for quality writing

Ken Borland

Advisable not to watch Sharks at the moment; ugly win over Ospreys 0

Posted on March 29, 2023 by Ken

It’s probably advisable not to watch the Sharks play rugby at the moment because it’s a bit like watching someone struggle with a serious illness in hospital; their latest display being an ugly 25-10 win over the Ospreys at Kings Park in which they scored 14 points in the last three minutes.

The sacking of head coach Sean Everitt was not the instant panacea some people expected it would be, as the Sharks were still severely lacking in polish, error-ridden in the red zone and disorganised on attack. The fact that they were only leading by one point at home after 76 minutes against a side that had won just one of their previous eight matches says it all.

Of greatest concern was the number of basic errors they made, far too many to be considered serious contenders for any silverware.

That the Sharks had more than enough chances to put the Ospreys away was thanks to the utter dominance of their scrum and their excellent defence leading to several turnovers at the breakdown.

And yet, despite enjoying 60% of possession and territory in the first half, they could only lead 6-0 at the break through two Curwin Bosch penalties. The flyhalf was playing his first URC game of the season after a fractured arm in pre-season, and showed enough glimpses of class to suggest the Sharks should persevere with him in the No.10 jersey.

The Sharks were then rocked soon after the break when Ospreys scored a try of genuine quality. Eighthman Morgan Morris and prop Rhys Henry burst clear from a lineout inside their own half, and then there was great work down the short side by the forwards, leading to scrumhalf Matthew Aubrey being stopped just short of the line by a great Bosch tackle. The ball was recycled though and flyhalf Jack Walsh put in an excellent crosskick for wing Luke Morgan to score.

The Sharks did at least provide a prim and proper response as flank Sikhumbuzo Notshe turned over possession from the restart and then scored from close range after a maul.

Despite their dominance, the Sharks were left with a really nervous finish as the replacement front row conceded a scrum penalty and Morris forced his way between two poor tackles on the tryline to score and close the gap to just one point again with 13 minutes remaining.

The Sharks did at least finish strongly, sealing the win in the 77th minute as Bosch ran around to find a hole in the defence and score after the forwards had bashed away at close range against a stout Ospreys defence. Replacement flank James Venter then added some gravy as he forced his way over for a try.

But there was little for director of rugby and new head coach Neil Powell to feel comfortable about.


SharksTries: Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Curwin Bosch, James Venter. Conversions: Bosch (2). Penalties: Bosch (2).

OspreysTries: Luke Morgan, Morgan Morris.

Bok heroes now trending towards zero as Jake takes a potshot 0

Posted on August 22, 2022 by Ken

Jacques Nienaber and Rassie Erasmus, the duo who became heroes by turning a Springbok side at its lowest ebb into world champions, are now trending towards zero in some critics’ eyes, with fellow World Cup winning coach Jake White the latest to take a potshot.

White, now spearheading the Bulls’ renaissance as director of rugby at Loftus Versfeld, took a thinly veiled swipe at Nienaber’s lack of coaching experience in a column he wrote for the Rugby Pass website on Thursday.

Criticising the decision to make 14 changes to the Springbok starting XV and suffering an historic first defeat to Wales on home turf last weekend in Bloemfontein, White said Nienaber should have learnt not to experiment at Test level in that fashion at junior or club level.

“Making 14 changes obviously didn’t work for the Springboks and personally, I think Jacques Nienaber missed a trick,” White wrote. “There’s an expectation that you win every time you play in South African colours and the margins in Test rugby are incredibly small.

“I’m told his rationale for picking that second Test team was because he … didn’t want them to just be playing a dead rubber in the third Test. I’d say I don’t think there should ever be a dead rubber Test when you’re playing at home.

“The job of a national coach is to win Test matches. National coaches shouldn’t use Tests to see if players are good enough, thats what A sides or training is for.

“You’re not a national coach to learn lessons. You learn that at age-grade or club level – I mean that sincerely – there’s a reason people go through a system to become national coach,” White said.

The often-outspoken coach added that Wales will love the prospect of a winner-takes-all contest in Cape Town and the situation the Springboks have put themselves in.

“What I’m expecting on Saturday is massive amounts of pressure that he [Nienaber] didn’t need. Nienaber could have won the Series and now he’s created a real cauldron in Cape Town.

“It’s at sea level, and the Welsh will be boosted by the fact they’ve contested Tests on the highveld. Wales will come brimming with confidence. I’ve coached against them, and the one thing they don’t do is go away.

“Going back to selection, when Sir Gareth Edwards, one of the greatest players of all time, said it was a slap in the face, I can’t believe it wasn’t a real motivation for the Welsh team.

“Wales won’t make changes to a winning team. With consistency comes confidence. It’s backs to the wall for the Boks and if they don’t get the proper game going, they could lose the series,” White said.

Disappointing Proteas are going to need to stamp out this infuriating inconsistency 0

Posted on April 19, 2022 by Ken

The Proteas really are extremely hard work for their fans, the latest grave distress they have inflicted on them being their hugely disappointing series loss to Bangladesh in the ODIs.

It is Bangladesh’s first series win in South Africa in all formats and they are going to be favourites now going into the two-Test series. Conditions at Kingsmead and St George’s Park are probably going to be low and slow, the Proteas are missing five frontline players who have chosen to go to the IPL instead and the tourists certainly have all the momentum with them.

