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Ken Borland



Bulls rescued by late Steyn penalty, and by Edinburgh miss 0

Posted on November 16, 2022 by Ken

The Bulls were rescued by a 78th-minute Morne Steyn penalty, and the fact that Henry Immelman missed one after the final hooter, as they scraped to a 33-31 win over Edinburgh in a dingdong United Rugby Championship thriller at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

The Bulls made the early running and were dominant and clinical in sailing into a 15-0 lead in 22 minutes. But they were then stunned by the quality and slickness of Edinburgh’s attacking play, and ripped apart by right wing Darcy Graham’s hat-trick of tries.

The Bulls were great going forward, but once Edinburgh recovered from an error-strewn start, including a yellow card to captain Grant Gilchrist, the visitors really tested their defence, which was caught being too narrow at times and also missed one-on-one tackles.

Graham rounded the defence for his opening try in the 32nd minute, Edinburgh cutting the deficit to 14-15 at half time.

The Bulls started the second half superbly with Cornal Hendricks scoring after being set up by the forwards – Elrigh Louw made yards over the gainline after the home side won back the kickoff, Marcell Coetzee broke through on a great inside line, and there was slick interplay between locks Walt Steenkamp and Ruan Nortje.

But Edinburgh immediately struck back as Graham followed up a long-range Mark Bennett penalty that struck the poles and bounced into unguarded territory.

A Chris Smith penalty stretched the Bulls’ lead back to 25-19, but they lost the restart and Graham rounded off a superb try that featured brilliant handling by eighthman Viliame Mata and fullback Immelman.

The Bulls, spluttering between excellence and mediocrity, scored another fine try featuring some good hands in a prolonged build-up, replacement prop Simphiwe Matanzima providing some key energy with a strong carry, before wing Stravino Jacobs ran on to a well-aimed pass from Embrose Papier and stretched over to score.

But Edinburgh just kept on coming and they finally overtook the Bulls with 11 minutes remaining. Playing off a lineout, they showed wonderful attacking skills, the slick hands of their backs working left wing Damien Hoyland over for the try, converted by outside centre Mark Bennett for a 31-30 lead.

The Bulls then conceded a scrum penalty, but Immelman missed from 54 metres out, before the home side then won a penalty at the set-piece. Their lineout was especially dominant on Saturday and they earned another penalty from a driving maul, allowing Steyn to shoot at goal. He was on the 10m line, six metres in from touch, and there was seldom any doubt he would nail the tricky kick.

But then Jacobs went in high on Bennett in a thunderous tackle, and was rightly penalised after extensive consultations between the officials.

Immelman from 46 metres out and 12 metres in from touch, was wide, the Bulls escaping a painful loss.

But Edinburgh have certainly left Loftus Versfeld with immense credit, while the Bulls will need to work on getting more defensive steel.

Scorers

BullsTries: Johan Grobbelaar, Elrigh Louw, Cornal Hendricks, Stravino Jacobs. Conversions: Chris Smith (2). Penalties: Smith (2), Steyn.

EdinburghTries: Charlie Savala, Darcy Graham (3), Damien Hoyland. Conversions: Mark Bennett (3).

Everitt: Sharks meant to force a penalty & meant to avoid giving Bulls the ball 0

Posted on July 12, 2022 by Ken

Having staged a stirring comeback to level the scores at 27-27, the Sharks were meant to keep possession and force a penalty in the final stages of their nailbiting United Rugby Championship quarterfinal against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld, coach Sean Everitt said.

They were also meant to avoid giving the Bulls the ball in their own 22. Sadly for the Sharks, they failed to do both things and the Bulls snatched victory with an 84th-minute drop goal.

“The team is hurting and extremely disappointed,” a gutted Everitt said. “But I am proud of their effort and character. There were just a couple of soft moments, which were disappointing.

“At the end the result could have gone either way and we could have had a bit more fortune in the last five minutes. The plan was to hold on to the ball, put them under pressure and try to earn a penalty.

“We believed we could win, we showed tremendous character and never gave up. But our execution just needed to be a bit better. Things like that last pass just not going to hand.

“And we spoke about discipline and not giving the Bulls the ball in our 22, which is exactly what we did. They are clinical there and they have the best completion rate inside the 22 in the competition,” Everitt said.

The coach said he believes that if he mends a couple of things before next season, the Sharks can go all the way in 2022/23.

“If you look at where we have improved, the set-piece has come on a lot. But our balance on the field has improved too – now we can use our set-piece and we can score tries.

“We put ourselves in position to score tries today and there is no question about the character, culture or team environment because they showed their pride today.

“We just need to fix the rugby side and we especially need to work on the attacking breakdown. We gave the Bulls field position from there, it was a problem against Ulster and in our two previous games against the Bulls,” Everitt said.

By scoring twice in the final quarter to come back from 13-27 down, the Sharks showed their attack is plenty dangerous when it clicks. Phepsi Buthelezi is developing into a top-class ball-in-hand eighthman to provide the link to a backline in which wing Makazole Mapimpi was a threat throughout.

People should not run pell-mell to the conclusion that this is a poorly-coached Sharks team.

“I suppose if you look at Springboks and World Cup winners then we do have a lot of them and they can be proud of their effort. We played some really good rugby.

