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Ken Borland

Do the Sharks have a cat’s ability to land back on their feet? 0

Posted on June 14, 2022 by Ken

A cat’s ability to right itself and land back on its feet whenever it takes a tumble is well-documented, but whether the Sharks can do the same when they visit the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday for their Currie Cup match remains to be seen.

The Sharks were humbled 20-10 by the Pumas at Kings Park last weekend and now have to play the unbeaten Cheetahs at their home ground, with the Free Staters no doubt sensing a prime opportunity to take control of first place on the log.

The KwaZulu-Natalians are trying to hold off the Griquas and Pumas in the semi-final race, but right now coach Etienne Fynn just wants to see a much-improved display from his side.

“There will definitely be a reaction to last week and hopefully a positive one,” Fynn said on Friday. “We are emotionally bruised, but I expect us to get back on track.

“It’s about sticking to the plan and individual role-execution is critical. It’s never going to work if the players don’t stick to the plan and this week has been a time of self-reflection and getting clarity.

“The buck stops with me as coach, but if the players don’t come back with the answers we’re looking for, then you have to react in terms of selection.

“Fortunately we’ve had positive reactions from the guilty parties from last weekend and we’ve trained well. We’ll have more cohesion because 80% of the team have been playing Currie Cup right through,” Fynn said.

As ever when playing the Cheetahs, Fynn said the key to the Sharks’ success lay in them not allowing veteran Springboks Francois Steyn and Ruan Pienaar to run the game for the Free Staters.

“The Cheetahs are a very settled group, they’ve kept the same combination through the tournament. We simply have to put them under pressure, bring the heat and force those key players to make decisions.

“We have to ensure we disrupt their quality ball and I don’t think it ever goes beyond dominating up front in South African rugby.

“The Cheetahs certainly know how to open the tap and close it, they manage the game well. They can play the throttle game – turn you and make you make mistakes.

“They are a settled combination at home, so it’s going to be a tough time in Bloemfontein,” Fynn admitted.

A hip-and-happening festival will be held in the stadium precincts and the Cheetahs, with such exciting players as Rosko Specman and Cohen Jasper in their backline, will be looking to play some festival rugby.


Free State Cheetahs – Cohen Jasper, Daniel Kasende, David Brits, Francois Steyn, Rosko Specman, Siya Masuku, Ruan Pienaar (C), Mihlali Mosi, Andisa Ntsila, Gideon van der Merwe, Victor Sekekete, Aidon Davis, Aranos Coetzee, Marnus van der Merwe, Schalk Ferreira. Bench: Cameron Dawson, Louis van der Westhuizen, Conraad van Vuuren, Ockie Barnard, Jeandrè Rudolph, Rewan Kruger, Reinhardt Fortuin, Chris Smit.

Sharks – Nevaldo Fleurs, Marnus Potgieter, Jeremy Ward (c), Murray Koster, Anthony Volmink, Boeta Chamberlain, Cameron Wright, Mpilo Gumede, Thembelani Bholi, Dylan Richardson, Hyron Andrews, Emile van Heerden, Lourens Adriaanse, Fez Mbatha, Khwezi Mona. Replacements: Dan Jooste, Dian Bleuler, Blaine Golden, Le Roux Roets, Nick Hatton, Mthokozisi Mkhabela, Tito Bonilla, Ethan Fisher.

So what to do about Markram? 0

Posted on March 31, 2022 by Ken

So what to do about Aiden Markram remains the big question for the Proteas to sort out despite the talented batsman’s return to form (almost) in scoring 42 in the first innings of the second Test against New Zealand in Christchurch.

While 42 is a big enough score to generally get one’s name in the scores in brief of leading cricket publications, it is also the sort of so-so score that does not really answer any questions, especially when it comes after your 10 previous innings have only realised 97 runs.

Markram should get one more innings at the Hagley Oval, one last chance to ram home his case, but then the Proteas return to South Africa and will begin preparations for their series against Bangladesh, which includes two Tests in April.

Keegan Petersen should be available again after his positive Covid test stopped him travelling, and he was man of the series against India so he should come straight back into the team. And Sarel Erwee made his mark in just his second Test by scoring a great century on the first day of the second Test, so he surely can’t be dropped.

Of course, if Markram goes on to score big runs in the second innings then it could become very awkward for the selectors. Or the Proteas could go back to the far-from-ideal days when they had seven batsmen and just four bowlers.

Of course having to fit too many batsmen into too few places is a very nice problem to have for any team.

After having exploded on to the international stage with 1000 runs in his first 10 Tests in 2017/18, including two centuries against Australia, very few would have predicted that by 2022 Markram would be at a crossroads in his Test career, playing for his future.

But having struggled against spin on the subcontinent, scoring just 84 runs in eight innings in India and Sri Lanka, seam bowlers now seem to have the wood on Markram as well.

Part of the problem would seem to be that the 27-year-old is a victim of his own tremendous talent. He is such a wonderful stroke-player, but one gets the impression sometimes that he is a bit too keen to feel bat on ball.

That was certainly the case in the first innings of the second Test. Having fought hard to get in on a Hagley Oval pitch that was still providing the pacemen with some assistance, Markram was looking set for the type of big score that he is desperate to get behind his name as he went from 17 off 69 deliveries shortly after tea to 42 off 103 balls.

