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Ken Borland



Odds against SA as they try to avoid ‘4-day franchise game’ in 2nd Test 0

Posted on August 21, 2023 by Ken

The odds are stacked high against South Africa as their batsmen face trying to avoid turning the second Test versus Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground into something akin to a four-day franchise game, ending the third day still needing 371 runs to avoid an innings defeat.

The Proteas batted for just seven overs in their second innings on Wednesday, but in that time they lost captain Dean Elgar, caught down the leg-side for a duck. Sarel Erwee (7*) and Theunis de Bruyn (6*) then took them to 15 for one when rain stopped play at 4.21pm local time.

Mitchell Starc, bleeding from the finger he dislocated in the field on the first day, swung the ball prodigiously, but it was captain Pat Cummins who grabbed the wicket as he bowled three successive maidens.

The bowlers have been through one of their toughest tests as Australia piled on 575 for eight declared, their biggest total against South Africa since they smashed 652 for seven declared at the Wanderers in 2002. It meant the Proteas conceded a monstrous 386-run first-innings lead.

Anrich Nortje produced a thrilling double-strike in his second over of the day as he bowled Travis Head for a dashing 51, shaping the ball back into the left-hander. That brought second-day hero David Warner back to the crease, the left-hander celebrating his 100th Test having retired hurt with severe cramps upon reaching his epic 200*.

But Nortje, whose tremendous fast bowling the previous day had thrilled the MCG crowd almost as much as Warner’s innings, bowled the veteran opener first ball back with an excellent yorker.

Cummins survived the hat-trick ball but was then caught behind off Kagiso Rabada for 4. With Cameron Green and Starc both nursing hand injuries, South Africa may have expected to wrap the innings up quickly as Nathan Lyon came to the crease with Australia on 400 for six, leading by 211.

But Lyon batted brightly to score 25 off 17 balls as he and Alex Carey put on a quickfire 40, and the wicketkeeper/batsman carried on in exhilarating fashion to an exciting maiden Test century, one that ensured Australia enjoyed an insurmountable lead.

With Green surprisingly returning to the crease with a fractured finger and defending stoutly, Carey feasted on the tired bowling on a flat pitch, scoring a superb 111 off 149 balls before offering a return catch to Marco Jansen as he tried to withdraw his bat from a steepling, tennis-ball bounce lifter from the left-arm quick.

Green became more fluent the longer he was at the crease, but his 51 not out was still a grind, albeit a brave one, coming off 177 deliveries in 224 minutes.

Having bowled themselves into the ground, South Africa’s bowlers eventually received some respite when Australia declared shortly before tea, having batted for 145 overs. Nortje earned immense respect for his effort as he finished with three for 92 in 25 overs.

Beaten Bulls show the spirit that ensures they won’t be temps but contenders in Currie Cup semis 0

Posted on June 12, 2023 by Ken

Cornal Hendricks scored two tries for the Bulls against the Free State Cheetahs.

The Bulls may have scraped into the Currie Cup semi-finals, but the passion and desire they showed in going down 27-31 to the Free State Cheetahs in a match of high drama at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, securing two vital bonus points despite suffering a red card in a moment of temporary madness, means they cannot be considered temps in this competition but genuine contenders.

The Bulls nearly won the match, the final whistle going with their maul four metres from the Cheetahs’ tryline. But by scoring four tries and finishing within seven points of the Free Staters, they earned two invaluable log points that left them on 38 points, two ahead of the Lions and out of reach of Western Province (37pts), despite their thrashing of the Sharks.

Considering they played the entire second half with 14 men after eighthman Elrigh Louw was red-carded in the 38th minute, it was the stoutest of efforts, showing that the Bulls do have that never-say-die quality that will make them very dangerous semi-final opponents. They will play the Cheetahs again this weekend in Bloemfontein, but if the Free Staters underestimate the Bulls based on how they reached the last four, they will tempt fate most foolishly.

Louw was sent from the field after his shoulder made contact with the head of Cheetahs flank Siba Qoma, as he rushed into a ruck and made a clumsy attempt to clean.

By that stage, the Cheetahs had already turned around the momentum after the Bulls made a flying start, rushing into a 19-0 lead in the first quarter. With halftime beckoning, the visitors had closed to 14-19 and had lifted themselves from a lethargic start, really making their presence felt in defence and at the breakdown.