“I actually enjoyed watching the game even though my blood pressure was probably through the roof. We got the ball through the hands on a couple of occasions and looked really dangerous.

“Under-performance is a broad topic and rugby has a lot of variables. At times we’ve not played as well as we would have liked, and there are certain aspects of our game that need to be worked on.

“Obviously there are things to improve, and they are all fixable. The team has done exceptionally well and they want to play for the jersey,” Everitt said.

Drop goal, turnover, maul and penalty all adds up to a triumph for Bok determination and belief 0

Posted on October 29, 2021 by Ken

A drop goal by Elton Jantjies, a crucial turnover by Duane Vermeulen, a powerful rolling maul and a penalty after the final hooter by the replacement flyhalf secured the Springboks an epic 31-29 win over the All Blacks on the Gold Coast on Saturday, in an heroic victory that was a triumph for South Africa’s determination and belief.

In a gripping finale following a brilliant Springbok comeback that saw them overturn a nine-point deficit, the lead changed hands three times in the last four minutes. Jantjies, who came on because wing Sbu Nkosi suffered a concussion and slotted in at flyhalf, with Handre Pollard moving to centre and Lukhanyo Am shifting out, made a telling impact and Springbok supporters can only wonder what could have been if he had played more.

Three New Zealand tries in the first 33 minutes saw them leading 20-11, but two penalties by Pollard either side of halftime cut the deficit to 17-20. And it was another belated replacement who sparked the surge that took South Africa into the lead – Francois Steyn came out for the second half at fullback in place of a struggling Willie le Roux and produced a brilliant 50/22 kick that gave the Springboks a lineout deep in All Blacks territory.

A midfield ruck was then set up and Faf de Klerk’s skip pass to Jantjies saw the wizard’s slick hands give wing Makazole Mapimpi the space to go over in the corner.

Jantjies then kicked a 58th-minute penalty to stretch their lead to 25-20, before fullback Jordie Barrett slotted two penalties to put New Zealand back in front.

From the restart though, Steven Kitshoff bossed the collision and Jantjies snatched the lead back with a fine 48-metre drop goal.

But then the All Blacks used a short restart to gain a penalty by Barrett.

South Africa then conceded a scrum due to a short restart but, as New Zealand tried to carry for the last minute, Vermeulen pulled off a crucial turnover, allowing the Springboks to set the lineout inside the 22. The rolling maul made significant ground and a half-break by Pollard then saw the All Blacks go offsides at the next phase, Jantjies slotting the matchwinning kick.

The match started in tremendous fashion for the Springboks as a moment of sheer magic by Am, with a behind-the-back reverse-flip to Nkosi, set up Damian de Allende for the opening try.

They continued to create opportunities with a more balanced style of rugby, balancing their strong kicking game with some great use of ball-in-hand. But the All Blacks were more clinical and at 20-11 up after their third try, they looked to be heading to victory.

But then came the superb fightback and the reactions of veterans like Steyn, Jantjies, captain Siya Kolisi and Bongi Mbonambi showed just how much this win meant after a torrid Rugby Championship.

Scorers

New ZealandTries: Sevu Reece, Ardie Savea, Brad Weber. Conversion: Jordie Barrett. Penalties: Barrett (4).

South AfricaTries: Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi. Penalties: Handre Pollard (4), Elton Jantjies (2). Drop goal: Jantjies.

De Allende warns that Bok defence is back at its best, even though NZ slipped from their grasp 0

Posted on October 21, 2021 by Ken

Midfield kingpin Damian de Allende warned on Saturday that the Springbok defence is back at its best, even though the All Blacks were able to just slip from their grasp in the closing moments of their Rugby Championship Test in Townsville, sneaking a 19-17 win through a last-ditch Jordie Barrett penalty.

A stout defensive effort by the Springboks frustrated and harried the All Blacks, who were definitely frazzled and made many uncharacteristic handling errors. It was pressure rugby at its best, but unfortunately South Africa’s lack of attacking intent meant they were unable to capitalise.

“Our defence was much better than in the last two weeks, it was pretty solid and we were dominant in our hits. We got the detail right – they were very good at attacking from set-piece, they move the ball well in contact, but I think we adapted well. New Zealand are a very potent attacking threat but we scrambled well.

“I thought we controlled the tempo of the game quite well, we got into the game nicely, we were dominant. But it was just heartbreaking in the end and I feel we deserved a bit more. But against the Lions we got the last penalty, Australia did it against us and now tonight it’s happened too. But we will keep working hard and hopefully the advantage will turn our way in the next close game,” De Allende said on Saturday.

Kwagga Smith made coach Jacques Nienaber look like a wise old owl with his selection of him as starting flank, the former Springbok Sevens star producing a series of crucial contributions at the breakdown. Smith was at the forefont of a massive effort to restore the pride of the world champions, and All Blacks coach Ian Foster admitted afterwards he was relieved to survive what he called a “ruthless and clinical” onslaught.

Smith promised more of the same next weekend against the same team. “We had real hunger before this game because last week was not a great performance. I think we played well and we were unlucky to fall short. Next weekend is our last game before a break, so I’ll give my all on the field, everyone can leave it all out there,” Smith said.


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