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Ken Borland

Sharks win in the end … after letting the air out of their own tyres 0

Posted on December 05, 2022 by Ken

The Sharks found themselves on the winning side in the end, by the narrowest of margins, but for the vast majority of their United Rugby Championship match against the Dragons in Newport, they huffed and puffed, generally without accuracy, before a handling error or turnover would let the air out of their tyres.

The Sharks snuck home 20-19 thanks to a 75th-minute try by wing Thaakir Abrahams, who was sent to the line by replacement back Marnus Potgieter, after substitute flank Sikhumbuzo Notshe had broken the line to create the space. Flyhalf Boeta Chamberlain then slotted an excellent conversion to give the visitors the lead for the first time since the 11th minute.

Apart from their tendency to lose possession on attack, the Sharks were also not helped by a wayward lineout and the fact that the Dragons beat them in the kicking game. They were also outworked at the breakdown, although unlucky at times that referee Ben Blain did not seem to enjoy their efforts there, or in the scrums, where they won a few penalties but were also on the wrong side of a couple of momentum-breaking decisions.

The first scrum allowed the Sharks to land the first blow with a Chamberlain penalty, but their problems at the ruck, lineout and then, in the second quarter, at scrum time, began to hurt them as Dragons flyhalf Will Reed kicked four penalties.

Chamberlain was able to kick one more scrum penalty, but the Sharks would have been relieved that they went into the break 12-6 down, the Dragons opting for their fourth penalty after the hooter instead of pushing for the try that would have made that lead even more formidable.

But the Dragons went 19-6 up early in the second half when hooker Elliot Dee scored from a rolling maul, the Sharks having been deep on attack inside the 22 after a Rohan Janse van Rensburg charge was wasted by a pass going astray.

It’s a long way back from there away from home at an intimate, boisterous venue like Rodney Parade, but it’s to the Sharks’ credit that they did not panic and kept soldiering on.

An intercept try by scrumhalf Grant Williams was a massive blow for the Dragons, but the Sharks, on the ropes for so long, finally landed a knockout blow with just five minutes remaining, thanks to the strike-running of Notshe and sheer pace of Abrahams.

It’s surprising that the Sharks were so outplayed at ruck time given that their loose trio contained two flanks who play to the ball in James Venter and Dylan Richardson. Then again, Notshe is in the same mould as eighthman Phepsi Buthelezi, one of their few successes on a difficult evening.

It’s becoming apparent that the big-spending Sharks need less flash and more players willing to put in the big hits and do the dirty work around the rucks.


Dragons: Try – Elliot Dee. Conversion – Will Reed. Penalties – Reed (4).

Sharks: Tries – Grant Williams, Thaakir Abrahams. Conversions – Boeta Chamberlain (2). Penalties – Chamberlain (2).

Nenzani picks up on Smith & Faul error as they made their support for Ganguly clear 0

Posted on May 25, 2020 by Ken

Graeme Smith and Jacques Faul made it abundantly clear this week that after their recent dealings with the BCCI they believe Saurav Ganguly is the right man to become the next International Cricket Council chairman, but their error was in not following the correct channels for such shows of support, which is through the Cricket South Africa Board.

Shashank Manohar’s term as ICC chairman is set to expire in July and the Indian has suggested he will not stand for another stint, meaning world cricket’s top post could be up for grabs at the ICC annual general meeting in a couple of months. Ganguly, the current president of the BCCI and the man who as captain of India began their blossoming as international superpowers, has been identified as a frontrunner to replace his compatriot.

Smith, who captained the Proteas against Ganguly’s Indian team, has reason to back him because the BCCI have been supportive of accommodating South Africa in the post-Covid Future Tours Programme, most notably by agreeing in principle to playing three T20 internationals here at the end of August.

“Strong leadership is going to be the key for cricket going forward and we need people who understand the modern game. I’ve known Saurav for a long time, he is highly-resected and is in the best position to be the new president [chairman] of the ICC, a very important position. It would be great to see him get in and good for the game because he’s got the credentials and the skills to take it forward,” Smith, South Africa’s Director of Cricket, said this week.

But his statements in a remote media conference were followed hours later by this statement from CSA president Chris Nenzani:

“We must respect both the ICC protocol and our own protocol in deciding which candidate to back. There have been no candidates nominated as yet and once such nominations have been made the Board of CSA will take its decision in terms of its own protocol. At the moment we don’t want to anticipate any candidates who may be nominated for this important position to lead the game we all love.”

What that means is that the CSA Board will decide who to back for ICC chairman and Nenzani will be the person casting that vote, not chief executive Faul nor Smith. It was not quite a knee in the groin from Nenzani to Smith, but certainly a reminder that his powers are largely restricted to the field of play and not the politics of the boardroom.

