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Ken Borland

Welsh may paint themselves as paupers, but Scarlets push Stormers all the way 0

Posted on June 24, 2022 by Ken

Welsh rugby may be painting themselves as the paupers of the United Rugby Championship, but the Scarlets pushed the Stormers all the way in their match in Llanelli on Saturday night, the visitors scoring a last-minute try to win 26-21.

Winning the match at the death meant the Stormers have won the South African Shield and will have a home quarterfinal.

A poor start by the Stormers saw them trailing 10-0 inside seven minutes as Scarlets flyhalf Sam Costelow kicked a penalty and the home side then fashioned a superb try. Scrumhalf Gareth Davies’ lovely little chip over the defensive line was taken by centre Jonathan Davies, who then passed inside for midfield partner Johnny Williams to score.

The Stormers did reply in the 14th minute with a fine try, eighthman Evan Roos storming off a scrum and centre Damian Willemse making further ground before the visitors switched to the left. Flank Hacjivah Dayimani put in a great run out wide and then wing Leolin Zas just had way too elusive feet for the last defender.

But Scarlets still led 16-7 as the first half was coming to a close. The Stormers, for all their razzle-dazzle at the back, dominant scrum and Roos’s bossing of the gain-line, had little to show for it.

But the impressive Roos once again put them on the front foot in the 38th minute, and after the Stormers had bashed away on the line for quite some time, the Springbok hopeful then got the ball again and crossed over with ease for the try.

It meant the Stormers only trailed 16-14 at the break and they started the second half brilliantly by taking the lead for the first time in the 42nd minute. Slick hands by flyhalf Manie Libbok and Willemse saw outside centre Ruhan Nel take advantage of a dreadful defensive miscalculation by Scarlets, roaring through a big gap and powering over the tryline.

Leading 21-16, it all seemed set for the Stormers, chasing a second-place finish on the log, to pull away.

But instead they delivered a poor second half.

Some poor decision-making loosened their grip on the game and then flank Deon Fourie received a controversial yellow card in the 59th minute, for a high tackle. He was unfortunate because contact was initially with the chest/shoulder region but he then slid up to hit the chin, as prop Frans Malherbe completed the tackle.

Scarlets piled on the pressure in the final quarter, but determined defence by the Stormers managed to keep them out while they were reduced to 14 men. But another ruck penalty awarded to the home side put Scarlets back on attack and, after concerted pressure on the line, they went wide for wing Ryan Conbeer to score and level the scores. Liam Williams was not able to convert from near to the touchline, though, meaning Ospreys won the Welsh Shield and qualified for the European Champions Cup.

The Stormers rallied though and spent the closing minutes in the Scarlets 22. In the final minute, fullback Warrick Gelant joined the line and threw a long pass out wide to Nel, who is such a powerful runner and he cut inside, through Liam Williams’ tackle, to score the matchwinning try.

The bonus point win means mission accomplished for the Stormers, but coach John Dobson has much to mull.


ScarletsTries: Johnny Williams, Liam Williams. Conversion: Sam Costelow. Penalties: Costelow (3).

StormersTries: Leolin Zas, Evan Roos, Ruhan Nel (2). Conversions: Manie Libbok (3).

Landmark moment for Swiel & Neethling as WP snatch last-minute win 0

Posted on January 11, 2021 by Ken

Western Province snatched a last-minute 31-29 win over the Free State Cheetahs in their Currie Cup match in Bloemfontein on Saturday, in what may turn out to be a landmark moment in the careers of flyhalf Tim Swiel and tighthead prop Neethling Fouche.

The 27-year-old Fouche is a journeyman who went from Grey College in Bloemfontein to the University of Pretoria, but failed to cement a place with the Bulls. He then joined Western Province but has again only enjoyed sporadic appearances. On Saturday, coming on as a replacement for the formidable Frans Malherbe, Fouche conceded a scrum penalty to Free State’s behemoth loosehead Boan Venter, which allowed the Cheetahs to snatch a 29-28 lead.

But with the final hooter imminent, Western Province were awarded a scrum and Fouche managed to turn the tables and win a penalty against Venter.

Step up Swiel, also 27 and who played nine times each for Western Province and the Sharks, before heading back to England, where he was born, in 2014 to play for Harlequins and Newcastle. He returned to Cape Town this year but initially had to play second fiddle while the more flamboyant talents of Damian Willemse were tried at flyhalf.

But on Saturday, from 49 metres out and on an angle, Swiel was able to land the penalty and keep Western Province on course for a home semi-final; if he had missed, they would have slipped to fourth on the log and been in danger of missing the playoffs all together. His kick has also ended Free State’s hopes of defending their Currie Cup title.

Swiel had earlier landed six other penalties as Western Province punished the ill-discipline of the Cheetahs and took a 23-9 lead after 53 minutes.

But then Free State wing Rosko Specman made his mark, first of all sparking the counter-attack, Venter showing his all-round skills with a good run and slick hands, which allowed the home side to kick a penalty to touch, setting the rolling maul from which hooker Wilmar Arnoldi scored.

Two minutes later, fullback Clayton Blommetjies fielded a kick ahead by Western Province around the halfway line and sliced through a gap in the chase line, before feeding Specman, who raced away to score and suddenly the match was all square at 23-23.

