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Ken Borland



Lions take luck involved with tombola machine pitch out of the equation with brilliant all-round display 0

Posted on April 17, 2024 by Ken

The DP World Lions men’s team took the luck involved on a pitch that produced deliveries like a tombola machine out of the equation with a brilliant all-round display to beat the Momentum Multiply Titans by five wickets at SuperSport Park on Saturday and so ensuring that they will host the final for the four-day cup against World Sports Betting Western Province next week.

The Lions managed to chase down a testing target of 161 with relative comfort, Ryan Rickelton steering them to victory with 64 not out, an innings that married fierce determination with some fine strokeplay as the left-hander collected seven fours and a six.

Rickelton received considerable assistance from Wiaan Mulder (40), the pair adding 85 for the fourth wicket to repel a final push for victory for the Titans, who had reduced them to 32 for three with the new ball. Delano Potgieter (12*) helped the Proteas batsman add the last 43 runs required for the win.

Partnerships had also been key in the first innings, allowing the #PrideOfJozi to take a crucial 66-run lead. A brilliantly tenacious century by opener Josh Richards provided the foundation of the innings, but he had fabulous support from the middle-order.

Coming in at 51 for three, Mulder played an innings of some class in scoring 55 and adding 95 for the fourth wicket with Richards. Mitchell van Buuren then scored a wonderfully-controlled 58 and added another 83 for the fifth wicket with Richards, before Van Buuren and Potgieter (29) added another 62 for the sixth wicket. Those partnerships built such a handy lead that it did not matter that the Lions lost their last five wickets for two runs.

The DP World Lions had lost an important toss on a pitch that already showed inconsistent bounce and some pronounced movement on the first day, but their bowling attack produced two excellent displays as a unit to dismiss the Titans for just 227 and then 226.

Lutho Sipamla, playing his first Lions match this season after a back injury, made a superb comeback with four for 48 in the first innings, and Codi Yusuf made life very hard for the batsmen with four for 81 in the second. Potgieter picked up five wickets across the two innings.

But Richards was the main hero of the tremendous display by our Pride. On a pitch on which the steepling bounce of the new ball made it as dangerous as facing beamers, the 25-year-old played an innings of great courage. He spent an hour in gloomy light on the first evening fending off the express pace of Junior Dala and Corbin Bosch, then had to get himself in again on the second morning (the ball always doing more in the first session at SuperSport Park) before gradually playing with more and more fluency as he scored 107 in five-and-a-quarter hours, off 201 balls.

A beaming Richards said after the triumph that it had been the best of his 11 first-class centuries.

“It’s probably number one on the list, taking into account the attack it was against, the fact it was in essentially a semi-final, how the pitch played and how my season had gone,” Richards said.

“Obviously the ball moved around quite a bit and there was inconsistent bounce. The new ball was very difficult, it really came through. I just told myself to leave well and move as late as possible, keep batting as simple as possible.

“To get through that period on the first evening was great, I was hit on the hand and it was challenging. But I just tried to watch the ball as closely as I could. I told myself that I can’t change the conditions so I just have to deal with it.

“Credit to the guys for the very crucial partnerships in the middle there, especially on a wicket like this, those were golden.”

Richards also praised the DP World Lions bowlers for keeping the Titans batsmen on the hop.

“The bowlers had it very tough last week on a docile, flat pitch, and they had to bowl 225 overs. As a unit they’ve been exceptional and they’re the ones who keep putting us in a great position, so hats off to them.”

The beers are still on ice, however, in the Pride’s changeroom as they look forward to a massive final against Western Province at the DP World Wanderers Stadium from Wednesday, head coach Russell Domingo ensuring they keep their feet on the ground despite the memorable win at Centurion.

“We’re all very excited to be in the final, particularly after how we started this season. We’ve gone from strength to strength and we’re playing a lot better now. It was not how we wanted to start, but it’s how you finish that matters,” Richards said.

“Russell reminded us now in the changeroom though that we have not won anything yet. We will have to front up again next week, hit the ground running again from Monday, because we start afresh on zero against Western Province.”

Bordeaux-Begles may be languishing, but they are no mugs – Powell 0

Posted on May 23, 2023 by Ken

Bordeaux-Begles may have lost to Gloucester last weekend and may be languishing mid-table in the French Top 14 league, but they are no mugs and Sharks coach Neil Powell knows his team have to improve on their impressive display against Harlequins if they are to win their second Champions Cup match at Stade Chaban-Delmas on Friday night.

Although Powell rated the 39-31 victory last weekend against Quins as the Sharks’ “best performance so far this season”, taking on a French team, who can pack more than half of their side with internationals, at home, is going to require something even better in order to get the victory.

