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Ken Borland

WP full of running & adventure, but Bulls score bulk of the tries 0

Posted on September 17, 2021 by Ken

Western Province came to Loftus Versfeld full of running and adventurous rugby, but it was the Bulls who scored the bulk of the tries – six of them – as they cruised to a 48-31 victory in their Currie Cup semifinal in Pretoria on Friday night.

Western Province were simply battered into submission by the Bulls pack, who dominated the set-pieces and bossed the collisions with utter ruthlessness. But it was far from 10-man rugby by the home side as flyhalf Johan Goosen not only kicked superbly out of hand and from the tee, but sparked the backline with his tremendously skilful passing and adept vision.

Goosen’s ability to spot space out wide and his skill in throwing long, flat passes across the face of the defence led to two tries in the first 10 minutes, putting the Bulls 17-0 ahead.

Western Province recovered from their hesitant start through the first of two tries to wing Edwill van der Merwe, but the Bulls’ mixture of power, great support play and running lines, and their eye for space saw them score three further tries before the break for a commanding 38-12 lead at halftime.

If Western Province were ever going to get back in the game, they needed to score a couple of tries early in the second half. They started well, with Van der Merwe going over for his second try after fullback Sergeal Petersen had broken through close to a ruck.

But Van der Merwe was denied his hat-trick try when the TMO ruled he did not have control of the ball when he finished superbly in the corner, despite the tackles of powerhouses Harold Vorster and Arno Botha. The winger was certainly not in touch and to rule he did not have control of the ball was a hopelessly harsh conclusion based on the replays.

Had the try stood, the gap could have closed to 26-38, but instead the dominant Bulls scrum won a penalty under their poles and the home side were back on attack.

With 12 minutes remaining, the exuberant Cornal Hendricks literally dived over the defence to score and seal the  triumph and an amazing performance by the Bulls.

Van der Merwe did eventually get his hat-trick try in the final minute, kicking through a dropped pass and then skinning Hendricks. Western Province’s one shining light is now off to the Lions though. Has rugby in the Western Cape ever been in such a dreadful state?


BullsTries: Cornal Hendricks (2), Johan Goosen, Arno Botha, Lionel Mapoe, Marcell Coetzee. Conversions: Goosen (6). Penalties: Goosen (2).

Western ProvinceTries: Edwill van der Merwe (3), Hacjivah Dayimani, Andre-Hugo Venter. Conversions: Tim Swiel (3).

What happens when Everitt loans out most of his Sharks players to the Boks? 0

Posted on June 01, 2021 by Ken

When Sharks coach Sean Everitt loans out most of his starting line-up to the Springboks this week, it will give him the chance to work with the players who are likely to play for the bulk of the rest of the year and fix the problems that were evident in their weekend loss to the Stormers.

This is a bye week for the South African teams in the Rainbow Cup and the Springboks will be holding an alignment camp. Then the stars will return for the last two weeks of the competition and what has now become a three-horse race for a place in the June 19 final against the European winners, following the Sharks’ weekend loss to the Stormers and the Lions upstaging the log-leading Bulls.

“Playing local derbies four weeks in a row has been really tough and it takes a toll physically. The guys deserve some rest and we’ll now have a week to work hard on the larger squad, get them ready for the Currie Cup. It’s a good opportunity for me to work closely with them, make sure they are ready to rock ‘n roll.

“Losing two in a row won’t give me sleepless nights, but I’ll be pondering how to fix the problems. And I’m not worried because the problems are fixable; if there was a lack of effort, enthusiasm or energy then we would be in trouble, but you can’t question the effort of the team, they worked hard and gave everything against a very powerful Stormers pack,” Everitt said after their 22-25 defeat at Kings Park.

The Sharks intimated that they would rather have taken on the Stormers with the sun out, instead of the overcast, wet weather which forced them into an arm-wrestle against one of the better packs in the competition.

“The Stormers always try to slow us down, we scored tries from quick lineouts and quick taps in Cape Town, that’s a part of our game and we got reward for that in our last match against them. We want to play a fast tempo of rugby but it was difficult in these conditions, especially late in the second half, when it rained quite hard. We had dominance for the first 30 minutes and for patches in the second half.

