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Ken Borland

Sharks comfortably see off Benetton Treviso but lack assurance 0

Posted on April 01, 2022 by Ken

The Sharks saw off Benetton Treviso comfortably enough, 24-7, in their United Rugby Championship match at the Stadio Monigo on Saturday night, but it was a performance lacking assurance and they only managed to secure the bonus point in the 79th minute after scoring three tries in the first half.

A diffident, careless second half

Having led 21-0 at halftime, and enjoying 60% of possession and territory, the Sharks were left defending for vast stretches of the second half. Benetton admittedly lifted their intensity in their second half and travel fatigue may have been a factor for the Sharks. But the Springbok-laden visitors lacked direction and fluency in the second half, flyhalf Curwin Bosch not really fulfilling his role as a general.

Am & Fassi’s attacking genius the Sharks’ inlet into the game

The Sharks, despite dominating territory and possession in the first half, battled to break down a well-organised Benetton team. It was the magic produced by outside centre Lukhanyo Am and fullback Aphelele Fassi that provided them with the key incisions.

A wonderful run by Am that saw him knife through a maze of defenders ended with midfield partner Marius Louw stopped just short of the line. But from a five-metre scrum, lock Ruben van Heerden then scored.

The Sharks’ second try, in the 26th minute, came thanks to Fassi showing superb feet down the left touchline when he did not have much space to work with.

The Sharks’ bonus point try, with just a minute left in the match, was again provided by Am with his long pass out wide to Sbu Nkosi finding the powerful wing outside his man.

More refereeing bad luck

South Africans do tend to blame refereeing for most things going wrong on a rugby field. But our complaints about inconsistent officiating certainly seem justified given the range of baffling decisions being experienced in Europe.

While referee Andrew Brace was excellent overall, he denied the Sharks what became a crucial try in the third quarter, ruling there was separation between the hand and the ball when prop Ox Nche dotted down after great charges by him and fellow front-rower Thomas du Toit. Replay after replay failed to show what the referee had seemingly seen and talked his TMO into accepting.

It was a momentum-shifting call as Benetton then piled on the pressure, leading to Am being yellow-carded and the home side’s only try, scored by lock Carl Wegner from close range.

Credit to Benetton

The Italians have lost most of their side to their national squad and were fielding several academy players and even some drawn from other clubs. Their scrum was particularly hard hit, but put in a gutsy performance, only conceding a couple of penalties. Against such a star-studded team, their hearts were definitely in the contest and Benetton Treviso deserve credit for making the Sharks look ordinary for long stretches.


Benetton Treviso: Try – Carl Wegner. Conversion – Tomas Albornoz.

Sharks: Tries – Ruben van Heerden, Aphelele Fassi, Phepsi Buthelezi, Sbu Nkosi. Conversions – Curwin Bosch (3). Penalty – Bosch.

Bulls have not lost any momentum despite struggling to put away last 2 opponents – Botha 0

Posted on September 13, 2021 by Ken

Since comfortably dispatching the Lions 48-21 at Ellis Park four weeks ago, the Bulls have struggled to put away the other two teams who did not make the Currie Cup semi-finals – the Pumas and the Cheetahs. But Arno Botha, captain for those three matches, says he does not believe his team have lost any momentum ahead of their knockout game against Western Province in Pretoria on Friday night.

The Bulls needed their set-piece prowess to squeeze past an adventurous, passionate Pumas side 33-26 in Nelspruit, and then struggled to an uninspired, messy 39-36 win over the fast-finishing Free State Cheetahs at Loftus Versfeld last weekend.

“I don’t think we have lost any momentum. We need to look at a couple of technical things, we had a few slip-ups, but individuals have put their hands up, myself included, for those. They are small things that are easy to fix, coming from just a momentary lack of effort or concentration. Rugby is never going to be easy every week – we would have lost if we thought that,” Botha said.

“We have a very strong group of leaders who are very relaxed, but we all take responsibility. Being defending champions doesn’t matter, we always want to win every game and our focus is really just on one thing and that’s this weekend’s semifinal. We don’t look too far ahead, but we’re in a good place and looking forward to what’s coming.”

The hero of last year’s Currie Cup final triumph with two tries, Botha has been very much the senior statesman in the pack, which is young and extraordinarily willing. And nothing much damages the confidence of the hugely exciting crop of youngsters currently at Loftus Versfeld.

“When I go back to when I was 21 or 22, we were not where this group of youngsters is now, they are so far in front of where we were back in 2012. They are already comfortable in the system, some of them have played in a Currie Cup final already. You’re no longer young as a rugby player as soon as you lift that trophy and we are all learning so much from each other,” the tough Springbok loose forward said.

Argentina bear the brunt of the Bok game-plan at close to its best 0

Posted on September 06, 2021 by Ken

Argentina bore the brunt of the Springbok game-plan at close to its clinical best at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday, as South Africa comfortably dispatched them 29-10 in their second Rugby Championship Test.

