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Ken Borland



Buccaneering SA20 trio return to 4-day action for Lions 0

Posted on February 21, 2024 by Ken

Ryan Rickelton, Wiaan Mulder and Mitchell van Buuren will all return to four-day action for the DP World Lions on Wednesday, fresh from their buccaneering batting exploits in the SA20, but the Pride will also welcome back two vital backroom members of the triumphant Sunrisers Eastern Cape to the team for their meeting with the Gbets Rocks in Johannesburg.

DP World Lions head coach Russell Domingo played a key role, as batting coach, in the Sunrisers claiming back-to-back SA20 titles at the weekend, and now he is eager for our Pride to seal a place in the four-day final.

Also returning to the DP World Wanderers Stadium is national Test captain Temba Bavuma, who is over his injury problems and, even though he played just the one game for the Sunrisers, scoring 33, he had an important effect on the happy mood and outstanding culture of the champions’ camp.

Bavuma’s addition nicely makes up for the absence of our Lions’ leading run-scorer in the four-day competition this season, Zubayr Hamza, who is with the Proteas in New Zealand.

The Lions’ two strike bowlers, Tshepo Moreki and Duanne Olivier, are also involved in that Test series.

With Rickelton, Mulder and Van Buuren all consistently amongst the runs in the SA20, it is an in-form and confident home batting line-up that will take the field at the DP World Wanderers.

Rickelton was the leading run-scorer in the SA20 with 530 in just 10 innings for MI Cape Town, who were eliminated before the playoffs. The left-hander was at his best as he scored at a phenomenal strike-rate of 173.77.

Mulder was one of the main reasons the Durban Super Giants reached the final, his 297 runs putting him in the top-10. His tally included three half-centuries, while he scored at a blazing strike-rate of 157.14.

Van Buuren had a solid campaign with the Paarl Royals, making 221 runs at 31.57.

The DP World Lions go into the penultimate CSA 4-Day Series match in third place on the log, but they are just 0.12 points behind the second-placed Warriors and 11.48 points adrift of the leaders, the Titans. So a place in the final and even hosting that five-day match is well on the cards for our Pride.

“It was a great time with the Sunrisers and obviously wonderful to win the trophy again, but now my full attention is on the four-day prize,” Domingo said. “There are two big games ahead for the Lions and we’re obviously missing a few players in New Zealand.

“But it’s very lucky for us to have Temba back, he’s fit and ready to play again and very keen to score lots of runs. Wiaan Mulder is also back after he missed our last game. Both he and Ryan Rickelton had fantastic SA20 tournaments, Mitchell van Buuren did really well and Codi Yusuf bowled nicely too.

“Any cricket played ahead of the four-day restart is good and we’re lucky that we have a few players who have been involved in very intense cricket. They will certainly come in match-ready and I’m really pleased that the Lions guys mostly played very well in the SA20,” Domingo said.

Although the Boland team will be without key players in Shaun von Berg, Clyde Fortuin and Keegan Petersen, who are in New Zealand with the Proteas, most of the rest of their squad would have been able to plan with much forethought ahead of their trip to Johannesburg for the return of red-ball cricket. Fast bowler Hardus Viljoen is the only member of their squad who saw much SA20 action.

“The Malan brothers [Janneman and Pieter], Stiaan van Zyl and Hardus Viljoen – those are all players with international experience and we know the Rocks are a tough unit. They would have worked hard on their skills these last few weeks and they have a lot to play for too, it’s a big game for them as well,” Domingo said, referring to their log-position of sixth, which could leave them flirting with the relegation zone.

Paceman Lutho Sipamla, who has not played a four-day game for the Lions this season due to injury, has been named in the squad and seems almost ready to play, pending the outcome of nets and a fitness test on Tuesday.

DP World Lions squad – Dominic Hendricks (capt), Josh Richards, Temba Bavuma, Ryan Rickelton, Wiaan Mulder, Mitchell van Buuren, Wandile Makwetu, Bjorn Fortuin, Delano Potgieter, Malusi Siboto, Codi Yusuf, Muhammad Manack, Connor Esterhuizen, Lutho Sipamla.

Jake grateful his team didn’t just resort to terrible kicks straight down the field 0

Posted on November 01, 2022 by Ken

The Lions are a really tough side to break down at home, so Bulls coach Jake White was understanding of his team’s problems in managing their attacking ball, and grateful that they didn’t just resort to terrible kicks straight down the field from their own half in their United Rugby Championship opener at Ellis Park at the weekend.

The Bulls eventually won comfortably enough, 31-15, but that scoreline does not reflect how competitive the Lions were. The scores were level at 15-15 with half-an-hour to go, and the Bulls needed a trio of Chris Smith penalties to keep the home side at bay, before a late maul try by replacement hooker Jan-Hendrik Wessels bumped up their score even further.

One could argue that the Bulls allowed the Lions back into the game through some ambitious game-management that saw them largely spurn kicking from the back. But White was pleased with the attacking intent shown by his new-look backline.

“I have no doubt the Lions targeted this game and we always knew it would be tough, it is always tough to win here,” White said after the match. “The Lions have their own style, they are a difficult side to break down and get rhythm on attack against.

“Our attack started well and the cohesion looked good enough, but as the game unfolded we left a few points out there. We conceded six penalties in the last eight minutes of the first half.

“In some cases we over-played, forced things, in our own half, but I don’t want them to just kick the ball down the field. I want us to feel comfortable keeping the ball.

“It was the first time this backline had played together and over time it will come right, the ability to transfer pressure into points, the understanding of the space at the back at times,” White said.

In any case, an away win when a team like Munster lost on the road and Leinster very nearly suffered an upset at lowly Zebre, will sooth any concerns White has.

“An away win is a massive bonus, you have to get a couple to do well in this competition. I enjoyed the way we showed composure.

“At 15-3 up you think you can let your hair down and play a bit, and then suddenly it’s 15-15 with 30 minutes to go. You don’t really want to bring your bench on when you’re up against it.

“But the bench came on, they were able to get cohesive, and they won that area this afternoon. You’re obviously not going to be that cohesive from Day One.

“But once we understand how to create pressure, wave-after-wave of it, then we can create that uncertainty in the opposition,” White said.

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