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Ken Borland



‘Moving Day’ not about building a lead for Homa but consolidation 0

Posted on November 11, 2023 by Ken

Max Homa of the USA plays his second shot on the 13th hole during the third round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Gary Player CC on Saturday.
(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

The third round of a golf tournament – colloquially known as ‘Moving Day’ – is often about building a healthy lead heading into the final round, but for Max Homa, Saturday at the Gary Player Country Club was all about consolidation and the world number eight has fought off numerous challengers to end the penultimate day of the Nedbank Golf Challenge with a one-stroke lead.

Beginning the third round tied for the lead with Matthieu Pavon, Homa dropped just one stroke on Saturday and that was the key to his pre-eminent position heading into the final round. What he described as a “squirrelly” start saw the American bogey the par-three fourth hole, but he immediately birdied the fifth to cut Pavon’s lead back to one shot.

The key moment of the day came on the par-five 10th as Homa holed his bunker shot for eagle. Another birdie for the 32-year-old on the next par-five, the 14th, ensured he would lead alone after Pavon dropped shots on 15 and 16.

Homa posted a three-under-par 69 on Saturday to finish on 13-under overall, with Pavon’s 70 leaving him on 12-under. Nicolai Hojgaard’s 69, containing three bogeys as well as six birdies, lifted him to 11-under-par with Thorbjorn Olesen, whose only bogey came on the 16th, as he also shot 69.

“I didn’t swing so well to start, it was all a bit scrappy, but I hit the ball really well for the last 10 holes, I just didn’t sink anything,” Homa said after his round. “It felt like I was hitting good shots but not capitalising, things weren’t going my way before that nice bunker shot on 10, that was a lovely boost.

“I gave myself a lot of looks today and the plan tomorrow is to make a few more putts. It’s a dream and an honour just to have the opportunity to win this tournament, which has a tremendous history. Every day we walk past the winners’ plaques at the ninth green, it’s an impressive list and I would love to add my name to that legacy. All I can do is put myself in the best position to do that,” Homa said.

Pavon was okay with his position after a boiling hot, gruelling day at Sun City, nestled like a kiln between the Pilanesberg mountains. Before his late bogeys on the 15th and 16th holes, the Frenchman had been four-under for his round, not bad going in the testing conditions with the wind also having picked up.

“It was nice to start well with three birdies in the first seven holes, but overall it was a real grind today. It was hard, the pins are in tricky places and it was all about managing your game. It was also a very long day – five-and-a-half hours, which is too long in that heat and intensity, you drain a lot of energy.

“It was good to walk away with two pars, that was a very solid finish. It’s always nice having won a few weeks ago [the Spanish Open on October 15], so my confidence is pretty high and my game feels good,” Pavon said.

The chances of a South African winner, for the first time since Branden Grace in 2017, seem to be drying up with Hennie du Plessis still the leading local, but on five-under, eight shots off the lead. Three birdies in the first five holes on Saturday were considerable hops up the leaderboard, but he then slumped back with five bogeys leaving him with a 74.

Dan Bradbury, whose rapid rise from nowhere to prominence is one of the stories of the season, had a day of astronomical ups and downs, a bogey at the last leaving him on 10-under-par in fifth place.

On the 195m, par-three foirth, he was inches away from claiming a hole-in-one, but he followed up that birdie with another one on the fifth. The Joburg Open winner went out in two-under 34 after a bogey on the par-four eighth and a birdie on the par-five ninth.

The back nine was an epic rollercoaster for the Englishman. He left his birdie putt on the par-five 11th just short and then bogeyed the par-three 12th. He missed another birdie opportunity on the par-fibe 14th with a terrible close-range miss, but them made a marvellous 25ft putt for par on 15, followed by a massive 34-footer for birdie on the 16th.

Like many others, he then found himself in trouble on the 18th, the toughest hole in the third round, when he missed the green right and chipped out of the rough, 17 feet past the flag, failing to make the par-putt.

Springbok quartet no longer waiting in the aisles as Powell brings them all back 0

Posted on September 14, 2023 by Ken

Springboks Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi, Eben Etzebeth and Siya Kolisi were waiting in the aisles last weekend, but Sharks director of rugby Neil Powell has brought them all back into the starting XV for Saturday’s United Rugby Championship match against the Bulls at Kings Park as he dares not allow any complacency to creep into his high-flying side.

The Sharks have won four games on the trot across the two European competitions and they face a fired up Bulls side that are coming off a fiercely-contested loss to the Stormers last weekend. Inconsistency has bedevilled the Sharks in the past, and Powell is eager to ensure there is no slip in intensity on Saturday.

“It’s always good to be able to select your best players against the Bulls, who are coming to our house and always bring a big physical challenge, but on Saturday they will bring a bit more because of that loss,” Powell said on Friday.

“They saved their players from the Champions Cup to target these games, so last weekend’s loss will definitely hurt and they will bring a lot of effort and physicality to get at least one win from these games.