“It was our best performance so far this season, we were fully in control at 32-14, but then the cards made it challenging,” Powell said on Thursday. “We showed amazing character to hold on with 13 men for 10 minutes and for seven minutes with 14 players.

“But we do want to improve. Maybe we could be a bit more physical and dominant in the tackle area, that’s definitely going to be important against Bordeaux.

“We kicked pretty well last weekend, but we have to make sure we stick to our plan in terms of the kicking game, we will have to adapt the plan against Harlequins a bit because Bordeaux kick more long balls than contestables.

“It’s about looking at who the opposition are and the weather forecast, and working out how we want to play. We need to adapt week-to-week, but it’s not about changing the whole game-plan, just doing one or two things a bit differently,” Powell said.

Much of the Sharks’ strategy will once again be about disrupting the opposition set-pieces, and although loosehead Ox Nche is out due to the three-week suspension he received for his red card against Quins, tighthead Thomas du Toit is back after his ban picked up on Springbok duty.

“It’s going to be important that we have a strong scrum against Bordeaux, that could be one area for us to target,” Powell smiled.

“It’s a pity Ox is not available because he adds a lot, but we all believe in Ntuthuko Mchunu and it’s a great opportunity for him.”

If the Sharks do get dominance up front, then the last quarter could see some attacking flair being sparked by none other than World Player of the Year nominee Lukhanyo Am, who will return to play off the bench after knee surgery in early September.

“It’s important to get Luke back on the field and give him a fair bit of time off the bench. He’s a quality player with x-factor who can create opportunities out of nothing.

“He might be a bit rusty, but I am keen to see what sort of form he is in and hopefully he enjoys his 20 minutes or so off the bench,” Powell said.

Sharks Boeta Chamberlain, Werner Kok, Francois Venter, Ben Tapuai, Makazole Mapimpi, Curwin Bosch, Jaden Hendrikse, Phepsi Buthelezi, Vincent Tshituka, Siya Kolisi (c), Gerbrandt Grobler, Eben Etzebeth, Thomas du Toit, Bongi Mbonambi, Ntuthuko Mchunu. Bench: Dan Jooste, Dian Bleuler, Hanro Jacobs, Hyron Andrews, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Grant Williams, Lionel Cronje, Lukhanyo Am.

Advisable not to watch Sharks at the moment; ugly win over Ospreys 0

Posted on March 29, 2023 by Ken

It’s probably advisable not to watch the Sharks play rugby at the moment because it’s a bit like watching someone struggle with a serious illness in hospital; their latest display being an ugly 25-10 win over the Ospreys at Kings Park in which they scored 14 points in the last three minutes.

The sacking of head coach Sean Everitt was not the instant panacea some people expected it would be, as the Sharks were still severely lacking in polish, error-ridden in the red zone and disorganised on attack. The fact that they were only leading by one point at home after 76 minutes against a side that had won just one of their previous eight matches says it all.

Of greatest concern was the number of basic errors they made, far too many to be considered serious contenders for any silverware.

That the Sharks had more than enough chances to put the Ospreys away was thanks to the utter dominance of their scrum and their excellent defence leading to several turnovers at the breakdown.

And yet, despite enjoying 60% of possession and territory in the first half, they could only lead 6-0 at the break through two Curwin Bosch penalties. The flyhalf was playing his first URC game of the season after a fractured arm in pre-season, and showed enough glimpses of class to suggest the Sharks should persevere with him in the No.10 jersey.

The Sharks were then rocked soon after the break when Ospreys scored a try of genuine quality. Eighthman Morgan Morris and prop Rhys Henry burst clear from a lineout inside their own half, and then there was great work down the short side by the forwards, leading to scrumhalf Matthew Aubrey being stopped just short of the line by a great Bosch tackle. The ball was recycled though and flyhalf Jack Walsh put in an excellent crosskick for wing Luke Morgan to score.

The Sharks did at least provide a prim and proper response as flank Sikhumbuzo Notshe turned over possession from the restart and then scored from close range after a maul.

Despite their dominance, the Sharks were left with a really nervous finish as the replacement front row conceded a scrum penalty and Morris forced his way between two poor tackles on the tryline to score and close the gap to just one point again with 13 minutes remaining.

The Sharks did at least finish strongly, sealing the win in the 77th minute as Bosch ran around to find a hole in the defence and score after the forwards had bashed away at close range against a stout Ospreys defence. Replacement flank James Venter then added some gravy as he forced his way over for a try.

But there was little for director of rugby and new head coach Neil Powell to feel comfortable about.

Scorers

SharksTries: Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Curwin Bosch, James Venter. Conversions: Bosch (2). Penalties: Bosch (2).