The Springboks led 15-3 at halftime thanks to flyhalf Handre Pollard’s faultless goalkicking that saw him convert five penalties. With Argentina softened up for the kill in the second half, South Africa duly hammered home their advantage with two tries.

The home side exerted consistent pressure on the Pumas, their maul being particularly effective, and the visitors’ discipline was terrible under the strain as they conceded 13 penalties in the first half alone. Five of those were within the range of Pollard, who made sure Argentina were suitably punished.

The Springboks did some good things on attack, but their efforts were often stymied by the opposition’s negative tactics that killed the momentum. It took until the 32nd minute for referee Karl Dickson, who was overall accomplished with the whistle, to hand out a yellow card, eighthman Rodrigo Bruni being temporarily sent off after being offsdes and then blatantly slowing down the ball on the ground.

The Springboks opened the scoring in the second half with a superb try. They were fortunate to win the lineout, but wing Cheslin Kolbe had been at the front of the set-piece and it was the wing who took the inside pass and made the initial break. There were also good carries by scrumhalf Cobus Reinach and centre Damian de Allende, before fullback Willie le Roux popped up in the backline to keep the move going and then sprinted around to make the final pass to wing Makazole Mapimpi to score the try.

Six minutes later, Pollard produced an excellent penalty kick into the corner, back ball was won at the lineout, a powerful maul rumbled forward and impressive hooker Malcolm Marx dotted down for the try.

The Springboks were 29-3 up going into the final quarter and they will be disappointed that they did not score again, failing to get the bonus point. They tried their best after the final whistle to get the third try, but instead conceded penalties and it was Argentina who had the final say as flank Pablo Matera bashed and then spun over the line to score, after replacement lock Marco Kremer’s strong carry had been stopped short.

One could pardon the Springboks for some of their scrappiness as numerous changes in personnel were made, outstanding lock Lood de Jager, the man of the match, came off with cramp and Bongi Mbonambi, coming on for Marx, struggled with his lineout throwing. Jaden Hendrikse, replacing Reinach, also had to leave the field after twisting an ankle when he was tackled, forcing Kolbe to play scrumhalf and depriving the home side of attacking fluency.


South Africa: Tries – Makazole Mapimpi, Malcolm Marx. Conversions – Handre Pollard (2). Penalties – Pollard (5).

Argentina: Try – Pablo Matera. Conversion – Nicolas Sanchez. Penalty – Domingo Miotti.

Adams gives Titans security; bowlers complete win 0

Posted on January 05, 2015 by Ken


The Unlimited Titans bowlers, given the security of the Qaasim Adams-inspired total of 176 for seven, comfortably completed the team’s second victory in this season’s RamSlam T20 Challenge as they beat the Sunfoil Dolphins by 19 runs at Willowmoore Park in Benoni last night.

Leg-spinner Shaun von Berg was named as the bowler of the match, taking two wickets in the 12th over, Cody Chetty (28) holing out at cow-corner and Andile Phehlukwayo (1) being bowled through the gate by the next delivery.

But seamers Darren Sammy, Junior Dala and David Wiese were also outstanding and just as instrumental in the win.

Dala may not be known to many people but the fast bowler has tremendous potential and an unorthodox action, bowling with great pace up front as his first three overs cost 14 runs and included the wicket of Dolphins captain Morne van Wyk, who he bounced out for seven. Dala then bowled the final over of the match and conceded just nine runs, which included a six off the last ball.

Sammy ended the last lingering hopes of the Dolphins when he removed fellow West Indian Dwayne Bravo, who was living dangerously but effectively for his 34 off 18 balls, and Khaya Zondo (25) on his way to excellent figures of two for 29, while Wiese conceded just eight runs with the new ball in his first two overs, claiming the wicket of Jonathan Vandiar (3), and also bowled well in the closing overs.

The Dolphins were always up against it once Vaughn van Jaarsveld was caught in the deep off debutant Sammy Mofokeng for a run-a-ball 32 in the 11th over.

The Titans were in early trouble after winning the toss and choosing to bat first, with thunder and lightning in the air, as Theunis de Bruyn and Graeme van Buuren were both dismissed for a single.

But Henry Davids, the competition’s leading run-scorer, was looking secure on a pitch that certainly had something in it for the bowlers, cruising to a run-a-ball 32.

But it was Adams who provided the foundation for the innings with his brilliant 76 off 53 balls, showing solid ball-striking as he collected nine fours and two sixes and won the batsman of the match award.

Sammy certainly holds the bragging rights over Bravo as he hit him for two important sixes in the final over of the innings, while Heinrich Klaasen (19) and Wiese (17) shared in important partnerships with Adams in the closing overs.

Paceman Craig Alexander was the best of the Dolphins bowlers with two for 24 in his four overs.

The Titans have now moved into fifth place in the standings, on 11 points with the Warriors, while the Dolphins are in freefall after a solid start. Their third successive loss and fifth in total leaves them on 12 points and clinging on precariously to fourth place, five points behind the Knights.


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