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Ken Borland



Powell not happy with untidy 1st quarter, but Sharks immaculate thereafter 0

Posted on September 21, 2023 by Ken

Sharks director of rugby Neil Powell was not happy with an untidy first quarter from his team, but thereafter they were immaculate as they cleaned up the Bulls 47-20 in their United Rugby Championship derby at Kings Park at the weekend.

The Sharks were trailing 6-13 after 20 minutes, but then they focused themselves, they lifted the intensity of their game and they were ruthless in punishing the Bulls’ ill-discipline. By halftime they were leading 30-13.

“We hurt ourselves in the first 20 minutes, we weren’t clinical enough in our exits and we conceded silly penalties, we did some things that were out of character,” Powell said.

“But we definitely stepped things up in the last 10 minutes of the first half, we were more clinical and played in the right areas. A lot of credit must go to our forwards for the way they scrummed and mauled them.

“We could have managed the game better in the first quarter, but in the last 10 minutes of the first half we played really well. We don’t want to be predictable and we took quick-taps and played.

“It is a big win for us, if you look at the log, we needed those five points. This will go a long way for us and it’s especially important winning your home games,” Powell said.

While such a good win would certainly not have warranted the players copping a spray from their coach, Powell pointed out that the continued challenge for the Sharks is consistency – both within the game and from match-to-match.

“As the season goes on, hopefully we will perform like we did at the end of the first half for the whole 80 minutes. We’re trying to get consistent performance right through the 80 minutes,” he said.

One thing in common with all the local URC coaches is how they are painting a picture of how tough January is going to be, and Powell stressed the importance of player-management.

“It’s going to be very important to manage the squad so they are fresh for the knockouts at the end of the season. We will have to give players opportunity and squad rotation will be crucial.

“One player cannot play the whole 11 games in this block of fixtures,” Powell said.

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).

Jake says whether his decision was right or wrong is only going to be decided at the end of the season 0

Posted on July 20, 2023 by Ken

Bulls coach Jake White said whether he was right or wrong to rest his first-choice players from European Champions Cup action and then they still lost to the Stormers in their United Rugby Championship derby in Cape Town is only going to be decided at the end of the season.

Despite bringing a fresh, best-available team to Cape Town to tackle the defending champions, the Bulls were humbled 37-27, allowing critics to wonder whether it was worth sending the second-stringers to Devon last weekend and being soundly beaten by Exeter Chiefs.

“We have five points from two games in the Champions Cup, both us and the Stormers do,” White pointed out. “The decision had nothing to do about today, it was not a measure of whether I was right or wrong.

“We will only measure that by June next year. There was no way the same team could play today after flying 26 hours in economy and only arriving back Monday lunchtime.

“We’ve lost four times in a row now to the Stormers, but we will see in June when we have three competitions on the go. If I was only concerned with European competition then maybe I would have done things differently.

“But my brief as director of rugby comes from a decision made by the board. Next year’s Currie Cup will be played Wednesday-Saturday-Saturday, which is a helluva ask. Plus we only have eight training days in January because of the travel,” White said.

The former Springbok coach said the naivety of his team was a concern, putting it down to inexperience.

“It didn’t help playing 20 minutes with 14 guys, but we showed moments of inexperience, which was disappointing,” White said. “There were four minutes of madness when they scored three of their four tries.

“You can’t say you should have won when you’ve conceded four tries, but our attack was held up on the Stormers’ line a couple of times. The Stormers really stormed the breakdown.

“They would rather concede penalties than the try, and defence coach Norman Laker has been there a long time. In fact their whole coaching staff has been there a long time, so they are much more fluent.

“I don’t enjoy losing, but it’s a complete and utter juggling act at the moment. We are still young, every player in the Stormers pack is older than his Bulls counterpart. We have six guys who are 23 or younger,” White said.

The car’s most definitely back on the road for the Sharks 0

Posted on July 17, 2023 by Ken

If we think of the Sharks team as being a motor vehicle then the car’s most definitely back on the road and starting to gain speed in the fast lane, following their 37-10 victory over the Lions in their United Rugby Championship derby at Kings Park.

That’s not to say the Sharks did not have spluttering moments. They raced into an early 12-0 lead but then did not score another point in nearly half-an-hour, as the Lions were only down 10-15 as the hour-mark loomed. But the home team then put their foot down in the final quarter and roared away to a five-try, bonus point victory.

Sevens legend Frankie Horne once said that Neil Powell took the Blitzboks car for performance enhancements after previous national coach Paul Treu built the car, and Powell seems to be having a similar effect as director of rugby at the Sharks. They have now won four matches in a row since he took over the head coaching duties, and they played some great rugby against the Lions, their ball-retention and direct attacking style being superb at times.

“We’re obviously always pushing for the perfect game and we had glimpses this evening, but unfortunately we couldn’t keep it up for 80 minutes,” Powell said after the win which lifted the Sharks to sixth on the URC log, but with at least one game in hand over all the teams above them.

“The first 15-20 minutes were exhilarating, but then a couple of soft moments let the Lions back in. Once you give away momentum, it’s difficult to get back.

“But it was another step in the right direction and we know where we can improve. But it’s been great to see the improvement over the last four games, especially the effort in defence.

“At times we were really good, we definitely respected the ball a lot more and asked questions of the opposition defence. Getting through phases was definitely one of our work-ons,” Powell said.

The things Powell said the Sharks could improve on were the stupid mistakes just as they had seized control of the match and being even more patient on attack.

“There were three individual errors after we went 12-0 up and at times the players went out of the structure,” Powell said.

“We can also be a lot more patient on attack inside the 22, it feels as if we’re almost rushing ourselves.

“But we managed the game well in general and only conceded one try. We’re starting to believe that we can be successful in the URC and the EPCR,” Powell 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

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