OspreysTries: Luke Morgan, Morgan Morris.

Titans gain big lead & bought themselves plenty of time to win 0

Posted on March 13, 2023 by Ken

Sibonelo Makhanya top-scored for Northerns Titans as they gained a formidable lead.

The Northerns Titans gained a 171-run first-innings lead and bought themselves plenty of time to win too with a positive batting display on the second day of their CSA 4-Day Series match against the North-West Dragons at Centurion on Monday.

Having bowled North-West out for just 148 on the first day of the match, Northerns resumed on 18 for one on Monday and batted at 3.91 runs-per-over to post 319 and give themselves a formidable advantage.

They had already claimed a wicket in the North-West second innings by stumps, Matthew Boast having Lesego Senokwane (4) caught in the slips, edging an expansive drive at an away-swinger. The visitors closed on 24 for one as bad light intervened, still trailing by 147 runs.

Left-handed opener Neil Brand set the tone for the Titans up front on Monday, stroking a brisk 54, but it was a fourth-wicket partnership of 89 in 19 overs between Sibonelo Makhanya and Dewald Brevis that gave Northerns control of the game.

Makhanya, given his seniority, played the more responsible role, setting up the innings with his 71 off 134 balls, including 13 fours. But Brevis really took on the North-West bowlers, hammering a dashing 56 off just 64 deliveries, with nine fours and a six.

Brevis had just gone to his maiden first-class half-century with a six, when he sold his wicket to left-arm spinner Senuran Muthusamy, skying an attempted slog-sweep into the covers.

Muthusamy then capitalised on some more adventurous strokeplay by the lower-order, reducing Northerns from 182 for three to 280 for nine.

Aya Gqamane then produced the most exciting batting of the day as he plundered 40 not out off just 32 deliveries, hitting seven fours and a six.

Muthusamy showed his class though as he wrapped up the innings with six for 62 in 24.4 overs.

Lions

The Central Gauteng Lions had to suck up a lot of pressure on a tough second day of their final CSA 4-Day Series match against the KZN Dolphins in Potchefstroom on Monday, with Lutho Sipamla leading a fine fightback with the ball.

The Dolphins began the second day well-placed on 181 for two, but lost their last eight wickets for just 148 runs to be all out for 329. Sipamla, tightening his grip on the batsmen like a python, claimed two early wickets as the visitors slipped to 197 for five.

Angling the ball into the left-handed Sarel Erwee from around the wicket and then just straightening it a touch, Sipamla had the Proteas opener caught behind for 78.

With his next delivery, Sipamla cramped Khaya Zondo, another Protea, with extra bounce just outside off-stump, leading to a catch at first slip.

Marques Ackerman (97) and Eathan Bosch (63) gave KZN some breathing space with their sixth-wicket stand of 111, before Sipamla returned to break the partnership.

The Proteas paceman surprised Ackerman with some extra bounce, having him caught behind, although the catch was such a dolly that the bowler himself was calling for it.

A full and straight delivery then trapped Prenelan Subrayen lbw and Sipamla had Daryn Dupavillon caught in the slips to finish with highly praiseworthy figures of five for 71 in 23 overs.

In reply, openers Josh Richards (47) and Dominic Hendricks (17) provided yet another solid start for the Lions, adding 55 before Thando Ntini shattered the top-order with a destructive three-wicket burst.

Mitchell van Buuren (22) and Connor Esterhuizen (36) steadied the ship as they batted for more than 20 overs in adding 46 for the fifth wicket.

Tailenders Malusi Siboto (18*) and Sipamla (12) also dug in as the Lions reached 171 for eight at stumps.

WP v EP

At Newlands, Wynberg Boys High product Siya Plaatjie demolished the Western Province lower-order, his sensational five for 19 in 11 overs sending them crashing from 195 for four to 198 all out, giving the Eastern Province Warriors a 154-run first-innings lead.

Zubayr Hamza (54) and George Linde (63) seemed to have matters under control before paceman Plaatjie ran amok.

The Warriors, having scored 352 in their first innings, were 53 for one at stumps, leading by 207.

In Paarl, Matthew Kleinveldt suffered the distress of being stranded on a career-best, great effort of 199 not out when the Free State Knights were bowled out for 493 by the Boland Rocks.

Opener Kleinveldt carried his bat with a monumental 389-ball effort, while Gihahn Cloete also played plenty of fine strokes as he struck a breezy 122 and Migael Pretorius contributed a hard-hit 56.

Leg-spinner Shaun von Berg took five for 101 in 29 overs, but could not prevent his Rocks team from conceding a massive first innings deficit of 281.

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