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Ken Borland



Currie Cup final match-ups 0

Posted on September 29, 2021 by Ken

The flyhalves – Chris Smith v Lionel Cronje

Currie Cup finals are seldom pretty affairs and both Smith and Cronje will probably have to put away many of the slick attacking tricks we know they are both capable of pulling out of the hat. Game-management is going to be their key role on Saturday and much of that depends on the platform given to them by their forwards. So kicking could wll be their key skill: Smith showed his mettle by slotting a 79th-minute penalty to level the scores in last season’s final and he has also come out tops in other high-pressure situations at home. The 32-year-old Cronje has the experience though to know how to vary his play and, having played for both Verblitz and the Brumbies under Jake White, he has insight into the Bulls’ game-plan.

The Bulls loose-trio v the Sharks attackers

The Sharks do like to play a bit of running rugby and Elrigh Louw, Arno Botha and Marcell Coetzee will be like a hit squad lining up to crunch those visitors looking to provide some attacking spark. They love defence so much one can imagine them shouting “My Kill” to each other on the field. The Sharks are effective though in offloading and playing in the wide channels, and they have potent counter-attackers in Thaakir Abrahams, Curwin Bosch and Yaw Penxe. The Bulls are expected to boss the battles at close quarters, while the Sharks will have an edge in pace as the ball goes wider or play gets looser.

Thomas du Toit v Gerhard Steenekamp

The return of the Springbok tighthead will no doubt make a telling difference to the Sharks scrum, as there has been no consistency in that set-piece for them this season. And that’s not to mention the big hits the mobile 26-year-old makes around the field. Du Toit and lock Gerbrandt Grobler bring a lot of experience to a youthful tight five and the World Cup winner will also bring confidence having been one of the standout performers in the Springboks’ victory in the second Test against Argentina.

Du Toit will obviously not have it easy though against Steenekamp, who has been one of the finds of the season for the Bulls, a strong man both in the scrums and the tight exchanges.

Ease with which Bulls killed Sharks’ momentum will weigh heavily on Everitt 0

Posted on September 30, 2020 by Ken

The effectiveness with which the Bulls were able to kill the Sharks’ momentum in last weekend’s SuperFan Saturday match at Loftus Versfeld will weigh heavily on coach Sean Everitt’s mind as he prepares for the tough SuperRugby Unlocked challenges that lie ahead.

While the Sharks set the tone in SuperRugby earlier this year with the brisk tempo of their play and the efficient finishing of their backline, the Bulls showed that both those factors can be taken out of the equation if the KwaZulu-Natalians are beaten at source and don’t get enough quick ball, with the home side romping to a 49-28 win in Pretoria.

The loss of Andre Esterhuizen, Tyler Paul, Juan Schoeman and Le Roux Roets has robbed the Sharks of much go-forward grunt and they will have some other big packs to contend with when Super Rugby Unlocked starts on October 9 when they host the Lions in Durban.

“I thought the Bulls’ breakdown work was outstanding and we battled to get quick ball. Momentum comes from what type of ball you get at the breakdown and it was difficult for us to get any momentum, difficult to get on the front foot. In terms of physicality, the Bulls handled us well. It’s always difficult when you’re under the pump and don’t get over the gain-line.

“You end up making mistakes under pressure and turnovers, which means you’re always on the back foot. So it was obviously not the scoreline we wanted. We wanted to play off turnovers but they negated that and then three missed balls in the air cost us three tries. We will have to reorganise in that area, although we were also a bit unfortunate on attack,” Everitt said.

Given that the Sharks play a high-risk, high-reward type of rugby and that they now have a young side, it was understandable that there were costly moments when sound judgement was not always apparent.

“We certainly took a lot of learnings from the game. We came in with an enlarged squad and a lot of really good youngsters, and in the second half they did exceptionally well, playing the style of rugby we wanted. When you play risky rugby, sometimes things are not going to go well and missing some balls in the air cost us, the Bulls did well in the set-pieces and their breakdown work was outstanding.

“When we were deep inside their 22, maybe we didn’t always take the right options and we’ll now have to refocus. Injuries will happen, that’s part of the game, and we were fortunate not to have many in SuperRugby. But now a perfect scenario would be being able to rotate the squad, but we are still getting contact fit. The good news is James Venter, Henco Venter and Madosh Tambwe should all be available for the Lions game,” Everitt said.

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