“We’re obviously aware of it, and it’s a really good opportunity for us to still build momentum and cohesion. We would like to be more clinical and we know a quality team like the Bulls only gives you so many opportunities.

“It’s mid-season and we feel like we’re moving in the right direction. There’s still a lot we can do better and we want to build on last week’s performance against the Lions.

“We want to take the opportunities that weren’t taken and if we can play with that flow then that will be great. But there’s an awareness of complacency and we can’t let successive wins breed that.

“We can’t just rock up and think things will happen. We need to really get stuck in and make sure we do our various roles,” Powell said.

Nche, Mbonambi and Thomas du Toit combine as an all-Springbok front row, while Kolisi will be joined in the loose trio by Henco Venter and Sikhumbuzo Notshe.

Grant Williams will continue as the starting scrumhalf, with Curwin Bosch going well at flyhalf.

“It’s good to see Curwin slowly but surely getting back to his best form. Credit to the coaches because in pre-season he was in really good form but then unfortunately got injured.

“But the coaches have all been very positive about him. There’s still room for improvement and we will keep chipping away,” Powell said.

Sharks Boeta Chamberlain, Marnus Potgieter, Lukhanyo Am, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Makazole Mapimpi, Curwin Bosch, Grant Williams, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Henco Venter, Siya Kolisi (c), Gerbrandt Grobler, Eben Etzebeth, Thomas du Toit, Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche. Bench: Kerron van Vuuren, Dian Bleuler, Carlu Sadie, Hyron Andrews, Phepsi Buthelezi, Jaden Hendrikse, Lionel Cronje, Yaw Penxe.

Rapid recycles & direct rugby sees Sharks motor into early lead, before splutter & then running rampant again 0

Posted on July 17, 2023 by Ken

The Sharks motored into a 12-0 lead after just 16 minutes, thanks to rapid recycles of the ball and tremendous direct rugby, but they then spluttered and allowed the Lions back into the game before eventually running rampant from the hour mark to win 37-10 in their United Rugby Championship match at Kings Park on Friday evening.

It was all smooth sailing for the Sharks at the start of the derby and, in the ninth minute, they kept possession through nine phases, after a strong carry by eighthman Phepsi Buthelezi, going right and then left before inside centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg broke the defensive line and passed inside for wing Makazole Mapimpi to score.

With 67% possession in the first half, the Sharks were soon back on attack and, after bashing away on the line against the stout Lions defence, they went wide, two short loop passes being followed by fullback Boeta Chamberlain knifing through for the try.

But the shift in momentum perhaps came straight afterwards as flank Jeandre Labuschagne misjudged the restart, dropping the ball, and Lions wing Edwill van der Merwe was on hand to kick through and score the try.

The Lions gained belief to go with their tireless efforts on defence, and despite making just 35 tackles to the visitors’ 105 in the first half, the Sharks went into halftime just 12-7 up.

Flyhalves Curwin Bosch and Jordan Hendrikse traded scrum penalties in the first six minutes of the second half, but the Sharks eventually showed why they were top of the log in southern hemisphere competition when SuperRugby was killed by Covid and remain one of the most highly-rated teams in Europe.

The turnaround came out of the blue as Chamberlain charged down a clearance by Lions fullback Andries Coetzee, centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg gathered and his pop pass found just the right player in scrumhalf Grant Williams, whose sheer speed from just outside the 22 made his try impossible to stop.

Having defended so much, perhaps fatigue set in for the Lions in the final quarter and they began to make basic errors. Centre Marius Louw strayed in front of the kicker, Jaden Hendrikse took a quick tap for the Sharks, Sikhumbuzo Notshe burst clear and Siya Kolisi rounded off the try.

The ever-busy Mapimpi then kicked through a dropped ball in the Lions backline, his second kick being a touch of Messi-like class, as he grabbed his second try at the death.

Scorers

SharksTries: Makazole Mapimpi (2), Boeta Chamberlain, Grant Williams, Siya Kolisi. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (2), Jaden Hendrikse. Penalties: Bosch, Lionel Cronje.

LionsTry: Edwill van der Merwe. Conversion: Jordan Hendrikse. Penalty: Hendrikse.

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.

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    John 15:16 – “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”

    Our Christian experience begins when the Holy Spirit starts working in our imperfect lives. An inexplicable restlessness and a feeling that nothing can give you the satisfaction you yearn for, could be the Spirit working in you.

    Even when God calls you and chooses you to serve him, there may be inner conflict and confusion because you are not always willing to do what God is asking of you.

    But this inner struggle is part of spiritual life … Commit yourself to God and open yourself to the inflowing of the Holy Spirit.

    It is by great grace that you were chosen by God to serve him and to live to the honour and glory of his name. Surrender unconditionally to the Lord and you will discover that your life gains new meaning and purpose.



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