for quality writing

Ken Borland



Bulls listed in last 16 of Champions Cup after good win, but made life hard for themselves 0

Posted on January 21, 2024 by Ken

Bulls captain Marcell Coetzee carried strongly and scored two tries as his team overcame Bordeaux-Begles to ensure a place in the last 16 of the Champions Cup.
Photo: Christiaan Kotze (Gallo Images)

A 46-40 victory over group winners Bordeaux-Begles has ensured the Bulls will be listed in the final 16 of the Champions Cup, and coach Jake White is delighted by that, but he did admit to being a little bemused by how hard they made life for themselves at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday afternoon.

The Bulls scored six tries, some of them absolutely brilliant, with flank Marcell Coetzee going over twice and wing Devon Williams, centre David Kriel, fullback Willie le Roux and scrumhalf Embrose Papier, with a superb individual effort, also getting on the try-scorers’ list. Flyhalf Johan Goosen converted five of the tries and his replacement, Jaco van der Walt, kicked two crucial late penalties.

Bordeaux-Begles also scored six tries, taking two bonus points from the match, which was enough to confirm they will finish top of the group.

The Bulls twice found themselves in a rock-solid position of dominance, leading 21-7 after 26 minutes and then 40-21 after 53 minutes, but on both occasions their concentration and game-management wobbled and they ended up letting the quality Bordeaux side back in the game.

It was the home side’s replacements who saw out the final quarter, their strong ball-carrying earning them the two penalties that enabled them to just hold off the French challenge.

“We did make it difficult for ourselves and maybe at halftime we started to think about winning by 36 points because that would have seen us top the pool if Bordeaux didn’t get any bonus points,” White admitted afterwards.

“Maybe we were seduced into that style of play, it became like a sevens game and that probably helped Bordeaux, who are a good team. This is such a big competition and there are very small margins, those are the things we need to be sharper on.

“But I can’t be cross with the team, we had four forwards under the age of 22. This is the next step to Test rugby and the only way the team is going to learn to cope with these sort of situations is by going through it. We need to be more streetwise, but that comes with time. When we have our debrief, we’ll look at what some of the best options should have been.

“But I’m obviously still very proud of the win and scoring 46 points versus Bordeaux, they don’t often concede that many and they have been dominant in France. So I’m happy and it’s nice to learn when you’ve won,” White said.

The Bulls gave the visitors, on an eight-match winning streak, a ferocious welcome as eighthman Cameron Hanekom was ruled to have just lost the ball over the line and tighthead prop Carlu Sadie was yellow-carded for a ruck offence. After seven minutes, the Bulls were finally on the board as Coetzee went over from a tap-penalty.

Bordeaux equalised six minutes later when fullback Romain Buros knifed through to score, but the Bulls then thrilled the crowd of more than 10 000 with a superbly-executed try off a lineout. Strong carries by hooker Jan-Hendrik Wessels and lock Ruan Nortje were followed by a lovely pass out wide from Goosen to Williams, who scampered over for the try.

Coetzee forced his way over for a second try on 26 minutes, but in the last 10 minutes, the Bulls had to call on all their scrambling ability in defence as Bordeaux put them under severe pressure following prop Gerhard Steenekamp’s yellow card for ruck offences.

The Bulls did concede a try to lock Adam Coleman, but half-time beckoned with them still in the lead, 21-14, and then they added a vital score against the run of play. Stedman Gans sparked the counter with a half-break and lovely offload to Le Roux, who was through the gap in a flash and then threw a pinpoint pass to Kriel, who went all the way from long range.

The 26-14 lead would have pleased White, and the try that opened the second half would have delighted him even more. Goosen produced a brilliant up-and-under despite being under big pressure from two defenders, wing Sebastian de Klerk made a fine aerial win and Kriel then made the initial break before Le Roux was, as is his trademark, in the right place at the right time to score.

Papier’s try was a brilliant piece of individual play as his team presented him with untidy, backfoot ball, but the scrumhalf spotted a hole in the defence and raced through it before swerving past the cover defence to dot down.

But White would have then been po-faced as Bordeaux scored three times in the next 15 minutes. But the smile was back as his team held on for a good win.

With Saracens beating Olympique Lyon later on Saturday night, the Bulls remained second in the final group standings and will have a home match in the last 16.

Ironically, White believes finishing second and getting a home match in the last 16 could boomerang on the Bulls.

“I would love to have a home knockout game in this competition, but that means we will play Dragons and Leinster away in the URC, come back for a home last-16 Champions Cup match and then an away quarterfinal before coming back to Loftus to play Munster.

“It will be helluva tough flying back and forth like that. But the nice thing is it shows the improvement and growth we’ve had in the Champions Cup. There is belief that we can win it, but we also need to understand that the big guns are now coming.

“It will be teams where 20 of the 23 are internationals playing against youngsters who are still growing and learning the ropes. I’m a realist and this competition now goes on steroids,” White said.

Scorers

BullsTries: Marcell Coetzee (2), Devon Williams, David Kriel, Willie le Roux, Embrose Papier. Conversions: Johan Goosen (5). Penalties: Jaco van der Walt (2).