Although flyhalf Morne Steyn, in his farewell game at Loftus Versfeld, kicked a 42nd-minute penalty to stretch the lead to 22-14, the Cheetahs took control of the match as they scored two tries in five minutes to open up a 28-22 lead.

Excellent flyhalf Siya Masuku, who will be in Sharks’ colours next season, seemed to be clothing himself in either a cloak of invisibility or the most slippery substance known to man as he weaved his way through the heart of the Bulls team to score an exceptional try. Masuku succeeded with the conversion too, as he did with all four of his other kicks at goal.

In the 49th minute, hooker Marnus van der Merwe, who was like a bull in a china shop, produced another storming run that left him just short of the line, but scrumhalf Rewan Kruger picked up the ball and dived over to score.

It was not as if the Cheetahs closed up shop then either, but the Bulls just upped their game with sheer desperation. They too scrambled in defence against a team that is always so dangerous with ball-in-hand.

Masuku had the final say with a 71st-minute penalty won at a ruck, but the Bulls were up close in their rearview mirrors throughout the final quarter.

Replacement flyhalf Chris Smith was brought into action in the 54th minute as Steyn departed his home ground for the last time. The Springbok flyhalf had been more inspirational in his running of the backline than with the boot, missing three of his six kicks at goal.

It was Smith’s boot that ultimately put the Bulls into the semi-finals as, with the ferocious Cheetahs defence in his face and cutting him off from his centres, he put the deftest of crosskicks into the corner for wing Cornal Hendricks to score his second try. It was also the fourth for his team, bringing the first bonus point, and it dragged the home side back to within one point of the Free Staters, setting up a second log point.

The other legend being farewelled, hooker Bismarck du Plessis, came off the bench and had a big impact in the closing stages, both in the set-pieces and in bringing some added presence at the rucks.

The Bulls had begun the match in inspired fashion with three tries in the first 14 minutes.

Fullback Johan Goosen’s prowess in the air allowed the Bulls to attack the blindside and, with the Cheetahs defence slow to react, outside centre Stedman Gans was able to put Hendricks away for the opening try.

Two minutes later, Free State dropped the ball in their backline and wing David Kriel pounced, swivelling out of a tackle and then passing to centre Harold Vorster, who was quickly up in support and raced away for the second try.

The third try went to scrumhalf Embrose Papier, who is in such great form at the moment, but it is doubtful whether he will be able to play in the semi-final due to a hamstring injury. He sidestepped a defender and streaked away for a try after Ruan Vermaak’s super offload, the lock having burst clear after Steyn put him in a hole with a skip-pass.

The Cheetahs were very competitive in the scrums and they opened their account after getting a penalty there and going for a lineout deep in Bulls’ territory. Van der Merwe burst clear from the maul and then the similarly-built centre David Brits muscled over for the try.

Their second try also came off a lineout, but this time with a slick backline move, fullback Tapiwa Mafura dummying and then breaking the line, wing Daniel Kasende then providing a strong finish.

Given the quality the Cheetahs showed, the 14-man Bulls were just relieved to still be in the running for the Currie Cup crown.

“The team showed a lot of character and desire because the game could really have got away from us,” assistant coach Hugo van As said after the game. “We still had two or three opportunities to win right at the end, a great chance with our maul.

“But you’ve got to give the Cheetahs great credit for the way they stopped our maul and the breakdown was a big concern for us as well. We were beaten there, they came really hard at us and disrupted a lot of our plays.

“We’ve got to adapt on the day and make sure we look after our ball better. We saw in the first 20 minutes that when we get it right then we can score tries, it was a huge positive to see the interplay between forwards and backs.

“The team desperately want to send Morne and Bismarck off with a win and there is still a lot to play for. The hunger and desire is there to go further, we just need to be more clinical and make better decisions,” Van As said.

Scorers

Bulls: Tries – Cornal Hendricks (2), Harold Vorster, Embrose Papier. Conversions – Morne Steyn (2). Penalty – Steyn.

Free State Cheetahs: Tries – David Brits, Daniel Kasende, Siya Masuku, Rewan Kruger. Conversions – Masuku (4). Penalty – Masuku.

