambie kicked the winning points from 40 metres out.

This was by no means a great display of rugby by the Sharks, but it was a tremendous display of heart and a team that has that sort of character will always do well.

Lambie has returned to rugby with aplomb and Lourens Adriaanse has once again shown that he is the kingpin when it comes to scrum time. Stephan Lewies was consistently good once again and has pushed himself into the conversation about potential Springbok locks.

http://www.citizen.co.za/1116355/sharks-defence-leaky-but-heart-still-in-place/

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