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Ken Borland

Sharks have become hot property in dramatic turnaround 0

Posted on September 26, 2023 by Ken

One of the great characteristics of rugby is how quickly a team’s fortunes can turn around and the Sharks have gone, in the space of a month, from being a beleaguered team on the defensive to hot property that looks capable of challenging for silverware.

At the beginning of December, the Sharks had just axed coach Sean Everitt and were retreating into a laager as director of rugby Neil Powell tried to fend off questions about the decision and even refused to talk about Siya Kolisi apparently being injured.

But they have started January with a thumping over the Bulls, their nemeses for the last couple of years, and they have charged up into the top five of the United Rugby Championship log, with games in hand on everyone above them, as well as winning their opening two Champions Cup matches.

The strong run has coincided with Kolisi finding the sort of rampaging form that he regularly brings to the Springboks, and Eben Etzebeth, Bongi Mbonambi and Makazole Mapimpi have also lived up to their billing as world-class internationals.

The amount of power the Sharks have when at full-strength is enough to make electricians beam with joy and Bulls coach Jake White pinpointed this as the key factor when his side was overwhelmed at Kings Park at the weekend.

But the Sharks’ biggest challenge might well be coming up. Because of the hectic schedule involving two European competitions, Powell is going to have to unplug and recharge some of those Springboks due to their workloads. Can the Sharks still maintain a push for at least one title after shedding their star players?

They have two crucial matches coming up against the Stormers in February and March, and those thrilling encounters will go a long way to deciding who wins the South African Shield in the URC.

It has also been wonderful to see the reception the Sharks’ resurgence has received from their supporters, with especially large crowds at Kings Park over the last two weekends, with around 50 000 spectators in total over the two matches against the Lions and Bulls over the festive season.

1-0 down in a 3-Test series: Springboks know what they have to do 0

Posted on August 23, 2021 by Ken

Being 1-0 down in a three-Test series, the Springboks know what they have to do in the coming week: they simply have to find a way to win the second Test against the British and Irish Lions next Saturday and coach Jacques Nienaber believes they are still capable of doing this.

“The series is definitely salvageable next weekend, we have to, there’s no other choice. The things that have been highlighted are definitely things we can sort out – our mauls, our kicking game and the aerial contest. We also need to step up at the breakdown and we had a big discussion about our discipline, it was sad that that was highlighted at halftime and then it wasn’t great in the second half,” Nienaber said.

Scrumhalf Faf de Klerk echoed his coach’s determination that the Springboks have the capacity to win the second Test, also in Cape Town, and level the series.

“It’s not ideal losing the first Test but there are still two to go and I’m sure we can pull it back. There are a lot of things to get right, but a few of the guys had not played rugby for a bit. In the first half we played really well, we got a lot of balls back from our kicking game, we were getting good outcomes. But in the second half the Lions got the loose balls in the aerial contest.

“The Lions are a quality side and the other challenge was that the guys that came off the bench for them are as good if not better that the players they replaced. Our discipline just slipped in the second half and if we could replay the first five minutes after halftime then the match would probably have had a different outcome. But we are a proud team and we will definitely make sure we rectify our mistakes,” De Klerk said.

Another area South Africa need to look at is their bench, which had surprisingly little impact, even though Nienaber denied they had adulterated the Springbok effort, saying he was “not disappointed in them”.

The starting front row of Ox Nche, Trevor Nyakane and Bongi Mbonambi had had an excellent first half, but they were replaced en masse at the start of the second half, which turned out to be a big mistake. Nche did express some surprise that he had been taken off, particularly since he had been standing up very well to highly-rated tighthead Tadhg Furlong in the scrums.

“I didn’t think the Bomb Squad would come on that early. We practise for a full game, that’s our fitness levels. But whatever the coaches feel is right is what we go with. I did my homework on Furlong because I knew how highly-rated he is. So I knew how he scrummed, I was prepared,” Nche said.

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    Philemon 1:7 – “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.”

    “Every disciple of Jesus has a capacity for love. The most effective way to serve the Master is to share his love with others. Love can comfort, save the lost, and offer hope to those who need it. It can break down barriers, build bridges, establish relationships and heal wounds.” – A Shelter From The Storm, Solly Ozrovech

    If there’s a frustrating vacuum in your spiritual life and you fervently desire to serve the Lord but don’t know how you’re meant to do that, then start by loving others in his name.


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