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Ken Borland

Lawrence loving the hearty challenge from Sordet 0

Posted on March 31, 2023 by Ken

Frenchman Clement Sordet provided a hearty challenge for leader Thriston Lawrence in the third round of the South African Open at Blair Atholl Golf and Equestrian Estate on Saturday, and the South African loved it, saying he was having the time of his life.

Lawrence began the third round with a two-shot lead over compatriot Ockie Strydom and was three ahead of Sordet. But the 26-year-old Lawrence had to produce an impressively mature five-under-par 67 on Saturday to maintain that lead as Sordet came charging with a brilliant 66.

Their contest was epitomised by the final hole as, with the sun setting over the Magaliesberg mountains, Sordet rolled in a 12-foot birdie putt to go to 16-under; moments later Lawrence nailed his 10-footer to close on 18-under-par.

“I’m definitely enjoying myself, when you’re playing well you have to,” Lawrence said. “I was very calm in the situations, even when you get a bit nervy and the adrenaline flows.

“From tee-to-green, I was hitting the ball awesome and then my putter just gave me that extra bit that made the difference. I was rolling the ball nicely, comfortable over the short ones and I managed to sink a few long ones which I had not been doing the last while.

“I’m having the time of my life and it will probably be a matchplay vibe between me and Clement in the final round, even though someone could come with a 10-under round,” Lawrence said.

Sordet, who is back on the DP World Tour after finishing 13th in the Challenge Tour last season, was also enjoying himself.

“It was a lot of fun, playing with really good guys in the last group. Thriston is a really good player, he played really well. We made a lot of birdies, all three of us.

“It’s going to be a challenge to catch Thriston tomorrow, but it’s great to be back in the final group, I’m looking forward to it on a course that suits my eye really well, I love it,” Sordet said.

Lawrence’s maturity was shown after he birdied three of his first five holes but then further gains were reduced to a dribble. A bogey on the par-four ninth, when he failed to get up-and-down from the greenside bunker, put him under pressure, but he stayed steady. His resolve was rewarded when he birdied the last two holes.

“It was tough because you feel the need to score. But I knew I was hitting the ball well, there were chances out there and I was putting well, so I just had to stay patient.

“It is tough but you have to keep telling yourself that it is just a matter of time,” Lawrence said.

Jens Fahrbring (69) of Sweden is the closest challenger to Lawrence and Sordet on 12-under.

It was a tough old day for Strydom, who birdied the last two holes to shoot 75, falling 10 shots off the pace, but Dean Burmester shot a 66 to keep his faint hopes alive on nine-under-par.

Everitt praises major impact of the bench 0

Posted on January 03, 2023 by Ken

Sharks coach Sean Everitt praised the major impact of the bench in their impressive 40-12 win over the Glasgow Warriors at Kings Park, saying it was exactly what he had hoped for when he loaded his replacements with a number of Springboks.

Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche, Siya Kolisi, Sikhumbuzo Notshe and Makazole Mapimpi were all substitutes against Glasgow, and it was no coincidence that the Sharks finished emphatically, turning a narrow 13-12 lead after 50 minutes into a crunching, bonus point win.

“I’m very happy, we knew it would be a difficult first half, but we showed a lot of power in the second half. The game opened up and we played well from turnover ball,” Everitt said.

“We managed to get our attack and defence together in the same game. The starting line-up did the hard yards and tired out the opposition, and then we had a big impact off the bench.”

Even Warriors coach Nigel Carolan admitted that they had been blown away in the second half.

“There was always going to be an onslaught, it was very difficult to handle that sort of power in the last 30 minutes. And because we did not have enough on the scoreboard to protect, we had to try and get on the front foot still,” Carolan said.

Debutant Eben Etzebeth was the obvious choice for the man of the match award, for the power of his carries, his domination of the lineouts and the offloading skills he showed in ensuring the continuity of attacks.

“Eben was immense in disrupting their lineout and the quality ball he and Hyron Andrews won at our lineout gave us a good foundation to attack,” Everitt said.

“He has fitted in really well, he had done his lineout homework thoroughly, he was outstanding in both attacking and defensive lineouts.

“There was also much to be admired in his all-round play, he certainly played like the best lock in the world,” Everitt said.

Leicestershire reignited Mulder’s love for cricket when he was at the point of saying goodbye 0

Posted on December 29, 2022 by Ken

Wiaan Mulder says he was almost at the point of saying goodbye to the game before a stellar season of county cricket with Leicestershire reignited his love for the sport, and now he is eager just to get out on to the field as often as possible for the Central Gauteng Lions and the Durban Super Giants.

In and out of the national squad, and more often than not touring without getting regular game-time, Mulder says his focus is no longer on proving anything to the national selectors. The 24-year-old is considered one of South Africa’s brightest all-round talents, and was first picked for the Proteas five years ago. Former national coach Ottis Gibson was much enamoured by his skills, but Mulder was arguably thrown into the deep end too soon, and his talent was almost wasted.