The boundaries were coming and Markram looked to be in firm control of proceedings. And then he contrived to edge a wide half-volley from Neil Wagner into the slips.

New Zealand then managed to get through Erwee’s defences in the next over, but the left-hander’s 108 had brought some much-needed solidity to the top-order and carried the Proteas to a dominant position.

It was an innings of enormous maturity and composure by Erwee. There were shots, like the cover-drive, that he refused to visit until he had been at the crease for over an hour. New Zealand’s probing bowling also took him to some dark places, especially as he neared his maiden Test century before tea.

But the 32-year-old rode the ebbs and flows of his innings superbly. He stuck to his determined game-plan of playing as straight as possible and leaving well.

Astute shot-selection was the hallmark of Erwee’s innings. It is a quality Markram needs to revisit, post-haste, if he is to continue his Test career.

The Europeans are missing, but the SA Open remains the biggest event, the young & old agree 0

Posted on January 06, 2022 by Ken

The Europeans may be largely missing but it does not detract from the tournament as the South African Open remains the biggest event of the year for local golfers, both the young and the old agreed at the Gary Player Country Club on Wednesday.

The hysterical reaction to the Omicron variant has ensured the 111th SA Open (the second oldest national open in golf) is no longer the second event of the new DP World Tour but is just a Sunshine Tour tournament. But the 156-man field will have as much focus on the famous trophy though as the $500 000 prize fund when they tee off on Thursday.

The flagship event remains one of the most cherished weeks in South African golf and being played at the Gary Player Country Club course at Sun City, the host of the Nedbank Golf Challenge that has provided so many historic moments, but has sadly been unable to be held during these times of Covid.

GolfRSA and the South African Golf Association are the custodians of the SA Open and there is always a strong amateur contingent at the event, aiming for the Freddie Tait Cup for the best-placed amateur who makes the cut.

Christiaan Maas is the reigning SA Amateur champion and No.1 in the rankings, and he said the anticipation building into the tournament has been huge.

“It’s such a big tournament and I’ve been looking forward to it since last year after winning the SA Amateur. This week is a very big thing for me because this is the biggest tournament in South Africa,” the 18-year-old Maas said on Wednesday.

At the other end of the scale, James Kingston is a former SA Open champion, having won at Pearl Valley in 2007. Having turned 56 this week, he is delighted to be mixing it with the youngsters once again.

“The thrill of playing in the SA Open never wears off, it is the most treasured event in South African golf. I’m sure it’s the same with other countries and their national open,” Kingston said.

“This is the most sought after title in South African golf and to be able to come to Sun City, having won the tournament before, means the world to me,” Kingston said.

The Gary Player Country Club has been craftily designed to be the ultimate test of stamina, skill and accuracy though, and merely straying into the rough can be devastating. The lengthy 7105m course has caused the cremation of many a top golfer’s hopes.

Long hitters like Shaun Norris, Wilco Nienaber, defending champion Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Danie van Tonder could be favoured, but don’t discount the skilful golfers like Garrick Higgo, Dylan Frittelli or Justin Harding, or those in hot form like Joburg Open winner Thriston Lawrence, European Tour star Dean Burmester or JC Ritchie.

Despite encouraging 1st half, energy reserves depleted & Rassie concerned with Bok player management 0

Posted on August 03, 2021 by Ken

Despite a highly-encouraging first-half display by the SA A team before they understandably depleted their energy reserves, Springbok director of rugby Rassie Erasmus said he remains concerned about how he is going to manage his squad ahead of the first Test against the British and Irish Lions on July 24.

The SA A team raced into a 17-3 lead in the first half against the Lions at Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday night, but the second half saw them desperately clinging on in defence, eventually securing a 17-13 win. Getting the match fitness up and dealing with the numerous Covid cases within the squad will continue to require a delicate juggling act by Erasmus and head coach Jacques Nienaber, who is now out of quarantine and will retake the onfield reins.

“The guys put their hands up and showed their guts, and we do have a lot of players to come back into the mix. But there are guys I’m worried about – Malherbe, Mbonambi, De Jager, Snyman, Kolisi, Vermeulen, Pollard, Mapimpi and Frans Steyn – it’s about how we reintegrate those Covid cases because they are coming back in dribs and drabs as they get released from quarantine.

“So I’m 70-80% happy with the squad, but the other 20-30% are going to need really good management. We have two options to play on Saturday: the Bulls have gone into quarantine for us as back-up, but if there are cases in the Stormers camp then it would be safest for us to play the Lions again. If we don’t play them again, it definitely won’t be because they are afraid, it will because of their plans for the tour. It won’t be because we’re more physical than them,” Erasmus chirped.

As heartening as the SA A team’s display was, since it was basically a shadow Test team if all the players Erasmus mentioned don’t make it back for the first Test, the World Cup winning coach knows that courage and determination will only win the silverware if they are reflected on the scoreboard.

“We don’t want to run away with our emotions. We knew we would run out of steam and that made the match tighter in the end, but we played with a lot of heart. I’m proud of that, but we won’t win the series on that alone. There are a lot of technical and tactical things we need to get right,” Erasmus 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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