It was an astonishing comeback because for most of the first hour, Western Province had looked in firm control. Their industrial-strength scrum and the Cheetahs’ own ill discipline was earning them a steady flow of penalties. As the first half came to an end, it was still a tightly-fought contest on the scoreboard though with the visitors only 12-9 ahead.

But a massive eight-man scrum allowed Swiel to kick a penalty deep inside the Free State 22. Hardworking loose forward Jaco Coetzee then burst around the front of the lineout and, with the Cheetahs expecting a maul, there was only one defender in front of him, the poor scrumhalf, and he blasted over for the try to give Western Province a 17-9 lead at the break.

Two offsides penalties early in the second half stretched that to 23-9 and the contest looked over. But Free State mounted a ferocious comeback and Western Province were hard-pressed to hold their nerve in the end.


Free State CheetahsTries: Wilmar Arnoldi, Rosko Specman. Conversions: Francois Steyn (2). Penalties: Steyn (5).

Western ProvinceTries: Jaco Coetzee, Bongi Mbonambi. Penalties: Tim Swiel (7).

*Lions fullback Tiaan Swanepoel will return from Nelspruit with 22 points in his property as he spearheaded their 33-25 win over the Pumas on Saturday.

The hard-fought triumph means the Lions are still in the hunt for a home semi-final, with Swanepoel’s two tries and four penalties playing the major role in that.

*The Sharks posted a comprehensive 47-19 win over Griquas in Durban which ended their two-match losing streak.

They are now level with the Lions on 33 points, two points behind the Bulls and Western Province.

Next week’s matches between the Bulls and Lions and Western Province and the Sharks will be crucial in deciding who gets home semi-finals.

Lions finish strong in dramatic win over Bulls 0

Posted on June 02, 2016 by Ken


The Emirates Lions shrugged off any suggestions that they might fade after returning from their epic tour of Australasia as they snatched a last-minute 22-18 win over the Vodacom Bulls in a dramatic SuperRugby match at Ellis Park on Saturday.

For 79 minutes there weren’t any tries, but there was no shortage of intensity nor excitement as the two neighbours went at each other tooth, claw and horns, flyhalves Elton Jantjies and Jacques-Louis Potgieter trading the penalties that came from hard-earned, narrow advantages.

There also cannot be any doubts about the belief within this Lions side either as, having controversially seen Jaco Kriel called up for a marginal late tackle by the TMO, the penalty being advanced into range for Potgieter to give the Bulls an 18-15 lead with less than a minute to play, they came storming up in defence to set themselves up for the dramatic winning try.

Hooker Armand van der Merwe is the sort of employee any union would want – he sits long hours on the bench but never fails to make an impact when he comes on and is a constant source of inspiration for his team-mates. The stocky 23-year-old merely added to his growing legend at Ellis Park as he barged over for the winning try after the Lions had tapped the penalty they earned after counter-rucking the Bulls off the ball from the restart.

For most of the first half, it looked as if the slow poison of the Bulls would get the better of the Lions. The visitors had dominated territory and possession, and although the attacking play of the Lions had looked sharp, they simply never had enough of the ball.

The effects of the strangulation took a while to be reflected on the scoreboard, however, as Potgieter missed an early drop-goal attempt and two long-range penalties, while Jantjies took six points from the Lions’ two forays into Bulls’ territory.

But the ferocious work of the Bulls at the breakdowns and in defence eventually took its toll.

The scrums were a terrific contest throughout and the Bulls gained an early confidence boost with a massive effort that shoved the Lions back 15 metres, earning Potgieter’s first successful kick at goals in the 26th minute.

The powerful driving play of Trevor Nyakane, Pierre Spies and Deon Stegmann earned another three points eight minutes later and then the power of the rolling maul allowed Potgieter to put the Bulls 9-6 ahead at the break.

The Lions started the second half with all the verve they are famous for, lifting the tempo and stretching the Bulls. But eventually the stout defence forced the error and the Bulls swept upfield. They looked set to score the opening try in the left corner, but the ball went astray and they could not add to their lead.

It was obviously a crucial moment as the game then “regressed” into a tremendous arm-wrestle, with penalties the only concessions either side was willing to give.

The scrum took centre stage and the penalties went this way and that as the reserve front rows came on.

Jantjies first levelled the scores at 9-9 in the 57th minute and then claimed a 12-9 lead after Morne Mellet lost his bind  and scrummed in on the loosehead side.

But the Lions were then penalised for hands in the ruck (12-12) and then the Bulls scrum won another penalty for Potgieter in the 70th minute.

The Bulls’ 15-12 lead only lasted four minutes, however, as the Lions’ maul then steamrolled their way to another penalty, kicked by Jantjies.

But the controversial Kriel penalty in the 79th minute seemed to have decided the outcome, before the Lions showed the spirit and belief that characterised the matches overseas to claim the spoils from the most dramatic of matches.


Lions – Try: Armand van der Merwe. Conversion: Elton Jantjies. Penalties: Jantjies (5).

Bulls – Penalties: Jacques-Louis Potgieter (6).

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