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Ken Borland

Verreynne does not hide away from fact Proteas suffered soft dismissals 0

Posted on July 27, 2023 by Ken

Kyle Verreynne, South Africa’s leading run-scorer in the series so far, did not hide away from the fact that the Proteas suffered soft dismissals on the opening day of the second Test against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, but he said the tourists’ batsmen were still in a positive frame of mind.

South Africa were bundled out for just 189 on Monday, with Verreynne (52) and Marco Jansen (59) scoring the bulk of those runs in a sixth-wicket stand of 112. Although both of them were caught behind the wicket in successive overs from Cameron Green, edging deliveries outside off-stump, their dismissals were far from soft in comparison to some of their colleagues.

After being sent in to bat, South Africa’s initial collapse from 56 for one to 67 for five had been triggered by Theunis de Bruyn’s wild pull shot and captain Dean Elgar’s crazy run out. Sarel Erwee and Khaya Zondo were both caught off drives that were over-ambitious and poorly executed, while Keshav Maharaj and Kagiso Rabada, who have scored valuable runs for the Proteas in the past, were both out to poor strokes.

“In our last few innings, we’ve been getting out to a lot of good balls and the bowlers have really stuck to their plans, but today there were more soft dismissals, which was the disappointing thing,” Verreynne said after passing fifty for the third time in his 13 Tests.

“But behind closed doors, our batsmen are in a good space and we’ve been having really positive conversations. We know we have to make sure the top six puts the runs on the board and we can’t rely on our lower-order to do it.

“We put pressure on Australia with the ball in the last innings in Brisbane, so we have a lot of confidence that our bowlers can do the job. But it’s a pity that we rely so much on them.

“It would be nice for the batsmen to put a good target on the board for them for a change. But you have to give credit to the Australian bowlers, we had a big partnership and put pressure on them, but they stuck at it,” Verreynne said.

With far less conventional movement on offer than in Brisbane, cross-seam deliveries were one of the vehicles the home attack used to great effect on Monday. None more so than Green, who claimed a career-best five for 27 in 10.4 overs.

“A couple of overs before myself and Marco were dismissed, they started to go cross-seam in order to rough up one side of the ball and it felt like it was just tailing in a bit,” Verreynne said. “Not too much was happening for them, so credit to them for trying something.

“Green is a bit different to the other bowlers because he is so tall, so he gets bounce and he has the ability to shape the ball, as does Mitchell Starc.

“But Green has that bit extra and they use him in short bursts so he brings a lot of energy. It’s a luxury Australia have, so the batsmen have to make sure they’re switched on against him,” Verreynne said.

Sharks following the manual on how to retreat into a laager 0

Posted on March 09, 2023 by Ken

The Sharks are following the manual on how to retreat into a laager to the letter this week as they head into their United Rugby Championship match against the Ospreys in Durban on Friday night refusing to discuss the firing of their head coach Sean Everitt or the fact that Siya Kolisi is injured.

Whether this is all an air of denial or one of defiance will only be seen on Friday night against an Ospreys side who gave the high-flying Bulls a tough second half at Loftus Versfeld last weekend.

Everitt had been at the Sharks for more than a decade and was a popular figure; since new director of rugby Neil Powell has arrived at Kings Park they have put in a flat performance against the Bulls and a horror show against Cardiff. But Powell has now officially taken over the coaching of the team.

The former Springbok Sevens supremo said on Thursday that he is satisfied that the team is behind him.

“Obviously it has not been an easy week, but it was important to get the whole squad of fifty together. We are all part of it and we’ve got to make it better. Our goals are still the same.

“It was important to discuss that and we’ve got buy-in already from the players. A lot has been said, but we can speak as much as we like, it’s time now for action.

“That’s where Siya and Eben Etzebeth have made a massive contribution for us this week as well, they were at every session and meeting, refocusing us on the job at hand.

“We will keep chipping away and moving in the right direction until we get success in terms of the focus and mindset,” Powell said, before revealing that Kolisi was unavailable for selection due to injury, while Etzaebeth is being rested.

When asked for more details of Kolisi’s injury, Powell said he was unable to say more.

But fellow Springboks Ox Nche and Bongi Mbonambi will bring their strength to the front row, while Vincent Tshituka has moved from the back row to lock, where Powell will hope he can ford the gainline with success.

Both regular eighthmen, Phepsi Buthelezi and Sikhumbuzo Notshe, are in the loose trio, along with the combative Jeandre Labuschagne.

Perhaps the most significant selection though is that of Curwin Bosch, back at flyhalf and being relied upon to lead the team into the right areas on the field.

“It’s important to try and maximize our pack and Vincent can make a massive contribution at No.4,” Powell explained. “And it does not make sense playing either Sikhumbuzo or Phepsi, you want your best players on the field.

“We’re looking to Curwin to manage the game from a kicking perspective, make sure we’re playing in the opposition half by getting on top of the kicking game. We want our flyhalf to manage the game better in terms of kicking and communication,” Powell said.

SharksBoeta Chamberlain, Marnus Potgieter, Francois Venter, Ben Tapuai, Makazole Mapimpi, Curwin Bosch, Jaden Hendrikse, Phepsi Buthelezi (c), Jeandre Labuschagne, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Gerbrandt Grobler, Vincent Tshituka, Carlu Sadie, Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche. Bench: Dan Jooste, Ntuthuko Mchunu, Khutha Mchunu, Hyron Andrews, James Venter, Grant Williams, Nevaldo Fleurs, Rohan Janse van Rensburg.

