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Ken Borland

Bulls not enervated by disjointed, error-ridden start 0

Posted on April 04, 2023 by Ken

The Bulls made a disjointed, error-ridden start to their United Rugby Championship match against Cardiff at Loftus Versfeld at the weekend, but it did not enervate them and coach Jake White was pleased by both their physical dominance and some superb touches on attack.

The Bulls scored six tries in a 45-9 thumping, but Cardiff were certainly more competitive than the scoreline suggests, some stout defence by the home side keeping them away from the tryline.

“In the first half we struggled to get our rhythm, we’d go for two or three phases, but it would be slow, slow ball or we would lose possession or concede a penalty,” White said.

“But we chatted about it at halftime and we decided to stay up a bit longer, don’t go to ground so quickly. But we had to work hard for that result after we gave them a good start.

“In the end we could see the power game come through, which is such a massive part of the Bulls game, but also the subtleties of the attack which was very pleasing to see.

“Some of our best players lost a couple of balls in contact and Cardiff loaded the breakdown really well. But it comes at a cost because if you don’t slow the ball down then there is space to attack out wide,” White said.

And the Bulls certainly had the machinery to take advantage of that space, as the visitors’ challenge faded as they were worn down by the heavy-duty bulldozers in the pack.

“We were able to attack that space out wide as Cardiff got more fatigued,” White said. “Canan Moodie and Kurt-Lee Arendse played really well together and every time Cardiff kicked on them you sensed something was going to happen.

“And also with Cornal Hendricks, Lionel Mapoe, Harold Vorster and Johan Goosen, who were all on-song tonight, particularly when you give them good ball on the front foot.

“As soon as Goosen could run on to the ball, he opened holes or put other players away. He passed and ran to the line incredibly well, and the more he plays the better he and the players around him will be.

“I’m really excited, we scored lots of tries and we look dangerous every time the backs get the ball. And if you try a lot then you will make a lot of mistakes, but I don’t want the players to go into their shells,” White said.

Everitt tells Sharks ‘focus on yourselves’ not underdogs’ tag 0

Posted on July 11, 2022 by Ken

The Springbok-laden Sharks are happy to take the underdogs’ tag into their United Rugby Championship quarterfinal against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, even though coach Sean Everitt said it did not matter much and the most important thing in a knockout match was to “focus on yourselves”.

Everitt named a team on Friday with nine Springboks in the starting line-up, while the Bulls have four Springboks in their squad, none of them incumbents.

Little wonder then that the Sharks coach did not put much store in the underdogs tag, even if his players have been fired up by it.

“Being called the underdog probably suits us and the players are very motivated by it,” Everitt said. “The Bulls are a formidable team to target at home, but fortunately we’ve had success in Pretoria and we are not too daunted by it.

“You have to focus on yourselves in quarterfinals because anyone from No.1 to No.8 can win. When you reach the knockouts, it’s about being in it.

“We’ve played good rugby along the way, and unfortunately not getting the result we wanted against Ulster does not make us a bad team. We’re taking a lot of confidence into this game, especially because of our success in the URC against the Bulls.

“Anything can happen on the day, we just have to make sure we focus on our processes and our discipline. And we can’t have soft moments in defence,” Everitt said.

Apart from defensive solidity, the Sharks are going to require a continuation of their recent set-piece dominance over the Bulls and composure under pressure.

“The Bulls have improved their set-piece, but we need that dominance in a knock-out game. That, defence and territory are the three important things and you need all of them.

“The Bulls have really developed their attack well since we beat them in February, they counter-attack well and their kick-return metres have almost doubled. But there are still opportunities for us there.

“At times we have performed really well, but there have been some unfortunate slip-ups. Some of those were controllable, others were not.

“But as a whole we have improved as a team and I am very happy with where we are at. It’s very important for our big players to stand up, their experience is going to be important to bring that calmness we need to be able to focus,” Everitt said.

Sharks: Aphelele Fassi, Werner Kok, Lukhanyo Am, Marius Louw, Makazole Mapimpi, Curwin Bosch, Jaden Hendrikse, Phepsi Buthelezi, Henco Venter, Siya Kolisi, Reniel Hugo, Le Roux Roets, Thomas du Toit (CAPT), Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche, Replacements:  Kerron van Vuuren, Ntuthuko Mchunu, Khutha Mchunu, Ruben van Heerden, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Grant Williams, Boeta Chamberlain, Ben Tapuai.

KZN sign Smuts … and call for system to give more credit to teams who provide several Proteas 0

Posted on June 02, 2022 by Ken

Veteran Proteas all-rounder Jon-Jon Smuts will give the Dolphins much experience and quality next season as they push to steer clear of relegation from Division I, but KZN Cricket Union chief executive Heinrich Strydom on Wednesday criticised the structure of domestic cricket, saying it did not give enough credit to those teams that provide several players to the national teams.

The 33-year-old Smuts, who can bat in the top-order and bowls very useful left-arm spin (especially in white-ball cricket), will be joining the Dolphins from the Eastern Province Warriors, having been based in the Eastern Cape since his first-class debut in 2007.

Smuts has played six ODIs, averaging 45 with the bat, and 13 T20 Internationals, but his last appearance for South Africa was in April 2021, so his days of Proteas call-ups would appear to be over.

Losing players to the national team – nine Dolphins featured in Proteas squads last season – is what Strydom said played a key role in their disappointing 2021/22 campaign, which left them tied in second-last position with the North-West Dragons, six points ahead of the Free State Knights, in the promotion/relegation standings. The bottom team at the end of next season automatically goes down to Division II.

“With the amount of national players we have, never mind the SA A team, we needed another senior guy because we were just left with a few 26/27-year-olds,” Strydom told The Citizen on Wednesday.

“It was a weird season for us, we were the only unbeaten side in four-day cricket but we had three away matches washed out, and the consistency was not there in limited-overs cricket.

“With the new structure, we have players all over the country now, guys like Sibonelo Makhanya and Senuran Muthusamy even captaining their new teams.

“But it doesn’t make sense for a team to be relegated when they provide so many players to South Africa. We even had our coach and strength & conditioning coach with the Proteas for a while, and providing so many people to the national squad puts you at risk.

“The Central Gauteng Lions are in the same position with as many players involved with the Proteas. Imagine not having a Division I team playing at the Wanderers or Kingsmead?” Strydom said.

There is no doubt that, at full strength, both the Lions, who were in danger of being drawn into the relegation battle before their surprising triumph in the One-Day Cup at the end of the season, and the Dolphins are top-class teams that should not be relegated, especially when the side replacing them will almost certainly be of a lesser standard.

Strydom said he is hopeful discussions with the new CSA Board will see a change of heart.

“The basic agreement is done, but will common sense prevail? It’s not an authentic system of developing talent in this country when teams are not playing their own players.

“A lot of the provinces are not a representation of their specific area, and it’s not a level playing field when teams like the Lions and Dolphins provide a much higher percentage of national players.”

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