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Ken Borland



SA A game last available cab for those looking for a ride into Bok team 0

Posted on August 10, 2021 by Ken

Saturday’s hastily arranged match for the SA A team against the Bulls in Cape Town is the last available cab for those members of the Springbok squad who are looking to get a ride into the squad for the first Test next weekend against the British and Irish Lions, which is why coach Jacques Nienaber is expecting plenty of intensity and even desperation from his team.

Realistically, most of this SA A side have a chance of featuring in the Test 23, especially with the Springboks still waiting on several players to clear their Covid Return-to-Play protocols. Tighthead prop Vincent Koch, flank Marco van Staden and flyhalf Elton Jantjies are probably the players with the most to gain as strong performances by them could see them into the starting XV because Frans Malherbe, Siya Kolisi and Handre Pollard have Covid question marks over their names.

“The main purpose of this match is to get more game time and to get good intensity, as well as allowing the players to stake a claim, we want to give everyone fair chance. We wanted three games for all that and we’ve been lucky enough to get that thanks to the Bulls. On Wednesday the team had a different goal, but Saturday will be a big chance for guys to stake a claim for a possible Test start.

“That’s the desperation that drives this group and playing against the top franchise in South Africa should be a phenomenal test. The Bulls have an unbelievable coaching structure and we know they will leave no stone unturned to give us a proper hit out. The fact that it is a unique game – I can’t remember in my time SA A playing against a franchise – adds to how huge it will be,” Nienaber said on Friday.

The Springbok squad just keeps getting bigger as it becomes a vessel for more and more back-up players due to the number of Covid infections, and tighthead prop Wilco Louw, who last played for South Africa before the World Cup in 2019, has made his way back into the picture and will play off the bench against the Bulls.

“Wilco has joined us because of the Covid infections. When a player tests positive, they have to spend 10 days in isolation, but then there’s the Return-to-Play Protocol which has markers the player has to pass like with concussion. So it’s basically 16-17 days before they’re back in the mix, so we still have some players unavailable.

“We only had four props so if we had one more injury then we would not be able to field a front row and would have to forfeit the match. Then there are guys like Dan du Preez for example, who still have Covid and have not been able to play in any of the warm-up games. For a player like that to now make the Test side, they would have to have had extensive time in our system,” Nienaber explained.

SA A team – Aphelele Fassi, Yaw Penxe, Wandisile Simelane, Damian de Allende, Rosko Specman, Elton Jantjies, Cobus Reinach, Kwagga Smith, Rynhardt Elstadt, Marco van Staden, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, Jean-Luc du Preez, Vincent Koch, Joseph Dweba, Coenie Oosthuizen. Bench: Thomas du Toit, Fez Mbatha, Wilco Louw, Jasper Wiese, Sanele Nohamba, Sbu Nkosi, Jesse Kriel, Damian Willemse, Lizo Gqoboka.

Everitt praises new-look Sharks outfit for excellent performance 0

Posted on June 14, 2021 by Ken

Sharks coach Sean Everitt praised his new-look outfit for an excellent performance as they beat the Lions 33-21 at Ellis Park to set themselves up for a virtual semi-final against the Bulls in next weekend’s final round of the Rainbow Cup.

Needing to win with a bonus point to keep their hopes alive, the Sharks fielded a team with 10 changes to their starting line-up and scored five tries to three to hold off a Lions side that showed impressive tenacity and intent, but struggled at the breakdowns and at lineout time.

“It was a massive challenge with all the changes and Covid disruptions, and it’s never easy coming to Ellis Park and beating a Lions team that is on the up and playing some superb rugby. But we have worked hard on the things that were not working in our game and it was a really pleasing performance by the pack and the backs did well with the platform laid for them.

“I knew that there would be no lack of energy because there were a lot of excited youngsters champing at the bit to play. Manie Libbok and Boeta Chamberlain haven’t played for a while, Werner Kok was in a different position, Makazole Mapimpi was back and unbelievable, and Anthony Volmink was outstanding at fullback. This result gives us a lot of confidence,” Everitt said after the game.

While Everitt will have the services of all his players in the Springbok squad for the decisive match against the Bulls in Durban next Saturday, if the Sharks make the Rainbow Cup final then their resources are going to be stretched extremely thin with nine players away in the national camp.

“The depth of the squad will be tested, but on the other hand it’s great for those players to get the opportunity. We’ll choose our strongest possible team for next weekend because we are in with a very good chance of making the final. We need to score four tries and win the game and we haven’t lost yet to the Bulls in the last year at Kings Park.

“We know the Bulls have improved and they always find a way to win, especially when their bench comes on. We lost our last match against them at Loftus but you need to put the whole game in perspective. We just unravelled in the last 20 minutes and they scored four soft tries,” Everitt said.

