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Ken Borland

Bulls’ attacking seeds bear fruit as they thump Cardiff 0

Posted on April 04, 2023 by Ken

The Bulls planted plenty of attacking seeds and the important ones bore fruit as they showed they remain one of the best sides in the United Rugby Championship at home, thumping Cardiff 45-9 at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday night.

Cardiff were certainly more competitive than the scoreline suggests, but they lacked the same ability to convert chances in the 22, while the Bulls also deserve credit for a stout defensive effort.

But it was the Bulls attack that will be the focus as they scored six tries to stay fourth on the URC log. Not every pass stuck for the Bulls though, there were plenty of handling errors, but they won comfortably just through the sheer number of chances the combination of strong forward carries and a dashing, inventive backline creates.

The Bulls took a while to find their flow and Cardiff were leading 6-3 as the half-hour approached through two Jarrod Evans penalties. But when the home side finally managed to hang on to possession for several phases, fullback Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie combined superbly to send the wing over for the opening try. Their work in tandem was beautiful to watch right through the match.

Another Evans penalty meant the Bulls were only 10-9 ahead as halftime approached, but the home side made a crucial strike on the hooter as they won a scrum penalty, set the lineout and flyhalf Johan Goosen put Arendse over for the try.

The Bulls, leading 17-9 at the break, continued to gain great dividends from their combination of power and pace and flair in the second half.

Goosen split the defence and scored three minutes after halftime as the Bulls took firm control with a 24-9 lead. They were on the back foot for the next 15 minutes, but dug in in defence, with Cardiff’s maul a threat, but a weapon they failed to capitalise on through their own errors.

The Bulls then buried Cardiff in the final quarter with three more tries. Penetrative eighthman Elrigh Louw made big inroads off the back of a lineout, lock Ruan Nortje then crashing over for the try.

Arendse then produced a lovely little dink-kick over the top of the defensive line for Moodie to score his second try, while Louw scored a deserved try with three minutes remaining as he went over from a brilliantly-deceptive splinter-maul.


Bulls: Tries – Canan Moodie (2), Kurt-Lee Arendse, Johan Goosen, Ruan Nortje, Elrigh Louw. Conversions – Goosen (5), Chris Smith. Penalty – Goosen.

Cardiff: Penalties – Jarrod Evans (3).

Coetzee will go to Japan, but will be back in the Bulls community 0

Posted on January 16, 2023 by Ken

Captain Marcell Coetzee will go to Japan after leading the Bulls against one of his former teams, the Sharks, in Pretoria on Sunday, but he assured on Wednesday that he will be back to resume his crucial role in the Loftus Versfeld community.

“This weekend is my last match for the Bulls this year, and I will be back at the back end of April or the first week of May,” Coetzee confirmed. “It’s a big opportunity for me in Japan with Kobe.

“But the positive is that I know I’m coming back, I missed my country too much during my five years with Ulster. It’s an honour playing for the Bulls and my home is in Pretoria, that’s where my heart definitely is.

“My rugby career started at the Sharks, they gave me a gap and were very good to me. But time moves on. And I’m very happy where I am with the Bulls, the staff and the team spirit we have built up.

“There’s lots of history between the Bulls and the Sharks, so it’s always a very physical battle. It’s going to be tough, even without their Springboks, a titanic struggle,” Coetzee said.

While one can never criticise a 31-year-old player for chasing a lucrative deal like this Japanese sojourn, and the Bulls are happy to treat it as a sabbatical for a player who they recently contracted until 2026, Coetzee hopes he will also come back a different player.

“In 2015 I spent three months in Japan with Honda Heat and my skill-set really improved,” the Springbok with 31 Test caps said. “So I’ll be looking to develop certain things while I’m there.

“They play very high-tempo rugby in Japan and you run a lot. The URC is getting quicker as well, especially when you play against the Irish and Scottish teams.

“The move will hopefully keep me on my toes because there are a lot of loosies coming through,” Coetzee said.

But for now, Coetzee’s focus will be on chasing the ball at the breakdown, as he did so brilliantly in the Bulls’ much-needed win over Benetton in Treviso last weekend.

“How the game has developed, teams put a lot of pressure on the breakdown, especially the UK teams, because you’re trying to eliminate the tempo of the opposition.

“We are blessed to have a few guys who make good decisions there – Marco van Staden, Bismarck du Plessis and a couple of backs.

“Against Benetton, we were firing shots and eventually the dam wall broke because we were able to implement our quick tempo game and we got a bonus point.

“We need to show the same patience against the Sharks, put pressure on them. We have to really show up because we can’t just rely on home ground advantage,” Coetzee said.

Sand dunes and bush of St Francis Links a confusing test of temperament 0

Posted on November 28, 2022 by Ken

CAPE ST FRANCIS, Eastern Cape – Golfing in the sand dunes and bush of the St Francis Links can be a confusing experience for those who do not know one of South Africa’s top courses well and director of golf Jeff Clause, a Master PGA Professional, says the Vodacom Origins of Golf Sunshine Tour event that will start there on Thursday will be a test of temperament.