How South Africa managed to lose to Bangladesh in a three-match series on the Highveld, with plentiful bounce on offer in all three games, is baffling though and the shockwaves are going to reverberate around the ODI team for a while.

What makes the loss even more dismaying is how poorly they played in the deciding match and also the fact that this same team, minus Kagiso Rabada, beat India 3-0 in their previous engagement.

It is this infuriating inconsistency that the Proteas are going to have to stamp out. Several wins are required for them to qualify automatically for the World Cup next year and South Africa are certainly not going to be contenders unless there is a greater steadiness to the execution of their 50-over skills.

Top limited-overs teams always talk about intent these days and that was rather lacking from the Proteas batsmen. Intent is, of course, easier to show once a partnership has taken control of the innings and one of the major differences between the Bangladesh and Indian series was that South Africa had major partnerships in the latter. Temba Bavuma and Rassie van der Dussen both scored hundreds in their incredible partnership in the first ODI, openers Janneman Malan and Quinton de Kock took the Proteas to 212/2 in the 35th over in the second match, and centurion De Kock and Van der Dussen shared a crucial stand of 144 in the last game.

The overs after the fall of a wicket are always a tricky time for the batting side, but in the deciding match against Bangladesh, Malan, who had started at about a run-a-ball, inexplicably went into his shell after De Kock’s dismissal. He had 28 off 31 balls at the end of the over before the wicketkeeper holed out at long-off, but then began leaving balls outside off stump and was eventually dismissed for 39 off 56 deliveries.

That innings included seven fours, which points to the fact that Malan was too block-block-block-four-block-block-block in his innings; De Kock had only faced eight balls at the time of his dismissal in the seventh over, the lack of rotation of strike probably causing frustration.

Malan (65.09), Bavuma (59.32) and Kyle Verreynne (74.57) all had strike-rates of below 80 in the series; 80 should always be the benchmark in decent batting conditions. Bangladesh certainly showed that as none of their batsmen scored at less than 74 runs per 100 balls.

South Africa also need to look at the composition of their attack. Simply choosing the Test bowlers and adding Tabraiz Shamsi and an all-rounder like Phehlukwayo or Pretorius is not cutting it in ODI cricket.

Different, specialist skills are needed, especially at the death. If Rabada and Lungi Ngidi don’t strike up front then they are in trouble, generally needing Shamsi to bail them out in the middle overs.

There also clearly needs to be a discussion over whether the fitness tests are helping the team or hurting them. While Lizelle Lee was able to join the Women’s World Cup squad late and lacking match fitness, Sisanda Magala was ruled out of the Bangladesh series because he failed a fitness test. While taking bags full of wickets for the Central Gauteng Lions, scoring vital lower-order runs and generally showing the skills so sorely lacking in the Proteas attack.

And it seems the Proteas need a full-time sports psychologist in camp as well.

Northerns latest team to be stung by irrepressible Boland 0

Posted on April 04, 2022 by Ken

The Northerns Titans became the latest team to be stung by the irrepressible bowling and fielding of the Boland Rocks as the Paarl-based side shocked the tournament favourites by beating them by 15 runs in the CSA T20 Challenge final at St George’s Park on Sunday.

Chasing a modest 139 for victory, Northerns slumped to 29/3 inside the powerplay, but put themselves back into position to win with two handy middle-order partnerships.

Heinrich Klaasen (17) and Sibonelo Makhanya (37) added 35 for the fourth wicket as Northerns recovered to 64/3 at the halfway stage.

Klaasen was then beaten in the flight and bowled by left-arm spinner Siyabonga Mahima, but Makhanya and Donovan Ferreira made them favourites as they added 35 in 4.1 overs, needing just 40 more off 34 balls to win.

A run out changed everything though as Ferreira was caught short by Ferisco Adams after confusion with Makhanya, and Hardus Viljoen then took a stinging return catch next ball to dismiss Aya Gqamane (0), the last of the recognised batsmen.

Boland were sharp at the death and the Titans closed on 123/9.

The spin of Mahima (4-0-22-2) and Imraan Manack (4-0-14-2) obtained bite out of the St George’s Park pitch and fatally undermined the Northerns’ chase, while fast bowler Viljoen took 2/14 in three overs.

Having elected to bat first, Boland lost wickets at regular intervals, but the fact they got to 138/6 loans credibility to the importance of having an anchoring batsman in T20 cricket.

Captain Pieter Malan, the leading run-scorer in the tournament, scored 71 of those runs off just 56 balls, batting through to the penultimate over in a matchwinning effort.

Viljoen provided a late boost to the innings by blasting 32 not out off just 16 deliveries.

Spinner Tabraiz Shamsi, helped by the tremendous frugality of Aaron Phangiso, who conceded just 13 runs in his four overs, once again ruled the middle overs with 3/20, while seamer Lizaad Williams was also good with 2/30.

But the Boland Rocks, the new franchise in the blossoming cricket area of Paarl, were worthy and popular champions.

  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • Thought of the Day

    Mark 7:8 – “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.”

    Our foundation must be absolute surrender, devotion and obedience to God, rising from pure love for him. Jesus Christ must be central in all things and his will must take precedence over the will of people, regardless of how well-meaning they may be.

    Surrender yourself unconditionally to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, then you will be able to identify what is of man with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Then you will be able to serve – in love! – according to God’s will.

↑ Top