Bulls rescued by late Steyn penalty, and by Edinburgh miss 0

Posted on November 16, 2022 by Ken

The Bulls were rescued by a 78th-minute Morne Steyn penalty, and the fact that Henry Immelman missed one after the final hooter, as they scraped to a 33-31 win over Edinburgh in a dingdong United Rugby Championship thriller at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

The Bulls made the early running and were dominant and clinical in sailing into a 15-0 lead in 22 minutes. But they were then stunned by the quality and slickness of Edinburgh’s attacking play, and ripped apart by right wing Darcy Graham’s hat-trick of tries.

The Bulls were great going forward, but once Edinburgh recovered from an error-strewn start, including a yellow card to captain Grant Gilchrist, the visitors really tested their defence, which was caught being too narrow at times and also missed one-on-one tackles.

Graham rounded the defence for his opening try in the 32nd minute, Edinburgh cutting the deficit to 14-15 at half time.

The Bulls started the second half superbly with Cornal Hendricks scoring after being set up by the forwards – Elrigh Louw made yards over the gainline after the home side won back the kickoff, Marcell Coetzee broke through on a great inside line, and there was slick interplay between locks Walt Steenkamp and Ruan Nortje.

But Edinburgh immediately struck back as Graham followed up a long-range Mark Bennett penalty that struck the poles and bounced into unguarded territory.

A Chris Smith penalty stretched the Bulls’ lead back to 25-19, but they lost the restart and Graham rounded off a superb try that featured brilliant handling by eighthman Viliame Mata and fullback Immelman.

The Bulls, spluttering between excellence and mediocrity, scored another fine try featuring some good hands in a prolonged build-up, replacement prop Simphiwe Matanzima providing some key energy with a strong carry, before wing Stravino Jacobs ran on to a well-aimed pass from Embrose Papier and stretched over to score.

But Edinburgh just kept on coming and they finally overtook the Bulls with 11 minutes remaining. Playing off a lineout, they showed wonderful attacking skills, the slick hands of their backs working left wing Damien Hoyland over for the try, converted by outside centre Mark Bennett for a 31-30 lead.

The Bulls then conceded a scrum penalty, but Immelman missed from 54 metres out, before the home side then won a penalty at the set-piece. Their lineout was especially dominant on Saturday and they earned another penalty from a driving maul, allowing Steyn to shoot at goal. He was on the 10m line, six metres in from touch, and there was seldom any doubt he would nail the tricky kick.

But then Jacobs went in high on Bennett in a thunderous tackle, and was rightly penalised after extensive consultations between the officials.

Immelman from 46 metres out and 12 metres in from touch, was wide, the Bulls escaping a painful loss.

But Edinburgh have certainly left Loftus Versfeld with immense credit, while the Bulls will need to work on getting more defensive steel.


BullsTries: Johan Grobbelaar, Elrigh Louw, Cornal Hendricks, Stravino Jacobs. Conversions: Chris Smith (2). Penalties: Smith (2), Steyn.

EdinburghTries: Charlie Savala, Darcy Graham (3), Damien Hoyland. Conversions: Mark Bennett (3).

Hungry De Kock frustrated by rain 0

Posted on September 02, 2022 by Ken

Quinton de Kock said after the third ODI between South Africa and England that it was “nice to get out in the middle and score some runs” in his trademark understated way, but given the hunger he showed to make it really count on Sunday, the fact that rain limited his fun to just 76 balls in 105 minutes would have frustrated the 29-year-old.

The left-hander made the most of his time at the crease though, overcoming a scratchy start against excellent English seam bowling to stroke a marvellous 92 not out before the match was washed out. It was his first major innings since his phenomenal 140 not out for the Lucknow Super Giants against the Kolkata Knight Riders on May 18 in his penultimate IPL game.

De Kock had only batted five more times since then, suffering a hand injury during the Proteas’ T20 series in India, so he was eager to make his mark at Headingley.

“It was obviously nice to get out there and score some runs, spend some time in the middle after time away from the game,” De Kock said after the series was shared 1-1 with world champions England.

“The pitch was providing a bit of swing and movement, so I just had to soak up the pressure at first, 50 overs is a long time, and make sure I remained strong in my positions.

“I wanted to make sure I had a strong defence and put away the bad balls, while keeping the ball on the ground for as long as possible. That was the game-plan.

“It was tricky facing three left-arm seamers swinging it around. But we thought that might happen in this series, so we did our prep to make sure we weren’t caught off-guard,” De Kock said.

The three-match series did provide at least one unexpected outcome, with star England all-rounder Ben Stokes’s decision to join the growing number of players who have retired from a format of the game catching many off-guard.

De Kock himself is strictly a white-ball player these days, and pleasingly is still clearly a top-class practitioner who makes batting look so easy on days like Sunday. Part of his secret is that he does not overcomplicate things and he said how much cricket players should be willing to play is purely a personal decision.

“It is starting to be tough for those players who play in all three formats, that is a lot of cricket and there are even more games now over the calendar year,” De Kock said.

“It’s an individual decision, if you feel you can do it then I’m happy for you, but others have taken it into their own hands. It’s a personal decision.

“If you’re still young then I think you should still play in all three formats. But as you get older, the body doesn’t co-operate as much. It’s just about managing things to prolong our careers.

“But there are still World Cups I want to play in and win, I still have a lot to play for. I always try to make an impact, that’s what we’re here to do, no matter how many formats you play,” De Kock said.

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