But providing the BCCI continue to support South African cricket, thereby indirectly providing the board members with the gravy-rich meals they so love, there is no reason South Africa and Nenzani would not back Ganguly.

Given the current financial state of Cricket South Africa, they need as much charity as they can get and India have the deepest pockets.

Bulls know underestimating Lions would be an error 0

Posted on June 02, 2016 by Ken


The Vodacom Bulls may have been superb in claiming the big scalp of the Crusaders last weekend, but they know it will be an error to expect Saturday’s SuperRugby match against the Emirates Lions at Ellis Park in Johannesburg to be any easier.

It is, of course, a local derby that will always get the blood pumping on both sides, plus the Lions have been playing with an enormous unity of purpose and will be able to draw on the confidence of a record-breaking three wins on tour, while there should be a sizeable home crowd to welcome them home.

“It would be wrong to think it’s going to be an easier game this weekend. The Lions have shown how good they are, it’s never easy winning three games on tour. They will play for the full 80 minutes, they’re fit and well-coached and they will obviously get up for this game because they’ll want to start their home stretch of matches well,” Bulls captain Pierre Spies warned.

Coach Frans Ludeke was also stressing that his team cannot afford any drop in intensity from last weekend.

“We’ve had a very good week of preparation just to add to what we did against the Crusaders, so we’re high in confidence and things are working well. But against the Lions, we will definitely need to match that performance against the Crusaders,” Ludeke said.

Spies called for his team to be clinical in using whatever opportunities they get, and Ludeke has also ensured there are no oversights in selection by choosing another specialist openside flank on the bench in Roelof Smit, against a Lions team that will almost certainly play a high-tempo game and target the Bulls’ breakdown.

Much will also depend on which tighthead – Trevor Nyakane or Ruan Dreyer – gets the upperhand in the scrums because that is such an important set-piece, especially for a team like the Bulls that will use the penalties from there to further their territory game or set up their lineout maul.

Ludeke was full of praise for the way Nyakane has not only adapted to his move from the Cheetahs but also switched to the other side of the scrum during his first three months at Loftus Versfeld. Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer will also be smiling because he now has Marcel van der Merwe or Nyakane as quality back-up for Jannie du Plessis.

“His first-choice position is loosehead, but we had a lot of injuries at tighthead and he has really come through and done a job for us. He’s adding a lot, and a lot more than just scrummaging which is what we’re going to need this weekend.

“The national coach knows what he has in Trevor, he can play loosehead or tighthead, which makes it easy for a coach. Trevor now knows where he wants to go in his career,” Ludeke said.

The omission of Marnitz Boshoff from the starting line-up suggests the Lions are, perhaps unlike the Bulls, targeting tries rather than penalties, but whether they can absorb the pressure from an in-your-face Bulls defence will determine whether they can make inroads on attack or succumb to the errors that undid the Crusaders last weekend.

The Lions may have sometimes been negligent in terms of their own defence in the past, but that aspect of their game was outstanding on tour and coach Johan Ackermann is hoping that continues.

“We’ve put a lot of effort and commitment into our defence, that’s what kept us in the game quite often on tour. We weren’t really able to get our attacking game going, but hopefully at 5pm on a Saturday afternoon we’ll see better rugby on the attacking side. But defence must come with that and if we win the game because of a big tackle, I’ll definitely take that,” Ackermann said.


Lions: 15-Andries Coetzee, 14-Ruan Combrinck, 13-Lionel Mapoe, 12-Harold Vorster, 11-Anthony Volmink, 10-Elton Jantjies, 9-Ross Cronje, 8-Warren Whiteley, 7-Warwick Tecklenburg, 6-Derick Minnie, 5-Franco Mostert, 4-Andries Ferreira, 3-Ruan Dreyer, 2-Robbie Coetzee, 1-Jacques van Rooyen. Replacements – 16-Armand van der Merwe, 17-Corne Fourie, 18-Julian Redelinghuys, 19-Robert Kruger, 20-Jaco Kriel, 21-Faf de Klerk, 22-Marnitz Boshoff, 23-Howard Mnisi.

Bulls: 15-Jesse Kriel, 14-Francois Hougaard, 13-JJ Engelbrecht, 12-Burger Odendaal, 11-Bjorn Basson, 10-Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9-Rudy Paige, 8-Pierre Spies, 7-Hanro Liebenberg, 6-Deon Stegmann, 5-Grant Hattingh, 4-Jacques du Plessis, 3-Trevor Nyakane, 2-Adriaan Strauss, 1-Dean Greyling. Replacements: 16-Callie Visagie, 17-Morné Mellet, 18-Marcel van der Merwe, 19-Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 20-Roelof Smit, 21-Piet van Zyl, 22-Tian Schoeman, 23-Jurgen Visser.



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