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Ken Borland



The car’s most definitely back on the road for the Sharks 0

Posted on July 17, 2023 by Ken

If we think of the Sharks team as being a motor vehicle then the car’s most definitely back on the road and starting to gain speed in the fast lane, following their 37-10 victory over the Lions in their United Rugby Championship derby at Kings Park.

That’s not to say the Sharks did not have spluttering moments. They raced into an early 12-0 lead but then did not score another point in nearly half-an-hour, as the Lions were only down 10-15 as the hour-mark loomed. But the home team then put their foot down in the final quarter and roared away to a five-try, bonus point victory.

Sevens legend Frankie Horne once said that Neil Powell took the Blitzboks car for performance enhancements after previous national coach Paul Treu built the car, and Powell seems to be having a similar effect as director of rugby at the Sharks. They have now won four matches in a row since he took over the head coaching duties, and they played some great rugby against the Lions, their ball-retention and direct attacking style being superb at times.

“We’re obviously always pushing for the perfect game and we had glimpses this evening, but unfortunately we couldn’t keep it up for 80 minutes,” Powell said after the win which lifted the Sharks to sixth on the URC log, but with at least one game in hand over all the teams above them.

“The first 15-20 minutes were exhilarating, but then a couple of soft moments let the Lions back in. Once you give away momentum, it’s difficult to get back.

“But it was another step in the right direction and we know where we can improve. But it’s been great to see the improvement over the last four games, especially the effort in defence.

“At times we were really good, we definitely respected the ball a lot more and asked questions of the opposition defence. Getting through phases was definitely one of our work-ons,” Powell said.

The things Powell said the Sharks could improve on were the stupid mistakes just as they had seized control of the match and being even more patient on attack.

“There were three individual errors after we went 12-0 up and at times the players went out of the structure,” Powell said.

“We can also be a lot more patient on attack inside the 22, it feels as if we’re almost rushing ourselves.

“But we managed the game well in general and only conceded one try. We’re starting to believe that we can be successful in the URC and the EPCR,” Powell said.

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.

Keeping their fine Champions Cup form going is the Sharks’ goal 0

Posted on June 26, 2023 by Ken

Keeping the momentum of their fine Champions Cup form going is the goal of the Sharks on Friday night as they tackle the Lions in a United Rugby Championship match at Kings Park, but whether they can do that having rested a few key Springboks will be the question on coach Neil Powell’s mind.

Having been instrumental in the impressive wins over Harlequins and then Bordeaux-Begles in France, Springboks Eben Etzebeth, Bongi Mbonambi and Ntuthuko Mchunu have all been rested this weekend, while Siya Kolisi, Jaden Hendrikse, Gerbrandt Grobler and Ben Tapuai will play off the bench.

“We’ve had two good EPCR games and we would love to keep the momentum going,” Powell said on Thursday. “So we will keep going with continuity in selection as well.

“We always want to do well, no matter which competition it is, but every home game is especially important. It’s obviously going to be a physical battle looking at the forwards the Lions have selected.

“So we obviously have to match that and we’ve selected a team that will give us the best energy. Some of the changes are part of our rotational policy, maybe giving guys a break.

“The number of game minutes that Siya and Eben have had, not just for the Sharks but the Springboks too, means it is crucially important to manage them well. This was an opportunity for a bit of a break,” Powell said.

Apart from the actual game time, the Sharks have also had a punishing schedule of short weeks and overseas travel, which is a major concern and they will be relying on Alan Temple-Jones being a real conditioning guru to ensure the players can still perform at peak levels.

“The travelling has been tough,” Powell admitted. “We played Friday to Friday and then we only flew back from France on Sunday. So this is a short week again, it makes it difficult.

“The Lions have not done a lot of travel, so we felt the guys coming in for us could bring some extra energy. We have a block of 11 consecutive weeks of games and we are only on game five now.”

Phepsi eager to be a seller of the Sharks brand 0

Posted on June 22, 2023 by Ken

Eighthman and sometime captain Phepsi Buthelezi knows that as a leading player for the franchise he is a seller of the Sharks brand and he says the team are eager to showcase their true capabilities when the United Rugby Championship resumes with a derby clash against the Lions in Durban on Friday night.

The Sharks have certainly made a superb start to the Champions Cup, victories over Harlequins and then Bordeaux-Begles in France lifting them into fourth place in Pool A. But their URC form has been less compelling – they are currently lying in 10th position after four wins and three defeats.

“We feel we’ve been very inconsistent in the URC,” Buthelezi acknowledged. “We haven’t shown yet what we can really do and we want to make our fans proud. We’re targeting the Lions game and the next few, to get to where we want to be.

“Improving our consistency is our aim and I feel we are getting it right. But the Lions have been on a good run, they’re just off a win against Stade Francais, and we know they are on the up and up.

“I’ve been privileged to play in many South African derbies and we know it will be very physical because it means a lot to the teams. Plus we are not where we want to be on the log.

“But we are in a really good space at the moment, on a good run having won three in a row. So the mood in the camp is very good,” Buthelezi said.

The turnaround in the Sharks’ form has, of course, come since director of rugby Neil Powell took over the coaching reins from the axed Sean Everitt. Buthelezi said the last few weeks had seen the team re-look how they go into matches.

“The big thing has been our process during the week, changing how we go into games physically, emotionally and mentally. We feel it will give us more results and we are still carrying those changes into this week.

“The travel has been really tough. But we have embraced it and we’ve enjoyed spending time with one another. We’ve shown true spirit and taken on our challenges.

“I feel fortunate to be part of this amazing squad, with amazing coaches, and I’m just trying to work hard and be consistent as a player and a leader.

“It’s going to be a massive game against the Lions, but we have a few tricks up our sleeves … ” Buthelezi said.

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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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