“But the lineout is a massive source of possession and a big contributor to the number of tries you score. We did really well in the first half, but we were under the pump in the second half, the Stormers have three really good jumpers, some really tall timber. So there’s a lot of hard work ahead on that, that’s the main area that let us down, while we also had lapses in defence,” Everitt said.

Focus on the overseas-based players as Springbok selection draws near 0

Posted on May 10, 2017 by Ken


It is a rugby truism that any coach stands or falls by his selections and Allister Coetzee’s mind will be rapidly focusing on who will represent the Springboks in the three Tests next month against France, the bulk of whom will surely be invited to the final training camp from May 20-22.

And when the first Springbok squad of 2017 is selected towards the end of the month the focus will once again be on the overseas-based players. But SA Rugby, who have done their coach precious few favours since negotiations with him began in 2015, have put him on the back foot in this regard with their new ruling that, from July 1, only players with 30 Test caps can be chosen from overseas.

If Coetzee had to just choose the most in-form team from SuperRugby then a backline could run on to Loftus Versfeld on June 10 with less than 50 caps, which a coach, on as shaky ground as he is, is highly unlikely to gamble on. The form Super Rugby backline would probably be Bosch-Mvovo-Mapoe-Odendaal-Skosan-Jantjies-Cronje.

So it seems inevitable that Coetzee will call on overseas-based players, especially amongst the backs.

Jan Serfontein is on his way to France and only has 26 Springbok caps at the moment, so he will not be eligible for the Rugby Championship. Should Coetzee pick him anyway against France knowing that he won’t be part of the plans for the rest of the year?

Willie le Roux has been playing with typical enthusiasm for Wasps and is likely to be in the picture at fullback, but Coetzee will be curbing the development of Curwin Bosch by not selecting him against France and instead letting him play in another World Junior Championship for the SA U20s.

Bosch has been one of the standout players in SuperRugby and has come through the ranks having been tipped as a future Springbok star after his exploits with the SA U20s last year. He will surely be involved in the 2019 World Cup, and could quite possibly be needed during this year’s Rugby Championship, so why not get him involved now? Let him play at fullback where he will have more time to settle at senior international level.

Bryan Habana, JP Pietersen, Morne Steyn and Ruan Pienaar are all still playing well overseas, but the general feeling amongst rugby observers is that it is time we moved on from these superstars, particularly since none of them are likely to be around for the 2019 World Cup. Nevertheless, Coetzee is a desperate coach trying to avoid the axe, so don’t be surprised if he calls on some of these elder statesmen.

While there is probably more depth at forward, veteran hooker Bismarck du Plessis is almost certain to be summoned to play the role of a general in the tight five, and playing the French at the end of their gruelling season with two of the Tests being played on the Highveld should produce open rugby and encourage Coetzee to pick players suited to a free-flowing game plan like Warren Whiteley, Siya Kolisi, Jaco Kriel, Franco Mostert, Ruan Dreyer, Malcolm Marx, Thomas du Toit, Coenie Oosthuizen, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Sikhumbuzo Notshe.

But the new 30-cap ruling on overseas players will also hurt Coetzee at forward. There is a hint of lawlessness in the way certain agents are shipping their players off overseas these days, so some tightening probably is necessary, but a hard-and-fast arbitrary number like 30 is not in the Springboks’ best interests.

Someone like Saracens tighthead prop Vincent Koch is playing unstoppable rugby at the moment, but he has only nine caps and is ineligible after July 1. If a couple of tightheads get injured during the Rugby Championship, how desperate will Coetzee be to select him? He may be forced to go back to Jannie du Plessis.

Ferocious flank Marcell Coetzee is in a similar position, stranded on 28 caps and currently out of action after another knee injury.

Instead of an inflexible rule, it should be left up to the national coach and Coetzee has already expressed his preference for locally-based players unless there is no viable option in a position, which is how it should be.

Hopefully the boring predictability of SuperRugby these days – those playing SuperBru will know this well – will give way to a thrilling Springbok resurgence next month, but there are numerous selection concerns for Allister Coetzee.

The rapid returns of Pat Lambie, Damian de Allende and Juan de Jongh to their best would help, but the lack of in-form options at scrumhalf is also an obvious worry. But let’s hope that the natural flair, tremendous tenacity and game-breaking ability of Faf de Klerk is not ignored. Not blooding Curwin Bosch will be a bad enough waste of talent.




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