Strydom expected it to be wet & miserable at St Francis Links, but it ended up being a happy day 0

Posted on December 05, 2022 by Ken

CAPE ST FRANCIS, Eastern Cape – Ockie Strydom woke up on Friday morning and thought it was going to be wet and miserable at the St Francis Links, but it ended up being a happy day for the 37-year-old as he was sitting high, and dry, at the top of the leaderboard after the second round of the Vodacom Origins of Golf Series event there.

Strydom shot a five-under-par 67 on Friday to go to 11-under for the tournament, leading Dylan Naidoo, who also shot a 67, by one stroke.

“When I woke up this morning, I thought it was going to be a very wet day and driving to the course, I kept wondering if I should turn back and get my rain shoes,” Strydom said.

“In the end I didn’t drive back and it was as wet as it can be when we started the round. But it actually turned into a lovely day in the end. It was overcast, but the wind largely stayed away, until it came up a bit again with five holes to go on the back nine.”

Strydom, who began the day one stroke off the lead, made a quiet start to his round with just a single birdie on the front nine, coming at the par-five third hole.

It was actually a bogey – his only one of the day – at the par-four 11th that gave birth to an astonishing run of five successive birdies from the 12th that gave the Serengeti Golf Estate golfer the lead.

“I made sure I played good golf into the wind, but on the first nine I kept hitting all my putts short. Then on 11 I had a 15-foot birdie putt and I told my caddie there’s no way I’m leaving it short. So I hit it eight foot past and then missed the putt coming back,” Strydom explained.

“So I had a harsh little chat with myself walking to the next tee, I thought I must get something going now, take advantage of being downwind and give myself a cushion for the last hole when you’re back into the wind.”

Apart from Naidoo, the other golfers chasing Strydom on the final day will be Doug McGuigan (67) on eight-under-par and Hennie O’Kennedy (68) and Keenan Davidse (67) on seven-under.

Strydom has been leading many times before and he knows what he has to do.

“I’m just going to do the same as I’m doing at the moment. Try keep the ball in play and hit the greens. If I can make five putts, be five-under tomorrow then I’ll be in with a good shout. I must just be patient,” Strydom said.

Mowat starts well & continues on that high for a feel-good round 0

Posted on July 06, 2022 by Ken

SUN CITY, North-West – Callum Mowat began with two birdies and just continued on that high as he shot a 67 to lead the SunBet Challenge hosted by Sun City after the first round on Wednesday, saying afterwards it was a round that “made me feel good about me”.

Mowat’s five-under-par score included just one bogey on the testing Gary Player Country Club layout and he came home in three-under 33. That gave him a one-stroke lead over Rourke van der Spuy on four-under, while MJ Viljoen and Harry Konig were tied for third after shooting 69s.

“I’ve been inside a deep hole and I needed to figure out how I felt about myself,” Mowat said. “It was nice to feel I belong out here and I am competitive, it was good to feel good about myself and where my game is trending. It made me feel good about me.

“I just tried to be aggressive, just let fly and stop trying to steer the ball around, let it run! The demanding thing about Gary Player Country Club is off the tee, but I was more aggressive than usual.

“That meant I could hit a lot more greens with shorter irons. My game-plan was to just get as far as possible off the tee, it worked well and then I just stuck to the plan,” the 30-year-old Mowat said. The Glendower golfer had not broken 70 yet in four rounds this season at the FBC Zimbabwe Open and the Sishen Classic.

The 27-year-old Viljoen looked like catching Mowat as he raced to four-under through 14 holes, but a weak finish saw him drop a shot at the par-four 18th to finish two back on three-under.

Van der Spuy started his round with eight pars, but he caught fire around the turn with birdies on the ninth and 10th holes, and he picked up further shots on the 13th and 17th holes in a bogey-free round.

Konig, hailing from Devon in England, is in his first season on the Sunshine Tour and he also dropped just one shot, making a four on the par-three 16th, in his 69.

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    Every day offers the opportunity for doing a kind deed or speaking an encouraging word to someone who feels overwhelmed.

    Our exuberant joy about God’s goodness to us should cause us to throw ourselves enthusiastically into serving others.

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