Being the fun-loving, entertaining character he is, Clause uses a song to describe how the professionals should approach the magnificent Jack Nicklaus designed course.

“It’s like the Kenny Rogers song The Gambler – ‘You’ve got to know when to hold them and know when to fold them’,” Clause says. “There are holes that demand much respect and others, if you’re with the wind, that you can attack.

“When you’re out there in the dunes, there’s more to the course than meets the eye. It can be visually distorting and often there is more room than what you see. I think this course really excels in some wind, but not necessarily the tough conditions we had on the first day of the pro-am.

“All links and coastal courses have wind as a factor in the design and we are generally an east-west course. There are three par-threes that go across north-south, and one par-four and one par-five, meaning there are 13 holes that will be either downwind or into the wind.

“The difference can be three clubs. But we’ve given golfers as much landing area as we can and the course is a lot more playable than when we opened in 2007. This will be our 12th Vodacom Origins of Golf event and, in the first one, +9 made the cut, while 13-under was the winner last year,” Clause says.

“Our aim is to make it more than a putting contest. It takes more than that to win here. Why I love links golf is because it requires more shots. If you learn to play here, you can play anywhere.

“It’s more about shot-making, where you put the ball, where you leave it for the next shot. You can burn up every hole or you can blow it, so you need a strong mind around here.

“Steve Surry had a putt for 62 here last year in the PGA Championship, while on a bad day, pro golfers are tiptoeing around 90 here.

“Next year is the 100th anniversary of the PGA Championship, and our aim is to return that tournament to past glories.

“But we also love the Vodacom Origins of Golf series, we love working with them, I like the format which brings the amateurs in to enjoy our course. We have property owners here who have bought because of this tournament,” Clause says.

SA20 franchises make a hash of auction, got Bavuma all wrong 0

Posted on November 08, 2022 by Ken

The SA20 Auction was always going to be one of the key events in the build-up to the launch of the new T20 league early next year, crucial in getting the public behind Cricket South Africa’s proposed financial saviour.

Unfortunately the six franchises made a complete hash of it by snubbing one of this country’s most popular players. I’m not sure whether Temba Bavuma’s status as captain of the national T20 team or the fact he is a role-model and hero to so many is most important, but either way, he should be playing in the SA20.

His highly-controversial snubbing – there is no other word for it when you fail to get a bid despite going on auction three times – has led to ferocious debate. Some of it has been so lacking in clarity of thought or decent humanity that it reminds me a bit of how Hashim Amla was treated in the early stages of his international career. Despite scoring prolifically for KwaZulu-Natal, Amla had many critics who said he would never make it at international level.

Amla showed ‘em alright how wrong that characterisation of his abilities was.

Let’s be clear, I’m not saying Bavuma should automatically have been bought simply because he is a Proteas captain, or his popularity, or the colour of his skin. I’m saying choose him because there are compelling cricketing reasons to do so.

That the 32-year-old is not the most explosive T20 batsman is a given, but he can perform a very important role in the top-three, especially when conditions give the bowlers a bit of assistance. I watched him score an outstanding century at the Wanderers to win the Highveld Lions the T20 title against the Warriors in 2019.

My point is three of the franchises clearly chose players instead of Bavuma who do not have better records than him.

My alarm bells were ringing when Sunrisers Eastern Cape bought Marques Ackerman in the 12th round of bidding, admittedly for just R175 000, compared to Bavuma’s base price of R850 000, which was clearly set too high, either by himself or whoever advised him poorly.

Because we’re going to be comparing records of these top-three batsmen, Bavuma’s T20 stats are the baseline. In 25 internationals, he has a strike-rate of 120.60 and an average of 26.76. But there were some purely domestic players who were chosen ahead of him, so Bavuma’s local stats are 100 matches, a strike-rate of 124.67 and an average of 30.52.

Ackerman has played just 39 domestic T20s and strikes at 123.68, with an average of 24.25.

There was an even bigger warning that Bavuma was in for humiliation when Durban Super Giants bought West Indian Johnson Charles in the next round. A bang-average T20 player based on his stats: In 34 internationals, he has a strike-rate of only 121.68 and an average of only 21.93. His domestic figures are 128.63 and 25.76. And before you bring up his wicketkeeping, Durban already had Quinton de Kock and Heinrich Klaasen in their squad.

In the next round, Super Kings bought Matthew Breetzke, a sound investment in up-and-coming talent, but he has a domestic strike-rate of 129.43 and an average of 24.78. Like many of the local cricketers, half of those matches have been in the semi-pro ranks, so you really cannot compare him with Bavuma.

When Sunrisers Eastern Cape then bought Test opener Sarel Erwee in Round 15, it really seemed like the auction was merely a device for our IPL overlords to ram home some sort of anti-transformation agenda.

Erwee strikes at 123.64 and has an average of 24.70.

One wonders how much local input the franchises used.

And considering the awful racist targeting of Bavuma and Andile Phehlukwayo, whose omission from the SA20 is also a shock, by some Indian social media, and the right-wing, anti-liberal current Indian government, one wonders whether there is not more to these auction outcomes than meets the eye.

We sincerely hope not.

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