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Ken Borland

Jake has 1st-choice Bulls but says Stormers minus 3 Boks are still favourites 0

Posted on June 26, 2023 by Ken

Jake White may have his first-choice Bulls side back against a Stormers team that is missing a trio of injured Springboks, but he still said the home team will be the favourites in their United Rugby Championship derby in Cape Town on Friday night.

The Stormers will be without Evan Roos, their talismanic eighthman, exciting young lock Salmaan Moerat and experienced scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies, while White on Thursday named a Bulls team with nine Springboks in the starting line-up and two more on the bench.

But White said he did not read too much into who the Stormers are missing.

“I don’t think it’s a weaker Stormers team, nothing has changed. Our team is still young and in evolution, we’re still where we were last year – we’re developing,” White said.

“I like to think we’re playing better rugby than last year because of the added experience, but we are still a young team building together. We’ve not suddenly become a powerhouse senior team.

“If you look at the Stormers tight five, they are each a couple of years older than ours when you look man-for-man. And John Dobson has been coaching them for a long time.

“So I think they’re favourites. But it’s fantastic that the North/South derby has its aura back, the challenge is healthy and hopefully we do the rivalry justice,” White said.

Things have switched around dramatically from the old rendition of the derby when “10-man” Northern Transvaal relied on a robust, hardcore pack and Western Province, who had a ruthless backline, almost had a bounty out on flyhalf Naas Botha.

Now it is the Stormers who have the grizzled old hard men up front and the Bulls who have the exciting runners in the backs. Although the intensity of this derby could be like a Test match, White said he was hopeful there would still be bountiful space for his dashers.

“I like to believe there will still be space for them. These are good players who have opened up holes in Test rugby. I’m very proud of the good attacking backs we have, Chris Rossouw has worked really hard with them and we’ve had three guys called up for national duty this year, so I guess it is a bit like an old Western Province backline.

“We’ll need to be accurate when we have the ball and score some tries, because we’re not going to win by just keeping them out of our 22.

“But we do also have to be good enough not to give them entries into our 22 because I don’t see them going away from scrumming for penalties, kicking to the corner and then mauling for tries,” White said.

Bulls:Kurt-Lee Arendse, Cornal Hendricks, Lionel Mapoe, Harold Vorster, Canan Moodie, Johan Goosen, Embrose Papier, Elrigh Louw, Cyle Brink, Marco Van Staden, Ruan Nortje (c), Ruan Vermaak, Mornay Smith, Johan Grobbelaar, Gerhard Steenekamp. Bench -Bismarck du Plessis, Simphiwe Matanzima, Sebastian Lombard, Janko Swanepoel, Nizaam Carr, Zak Burger, Chris Smit, Stravino Jacobs.

Proteas obvious favourites with just 2% chance of rain 0

Posted on January 30, 2023 by Ken

The chance of rain scuppering the Proteas’ chances is apparently just 2% and South Africa will be obvious favourites when they take on the Netherlands in Adelaide in the early hours of Sunday morning with a semifinal place on the line.

It’s the simplest of equations for the Proteas – beat the qualifiers and they are in the semi-finals. A defeat or a washed-out match would mean the winners of the game between Pakistan and Bangladesh would go through. Zimbabwe will also still have a chance of progressing if they beat India, but for that to happen and the Dutch to triumph over the Proteas would be two of the biggest upsets in T20 World Cup history on the same day.

Although captain Temba Bavuma said he was not concerned by the performance of the team in their loss to Pakistan in their previous match, the sloppiness of their display is clearly something they cannot afford to repeat. Especially not when they are on the verge of reaching the knockout rounds.

What was frustrating about their showing was that they did everything right for the first 10 overs, knocking over the Pakistan top-order. But their failure to bowl the right lengths in the closing overs was once again the burr in their saddle, Iftikhar Ahmed and Shadab Khan lashing quickfire half-centuries as 106 runs were thrashed in the last eight overs.

It was a cold, wet night in Sydney but that did not excuse a messy fielding display, with catches being dropped and straightforward outfielding being duffed.

In terms of the batting, Quinton de Kock and Rilee Rossouw both failed, but Bavuma and Aiden Markram did well enough to have the Proteas on track after the powerplay. But both of them losing their wickets in the same over, shortly before the rain delay, meant the revised DLS target was too stiff for Heinrich Klaasen and Tristan Stubbs.

The Proteas will be hoping the talismanic David Miller has recovered from his back spasm, and they know that winning their next three games will make this event their most memorable world cup campaign ever.

“You can’t afford to give teams momentum and I’m not going to look for excuses for our fielding display,” Bavuma said after the Pakistan loss. “We have been very good up to that game and we have fielded in the wet before.

“But mistakes were made and that was not the type of display you want at this level, especially in this part of the tournament. Maybe the intensity was down a bit, but it was definitely not the standard we pride ourselves on.

