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Ken Borland

Retribution v Ulster not on the Sharks’ minds – Janse van Rensburg 0

Posted on February 21, 2023 by Ken

Rohan Janse van Rensburg

Retribution for their defeat at the hands of Ulster last season that condemned them to an away quarterfinal will not be on the Sharks’ minds, according to centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg, when they take on the Irish powerhouses in their United Rugby Championship clash at Kings Park on Saturday.

Ulster beat the Sharks 24-21 at the Kingspan Stadium last May, which meant they pushed the Sharks down to fifth in the standings and forced them into playing their quarterfinal against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld, where they went down 30-27, beaten by an 83rd minute drop goal by Chris Smith.

But instead of reflecting on that pain, Janse van Rensburg says the Sharks are instead focusing on the positive benefits that could come from beating Ulster in Durban this weekend: a bonus point win and other results going their way could see them climb into the top five on the log.

“We haven’t spoken about what happened last season at all,” Janse van Rensburg said on Tuesday. “Our conversations have purely been based on what we can do to beat Ulster.

“It’s a massive game for us, especially with the current log positions being a great motivation for us. Every point matters at this stage of the season as we try and get closer to the top five. We have the potential to get there already this weekend, so we just want to take our next steps forward.

“We have to use the climate and the heat to our advantage, it’s huge to be able to capitalise on those at home. But most importantly, we need to make sure we pitch up.

“Ulster are always a strong team to face, regardless of them losing a few players to Ireland, so it’s important for us to be really on it from the start,” Janse van Rensburg said.

Playing 81 times for the Sale Sharks between 2017 and 2022 furnished Janse van Rensburg with the ability to adapt to different conditions and match situations, and the 28-year-old sees himself as a senior player with the Natal Sharks, lending his experience to the rest of the team.

“It was definitely a great experience being there overseas for five years, especially playing in the wet conditions, you have to adapt. Sometimes it would be snowing and then it gets really hard.

“But having to adapt to whatever the conditions are on match-day definitely helped me in my game-management. With that experience I just try and help the other boys in the midst of a tough game, but it also helps me in terms of how I think about the game.

“Ulster are coming from their winter so it’s going to be a massive adjustment for them, especially with how hot the weather gets this time of year around 2pm.

“But it’s a really, really big game for us. Confidence is everything and we have quality players who want to perform and achieve higher honours. There’s a big onus on us, even though we are missing a lot of players, to take responsibility for every game now,” Janse van Rensburg said.

CSA’s dictatorial treatment of Magala should receive more attention 0

Posted on February 10, 2023 by Ken

Temba Bavuma and the Proteas will no doubt still receive more than their fair share of flak for the next few weeks following their shock exit at the hands of the Netherlands in the T20 World Cup, but it is only right that Cricket South Africa come under scrutiny too for their handling of the domestic game.

The Proteas are the end result of whatever comes through the domestic system, so that pipeline is of vital importance. The first domestic tournament has already come to an end with the Northerns Titans winning the CSA T20 Challenge in Potchefstroom last weekend.

As provincial cricket so often is these days, it was a low-key event, not helped by it all taking place in one little university town. But CSA’s cost-cutting necessities are understandable.

But what is neither understandable nor acceptable is the way CSA impose so many other agendas, other than performance simply being the be-all and end-all, on the provincial teams.

The fact that CSA issued a directive forbidding the Central Gauteng Lions from choosing their star player, Sisanda Magala, simply because he failed their fitness tests, should cause all the provincial CEOs to rise up and reject such interference in their affairs by the mother body.

Magala is the sort of T20 specialist, with his death-bowling skills and hard-hitting batting, who could have made the Lions genuine contenders for a tournament in which they finished fifth, just two points away from the semi-finals.

The Lions missed out on vital promotion/relegation points because they were severely hamstrung by CSA. A player on the fringes of the national team – many believe he should have been in Australia for the World Cup – was also denied the opportunity to further build on his sizeable reputation.

And Magala’s credentials have not just been praised by great fast bowlers such as Dale Steyn and Shaun Pollock; the most ruthless judges of them all, the Indian IPL team owners, clearly rate the 31-year-old very highly too – he was bought for R5.4 million by the Sunrisers Eastern Cape in the SA20 Auction.

Magala’s ‘crime’ was that he cannot run a two-kilometre time trial in eight minutes, 30 seconds, missing out by a few seconds and that was enough for some jobsworth at CSA to ban him from playing in the CSA T20 Challenge. The big lad is actually pretty athletic in the field and never has a problem bowling his four overs and is quite capable of running quick singles. Where running two kilometres applies to batting and bowling I would love to know.

With so much at stake for the provinces – relegation would be a financial disaster for a team like the Lions – the day is surely coming when they challenge any policies imposed on them that stop them from performing at their best.