“I’ve travelled a lot with the Proteas without really playing, whether in red-ball or white-ball cricket,” Mulder told The Citizen. “I just never had a full run, it’s difficult playing a Test or an ODI here or there.

“At international level, you’re always competing against very good players and sometimes you don’t get as many chances as you want. You have to take what comes and you don’t play for two months and then you’re playing for your life.

“I hadn’t been enjoying my cricket for a long time, and signing with Leicestershire, my goal was to find my love for the game again, it was a great opportunity, with the freedom to just be myself.

“I almost called it quits on my career, but I’ve come a long way since then and I really want to thank Leicestershire for the belief they showed in me, which pushed me through. I think my happiness showed in my performances,” Mulder said.

The St Stithians product was named Leicestershire’s players’ player of the year and was also the fans’ favourite after a brilliant season with both bat and ball in all formats.

Durban Super Giants also gave his ability in the shortest format a big vote of confidence when they bought him for R1.9 million in the SA20 Auction.

Mulder will return to action next week as part of a strong Lions outfit in the CSA T20 Challenge, and he says the ball is coming nicely out of the hand and he is hitting it sweet with the bat as well.

“I’m quite confident, I had a really nice run with Leicestershire in the T20s and in the Lions’ warm-ups, I executed my skills well. But form is temporary, we know how it works in cricket, you never know how it’s going to go.

“But I’m trying to shift my mindset away from worrying about form and just trying to give as much as I can to whatever team I’m playing for.

“As a batsman, I’m no Kieron Pollard, but I can find a way to score boundaries and have a decent strike-rate. I’ve worked hard on my boundary hitting, for when conditions and the situation are compatible.

“I was batting at five for Leicestershire and the more time I have, the better I play. Often I would go in in the powerplay. I would love to be able to play like Rassie van der Dussen, who is so consistent, he always gives himself a chance, but can also hit his first ball for six if that’s what the team needs,” Mulder said.

Time for the Springboks to ‘ruk reg!’ 0

Posted on October 18, 2022 by Ken

There is a wonderful saying in Afrikaans that is often used on the recalcitrant or the idle: they are told to ‘ruk julle reg!’.

It can be roughly translated as meaning ‘Shape up or ship out’ and fans watching the slide of the Springbok team towards mediocrity will no doubt be using it ahead of South Africa’s Rugby Championship match against Australia in Sydney on Saturday.

While the wretched display in Adelaide last weekend means the players desperately need to take a big step up in terms of executing basic skills and decision-making, it is also the management who need to up their game and thereby elevate the standard of rugby the Springboks are producing on the pitch.

While there are critics who say they rick their necks watching the Springboks kick the ball sky-high all game, or fall asleep while watching them scrum or maul for penalties, these are valid tactics. But they should be used as a means to an end, and not an end in themselves.

Much as coach Jacques Nienaber may hate it, penalties are only worth three points and tries are worth five, seven if converted. Which is why Australia, despite conceding 16 penalties against just nine given away by South Africa, won comfortably last weekend, scoring three tries to two.

And it’s not as if these Springboks can’t play attacking rugby or can’t score tries. It’s just that they hide that ability away behind an ultra-conservative game-plan that puts so much emphasis on the build-up and the process that there is very little room for the sort of instinctive, opportunistic rugby that can actually create tries against a defence that is as good as the Wallabies’ shifting line was last weekend.

While it is scary to go into a Test in Sydney without such key injured players as Lukhanyo Am, Handre Pollard, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Elton Jantjies, I am actually excited to see how their replacements go.

Damian Willemse was so positive with ball-in-hand last weekend, but his team-mates were often on a different wavelength. Let’s hope he can bring control and direction to the game at flyhalf, as well as some of that offensive brilliance.

Jesse Kriel will be chomping at the bit to start at outside centre again, while Canan Moodie’s Test debut is a dream story for someone who wasn’t even in the Bulls’ URC squad at the start of last season.

What was especially disappointing last weekend was the number of Springbok attacks that ran aground on the Great Barrier that was Australia’s defensive reef, mostly due to poor execution or naïve strategies.

Better attacking plans need to be put in place in order to fully utilise the talent in this Springbok side. The Wallabies’ slingshot defence is well-known, they give teams space on the outside and usher them into touch, so it was especially disappointing to see the Springboks crabbing across the field like they did when Du Toit passed into touch. At the start of the move, from turnover ball, there had been a clear overlap.

An excellent show to watch when it comes to dissecting the Springboks’ performances is Owen Nkumane’s Final Whistle. Both Swys de Bruin and Nick Mallett, two great attacking coaches of previous South African teams, were in agreement that the current side’s offensive efforts have not passed muster.

Mostly because they seem to be waiting for the perfect moment to attack, instead of trying to engineer those opportunities with more ambitious play. So many chances were not used in the 22 perhaps because the players are not in a suitably positive, attacking mindset?

Beating the Wallabies in Australia has always been a torrid Test for the Springboks, and now they need to do it under pressure and with key injuries. They will need to show massive character.

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