“Hopefully we play our best cricket in the next three games, the next one is a must-win and then we have the playoffs,” Bavuma said.

Jake delighted Bulls are favourites, gives them golfing analogy 0

Posted on July 11, 2022 by Ken

Coach Jake White is delighted that most people seem to consider the Bulls the favourites for their United Rugby Championship match against the Sharks on Saturday, despite the KwaZulu-Natalians beating them twice this season, and said “my analogy to the players was that they are like a golfer who has a chance to win in the final round”.

The Bulls get to host the South African derby quarterfinal because they finished fourth on the final URC log, one place above the Sharks, and White really wants his players to feel at home in the pressure of a knockout game.

“I’m very proud we’re the favourites,” White said. “We’ve finished ahead of them on the log even though we lost to them twice and they have eight current Springboks and we have zero incumbents. It’s a feather in our cap for all our coaches and players.

“We’re really excited, there’s a buzz around Loftus like the old days. We will stick to what has been working for us and won’t be influenced by other people. My players have been given full carte blanche to express themselves.

“They’re like a runner coming down the last stretch now. I gave them a golf analogy and told them the pressure to make the cut on a Friday is very different to playing in the final round when you have a chance to win.

“I want them to enjoy it and give it a full go, and hopefully we can do our supporters proud. We’ve got a couple of new things we will bring to the Sharks and it will be interesting to see if it works …,” White smiled.

The Bulls lost 29-22 to the Sharks in their last meeting in Pretoria, in February, but much went wrong that day which White is confident won’t happen again.

“We made a couple of mistakes then – we had to play with 14 men, a kick-off bounced straight into Makazole Mapimpi’s hands and Lukhanyo Am scored a long-range intercept try.

“I’m fully confident going into this match and we have played well in knockout games,” White said.

The only thing White seemed to be unhappy about on Friday was an injury list that curls his toes. To the long-term blows that have ruled out Lionel Mapoe, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Johan Goosen, Jacques du Plessis and Jacques van Rooyen can now be added  the snapped hamstring suffered by bruising loose forward Cyle Brink.

Arno Botha is a fine replacement in the starting line-up and exciting youngster Reinhardt Ludwig will be on the bench.

Bulls: Canan Moodie, David Kriel, Cornal Hendricks, Harold Vorster, Madosh Tambwe, Chris Smith, Zak Burger; Elrigh Louw, Arno Botha, Marcell Coetzee (CAPT), Ruan Nortje, Walt Steenkamp, Mornay Smith, Johan Grobbelaar, Gerhard Steenekamp. Replacements – Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Lizo Gqoboka, Robert Hunt, Janko Swanepoel, Reinhardt Ludwig; Embrose Papier, Morne Steyn, Stedman Gans.

Matfield says Bulls are clear favourites for him 0

Posted on July 06, 2022 by Ken

Victor Matfield’s love for the Bulls is well-known given his legendary career at Loftus Versfeld and so it was no surprise to hear the former Springbok captain say that Jake White’s team are clear favourites for him when it comes to their United Rugby Championship quarterfinal against the Sharks in Pretoria on Saturday.

And the presence of White, who was coach of the Springboks when they won the 2007 World Cup with Matfield the man of the match in the final, is one of the differences between the two teams for the former lock, who backed him to get the better of Sharks coach Sean Everitt, whose ability to get the best out of a star-studded Sharks team has been questioned in some quarters.

“The Bulls must be favourites,” Matfield said. “They are better coached at the moment, they know how they want to play and how to win.

“The Sharks are a fantastic team on paper, it’s just that they don’t always play the way we know they can.

“Playing at Loftus Versfeld will also definitely be an advantage for the Bulls, they know how to play there and have had a very good record there for the last two-to-three years.

“But the Bulls scrum will need to stand up because the Sharks have won a lot of penalties there. The Sharks scrum very well,” Matfield said.

The lineout maestro also said he wanted to see the Bulls really pile on the pressure in the opening exchanges, using their powerful forwards to batter the Sharks and have them crying for mom early on in the quarterfinal.

“The Bulls struggle when they start games too loose, they are very good when they start by getting that forward dominance.

“In some games we’ve seen them not employ a drive at the first three lineouts, instead going to the midfield and trying to play ball-in-hand rugby.

“But I think once they get that momentum, that forward dominance, then they can spread the ball and really test the defences.

“I would like to see them build first, really squeeze the Sharks, and then they can throw the ball around,” Matfield said.

If the Bulls do beat the Sharks, however, then Matfield said a likely semi-final against Leinster at Aviva Stadium in Dublin would be a daunting prospect.

“Once they get over to Europe for the semi-finals then it becomes much more difficult. To beat Leinster you have to be at your best.

“But I believe the Bulls and Stormers can compete against them if they get their packs of forwards really up for the game,” Matfield said.

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