Bordeaux-BeglesTries: Romain Buros, Adam Coleman, Madosh Tambwe, Tevita Tatafu (2), Paul Adadie. Conversions: Zack Holmes (3), Mateo Garcia (2).

Tidy stand between Hamza & Van Buuren ends the day well for Lions 0

Posted on December 21, 2023 by Ken

Zubayr Hamza could afford to be all smiles after the second day at the Wanderers.

A tidy unbeaten partnership of 82 for the fourth wicket between Zubayr Hamza and Mitchell van Buuren ensured the Central Gauteng Lions ended the second day of their CSA 4-Day Domestic Series match against the KZN Inland Tuskers on a much better note at the Wanderers on Thursday.

The slick batting of Hamza and Van Buuren took the Lions to 125 for three at stumps, bringing some stability on what had been a tough, weather-shortened day for the home side.

The Tuskers began the day on 252 for six, and they managed to make it to 345 all out, a useful score at the Wanderers. Number eight Malcom Nofal was the dominant figure in the morning as he stroked 71 off 102 balls, piling on the frustration for the Lions as he added 52 for the seventh wicket with Cameron Shekleton (24) and then 34 for the ninth wicket with Alindile Mhletywa (20).

A two-hour thundershower interrupted the mopping up of the visitors’ innings, spinner Bjorn Fortuin doing the job and finishing with impressive figures of 35-11-65-3. Pacemen Duanne Olivier and Tshepo Moreki also took three wickets apiece.

The Lions then came out to bat with the pitch undoubtedly spruced up by all the moisture and its time under the covers, and they immediately found themselves locked in a tense battle with the fired-up Tuskers new-ball pair of Keith Dudgeon and Thando Ntini.

The hosts were reduced to 16 for two at tea as Josh Richards was caught behind off Ntini for seven and fellow opener Mohamed Manack, on debut, was trapped lbw by Dudgeon for 2.

Ryan Rickelton briefly broke out of his cell with a run-a-ball 20 before he was also trapped in front by Dudgeon, leaving the Lions in danger on 37 for three.

Van Buuren initially batted like a bollard in defying the KZN Inland bowlers, but he then made short work of any loose bowling as he cruised to 37 not out off 71 balls.

Hamza, his strokes thick with class, was able to post his 15th franchise half-century, coming off just 68 deliveries, shortly before the close, which came after the second of two delays for bad light, with seven fours.

T20 auctions will be searching for Klaasen, as he showcases new game with pared down options 0

Posted on September 15, 2023 by Ken

Heinrich Klaasen heaves another boundary in his record-breaking innings against Australia.

Heinrich Klaasen ensured that he will remain one of the most sought-after players in whatever T20 league auctions he wishes to put his name forward for with a breathtaking, extraordinary innings at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Friday that blew Australia away and allowed South Africa to level the ODI series at 2-2.

Klaasen plundered 174 off just 83 deliveries to lead the Proteas, who had been sent in to bat, to an imposing 416 for five. Australia were then bowled out for 252, as South Africa registered their second biggest victory over their great rivals, triumphing by 164 runs.

The first half of the Proteas innings was a cautious affair as the top-order never seemed entirely sure what a two-paced pitch that also provided some nibble off the seam was going to do. After 25 overs, the score was 120 for two, Quinton de Kock (45), Reeza Hendricks (28) and Rassie van der Dussen (62 off 65 balls) having done a fine job in laying a solid platform.

The first ball of the 26th over saw Aiden Markram (8) caught at extra cover off Michael Neser, bringing Klaasen to the crease. Even though he breezed to a 38-ball half-century, he did not look as though he had hit top gear.

In fact, as Klaasen said later, it was actually Van der Dussen’s aggression that provided the spark. The pair of Pretoria-born batsmen had added 74 off 59 balls for the fourth wicket when Van der Dussen was caught behind attacking Josh Hazlewood, leaving South Africa on 194 for four in the 35th over.

What followed was utter mayhem as Klaasen and David Miller (82 not out off 45 balls) lashed another 222 runs off just 100 deliveries, including a scarcely-believable 173 runs in the last 10 overs. From eyeing 300 to hoping for 350 and then totally exceeding that too, it was an onslaught that brought back memories of the famous 438 game against the same rivals down the road at the Wanderers in 2006.

Remarkably, the Australian attack actually did not bowl as badly as the figures suggest. It was just that whatever plan they came up with for the rampant Klaasen, the 32-year-old had an answer and it almost always involved a boundary. He hit 13 fours and 13 sixes in less than two hours of batting. Middle-stump yorkers were blasted back over bowlers’ heads; full and wide deliveries were steered with an open blade over backward point.

And, counter-intuitively given how he seemed to have a shot for every delivery, Klaasen said his success these last couple of years is down to him actually decreasing the number of options he employs.

“In the last few years, the turning point for me has been taking a lot of options out of my bag. When I was young, you look up to a guy like AB de Villiers and you try and play all the shots.

“But the genius is in knowing when to play them. Like a golfer who’s trying to hit the green every time, you have to stick to the game-plan and use the right clubs. Now I have three different options for every game and I play every ball as it is, I don’t try and recap the previous ball.