This over-emphasis on arbitrary fitness tests is surely something that falls under the ambit of director of cricket Enoch Nkwe and he needs to address it.

Not having Magala, one of our best cricketers, playing is also doing a disservice to transformation. In order to reach their targets, the Lions actually had to rope in a club cricketer to replace their star all-rounder on the morning the tournament started.

Magala’s treatment is just yet another example of South African cricket hurting itself. How did forcing him on to the sidelines serve the game or make it better?

Perhaps the day South Africa finally win a cricket world cup is the day when high performance, winning or getting results (call it what you will) is the only focus for our teams.

Faulty game-management and individual errors to blame for Sharks defeat – Powell 0

Posted on January 23, 2023 by Ken

Faulty game-management and individual errors were to blame for the Sharks’ 40-27 defeat at the hands of the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld at the weekend, director of rugby Neil Powell said after the United Rugby Championship derby.

The match was more competitive than the scoreline suggested, but the Bulls were just more clinical and enjoyed the edge up front.

“It was a game of missed opportunities and quite a few individual errors for us,” Powell said. “We wanted to execute better and we had quite a few chances in the first half to put the Bulls under pressure.

“Unfortunately we were not clinical enough in the execution of our individual roles and it showed. Rugby is always a game of momentum and confidence, if you give it away, then good teams like the Bulls will punish you.

“We definitely need to work on our game-management. Especially after we conceded the first try, we dropped our heads a bit. Then the second try also took some energy away.

“We definitely need to address that, we have to keep playing for the full 80 minutes. During the international break, we’ll be looking closely at where we can improve, both as a team and in individual skillsets,” Powell said.

The Sharks left 17-16 going into the final quarter, so they were very much in the contest, but the energy of the Bulls bench and some excellent attacking play from turnover ball saw the home side score three tries to seal the result.

“We always know it’s going to be physical against the Bulls at Loftus and we did well in the first half. We stopped their maul and forced them to kick penalties to poles and not for touch,” Powell said.

“So the guys really did well to step up physically, we just did not manage one or two areas of the game well enough to win. We didn’t really find momentum in the first half.

“And then we scored in the second half and got some momentum, but we couldn’t hang on to it. I think not playing last week did hurt us, it stopped our flow a bit.

“From a defensive perspective, a lot of players missed tackles and we definitely need to address that. We need to invest more time in those players,” Powell said.

Jake on the offensive as Cape-based journos feel his ire 0

Posted on January 03, 2023 by Ken

Bulls coach Jake White was on the offensive after his team’s poor display in their 31-17 defeat at the hands of Munster, with a couple of Cape-based journalists feeling his ire in prickly exchanges.

The questions they raised were largely self-evident, but White took exception to his team being described as “outmuscled” and when asked about senior players not standing up, he asked for a list.

There is no doubt that the Bulls were second-best at the gain-line, as shown by Munster scoring three of their four tries from pick-and-goes, while they bashed away at the home team’s line for the last 10 minutes without getting through.

The only Bulls players who emerged with credit from the game were youngsters David Kriel, a second-half substitute, and fullback Kurt-Lee Arendse, who was still full of attacking threat in the wind and rain.

“I don’t think we were outmuscled at all,” White said afterwards. “We leaked a couple of tries from close quarters, but I’m proud of the way we fought back, it was a good learning curve.

“Munster have a lot of internationals and will definitely be near the top at the end of the competition. It was raining, they contested well in the lineouts, where we had a young hooker.

“We are still a long way from where we want to be, but our spine, numbers two, eight, nine and 15 are all youngsters, while theirs are internationals. I’m not happy with the result, but I am a realist.

“We will keep staying positive. If I listened to you guys in the media, I would go stand on top of a building and jump! We have a very young group and last season they exceeded expectations,” White said.

What possession they had, the Bulls often wasted with poorly-directed kicks, but White made it sound like you needed to be the Dean of Science at the University of Limerick on the other side of the River Shannon to understand the wind.

“Conditions did not help us and we kicked inaccurately. But the wind made it very difficult – you were constantly worried that if you kicked short then the ball would come straight back to you, or if you gave it more it would go too long.

“The conditions were in the forwards’ favour and Munster bravely defended their line at the end. Being at home, they obviously played the conditions well and the worst thing was that we gave them a 17-3 start in the first half.

“We have what we have in terms of players and they have got to grow. If we started Bismarck du Plessis, what would Jan-Hendrik Wessels learn?

“It’s not the end of the world, touring is very difficult, we saw that with Ulster almost losing to the Lions. I can’t hide these players, I’ve got to put them in pressure situations and I know they will get better over time,” White said.

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    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.

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