Everitt an apostle of attacking rugby, but at times Sharks seemed set to get stuck on 12 log points 0

Posted on June 14, 2021 by Ken

The Sharks went into their match against the Lions needing a bonus point win to maintain their hopes of making the Rainbow Cup final and coach Sean Everitt is an apostle of attacking, positive rugby. But there were times when the helter-skelter Sharks seemed destined to get four tries but lose the game and so land on 12 log points, ensuring the Bulls cannot be caught in the last round next weekend.

In the end, the Sharks did eventually repel a gutsy Lions side in the last 10 minutes to register a 33-21 win and they can still win the competition if they beat the Bulls with a bonus point next weekend and don’t allow their visitors any log points.

The Sharks scored three tries in the first half but were still only 19-14 ahead at the break. Their first two tries came through lineout drives and were scored by hooker Kerron van Vuuren.

But their third would have thrilled their coach and was made by outstanding wing Makazole Mapimpi, the World Cup star who rather lorded it over everyone else on the field with a majestic display.

The Lions won a turnover but Sharks fullback Anthony Volmink fielded their kick downfield and had a dart, before passing to Mapimpi, who exploded through a tiny gap, and found scrumhalf Jaden Hendrikse, who miraculously held off several Lions defenders in mid-air, seemingly levitating as he popped the pass to eighthman Phepsi Buthelezi, another chief among the stars on the field, to score.

It was typical of the Lions, however, that they stayed in the game with a try by loose forward Len Massyn in the sixth minute of extra time.

Mapimpi scored himself eight minutes into the second half and this was just a stunning individual effort. The pass out wide had gone to ground so the Lions defence was set, but Mapimpi stepped and then burst, taking five defenders out of the game as he scored an exceptional try to stretch the lead to 24-14. Last October, the 30-year-old’s incredible off-field story was highlighted by the Chasing the Sun documentary, but in his current form he looks like beiing a sensation on the field in the British and Irish Lions series.

The Lions came back again with a rolling maul try by hooker PJ Botha, but the knockout blow by the Sharks came when replacement flyhalf Boeta Chamberlain regathered his own lovely little dink over the top and passed into space for Volmink to score.

Scorers

LionsTries: Andre Warner, Len Massyn, PJ Botha. Conversions: Jordan Hendrikse (3).

SharksTries: Kerron van Vuuren (2), Phepsi Buthelezi, Makazole Mapimpi, Anthony Volmink. Conversions: Manie Libbok (3), Boeta Chamberlain.

Focus on semifinal as Steyn & Van Zyl return to starting action 0

Posted on January 18, 2021 by Ken

With the focus firmly on the Currie Cup semifinal next weekend, Bulls coach Jake White has returned the first-choice halfback pairing of Morne Steyn and Ivan van Zyl to starting action against the Pumas on Sunday, but no-one else travelling to Nelspruit is guaranteed to be involved in the team to play the Lions at Loftus Versfeld.

Having beaten the Lions in midweek in Pretoria, the result against the Pumas cannot change the fact that the Bulls will finish top of the log. With three games in 10 days, White on Saturday announced 11 changes to the team that won the Gauteng derby.

Due to the Covid infection that swept through the squad, the in-form Steyn and Van Zyl have not started a match in a month, and White is obviously looking for them to provide the guidance needed to a very inexperienced backline against the hassling strategies of the Pumas, who always look to put the opposition off their game-plan.

White has also increased the pressure on them by choosing a new-look tight five in which lock Jan Uys is the only player to retain his place.

Uys impressed against the Lions and another strong performance against the Pumas could see him force himself into the reckoning for the semi-final, depending on the fitness of Walt Steenkamp and Sintu Manjezi.

Loose forward Arno Botha, who will captain the team in Nelspruit, could also bring his physical presence to the semi-final, while wing Stravino Jacobs certainly improved his chances of playing with his solid showing in midweek.

The Bulls will at least have a more experienced replacement front row on the bench, with hooker Johan Grobbelaar and props Lizo Gqoboka and Marcel van der Merwe trying to ensure they stay in the squad for the semi-final.

Bulls: Clinton Swart, Jade Stighling, Marnus Potgieter, Dawid Kellerman, Stravino Jacobs, Morné Steyn, Ivan van Zyl, Tim Agaba, Arno Botha (capt), WJ Steenkamp, Janko Swanepoel, Jan Uys, Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Joe van Zyl, Gerhard Steenekamp. Bench – Johan Grobbelaar, Lizo Gqoboka, Marcel van der Merwe, Divan Venter, Elrigh Louw, Keagan Johannes, Kabelo Mokoena, Jay-Cee Nel.

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