“I didn’t know how many sixes I had hit, which shows I was only focused on the next moment, my mind was in the right space. I went through a bad phase in my career when I was taking a risk too early in my innings and I ended up being dropped from the Proteas.

“I came back to my domestic team [Titans] and my coaches [Mark Boucher, Richard das Neves and Matthew Reuben] said I’m using too many options. Richard and Matthew have done lots of work throwing thousands of balls at me, and Albie Morkel has also given me some great ideas,” Klaasen said on Friday night.

The willingness to avail himself of advice was also backed by an enormous amount of work in the nets.

“I never used to be one for hitting a lot of balls, but I had to because I had to invest in my batting. I developed a blueprint in training and it’s still working. Now I stand still and watch the ball and almost just let my body take over with what I’ve practised. It also involves a lot of homework on the opposition, it’s all about options and taking what’s on offer from the bowlers,” Klaasen said.

In the field, the Proteas were also much improved up front with the new ball. Lungi Ngidi removed both David Warner (12) and Mitchell Marsh (6) in the first five overs, and his final figures of four for 51 in eight overs were a welcome return to form for him.

The dangerous Travis Head was struck twice on the hand by the pacy but inconsistent Gerald Coetzee, and retired hurt for 17 off 11 balls, and it fell to wicketkeeper Alex Carey to try and keep things going with the bat for Australia.

Although never ahead of the steep required run-rate, the tourists were also not too far behind and when the towering frame of Tim David (35) began unveiling the big hits in a stand of 72 off 53 balls with Carey, it looked possible that the Proteas might still be involved in a close finish.

But Ngidi returned to remove David, Markram taking an excellent running catch at extra cover, and Kagiso Rabada then wrapped things up with three for 41 in 7.5 overs. Carey was the last wicket to fall, Rabada denying him a century when he had him caught behind gloving a hook for 99 off 77 deliveries.

The Proteas have discovered a new lease on life in the last two matches, setting up a series-decider at the Wanderers on Sunday. With Klaasen and Markram riding high after their extraordinary centuries in Potchefstroom and Centurion, and the rest of the batsmen in the runs too, the batting unit will go to the World Cup in good shape.

Spinner Keshav Maharaj, Ngidi and Rabada were impressive with the ball and the bowling attack will want to build on the progress shown.

In the meantime, Klaasen can bask in the glory of what he said was the sort of innings that only comes around once or twice in a career.

That’s how special it was.

Miller the darling of Indian crowds keeps SA competitive 0

Posted on December 05, 2022 by Ken

David Miller has become something of a darling of Indian crowds due to his exploits in the IPL, and his phenomenal century in the second T20 in Guwahati at the weekend at least ensured the Proteas were competitive.

But in order to actually win the third and final T20 at the Holkar Cricket Stadium in Indore on Tuesday, he says South Africa need to find a way for their bowling and batting to click at the same time.

In the second T20, their bowling was dreadful, serving up numerous full tosses and short, wide deliveries for a rampant Indian top-order to feast on, as they pummelled 237/3 in their 20 overs.

South Africa again lost wickets up front, before Miller, with a career-best 106 not out off only 47 balls, and Quinton de Kock, whose 69* off 48 was a welcome return to form, lifted them to 221/3.

Miller also became South Africa’s leading run-scorer in T20 Internationals with 2050 in 92 innings, going past JP Duminy (1934 in 75 innings).

“It’s always a great feeling to score an international hundred and I’m really chuffed to get the record too, but I have also played the most T20 games for South Africa,” Miller said.

“It was a really loud crowd, they feel right on top of you here, but you just try and enjoy the atmosphere, which you won’t get anywhere else in the world, they are so passionate.

“It’s tough to play in Indian conditions, but it was a good effort and a great game in the end. Quinny and I had a really good partnership that made it a competitive game, we got close.

“The bowling department was extremely good in the last game, but just slightly off tonight, there was a bit of a lack of execution. But if we can combine both, align the batting and the bowling in the same game, then we will be formidable,” Miller said.

The attack were given the mother of all hidings with Kagiso Rabada (14.25), Anrich Nortje (13.66), Wayne Parnell (13.50) and Lungi Ngidi (12.25) all having economy rates that aptly indicated the massacre.

“India got off to a flyer on a good pitch and then kept their momentum all the way through. When we see a team start to get going like that, we need to change the plan and adapt,” Miller said.

“But they batted extremely well and assessed the wicket really quickly. Suryakumar Yadav [61 off 22] is hitting the ball really nicely and you can’t afford to give a top-class batsman like that a couple of freebies.

“It comes down to execution, we need to be hard on ourselves and tighten up. He absolutely annihilated us and gave India a really good injection of momentum. He’s a class player,” Miller said.

  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • Thought of the Day

    Mark 7:8 – “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.”

    Our foundation must be absolute surrender, devotion and obedience to God, rising from pure love for him. Jesus Christ must be central in all things and his will must take precedence over the will of people, regardless of how well-meaning they may be.

    Surrender yourself unconditionally to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, then you will be able to identify what is of man with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Then you will be able to serve – in love! – according to God’s will.



↑ Top