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Ken Borland



Springbok quartet no longer waiting in the aisles as Powell brings them all back 0

Posted on September 14, 2023 by Ken

Springboks Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi, Eben Etzebeth and Siya Kolisi were waiting in the aisles last weekend, but Sharks director of rugby Neil Powell has brought them all back into the starting XV for Saturday’s United Rugby Championship match against the Bulls at Kings Park as he dares not allow any complacency to creep into his high-flying side.

The Sharks have won four games on the trot across the two European competitions and they face a fired up Bulls side that are coming off a fiercely-contested loss to the Stormers last weekend. Inconsistency has bedevilled the Sharks in the past, and Powell is eager to ensure there is no slip in intensity on Saturday.

“It’s always good to be able to select your best players against the Bulls, who are coming to our house and always bring a big physical challenge, but on Saturday they will bring a bit more because of that loss,” Powell said on Friday.

“They saved their players from the Champions Cup to target these games, so last weekend’s loss will definitely hurt and they will bring a lot of effort and physicality to get at least one win from these games.

“We’re obviously aware of it, and it’s a really good opportunity for us to still build momentum and cohesion. We would like to be more clinical and we know a quality team like the Bulls only gives you so many opportunities.

“It’s mid-season and we feel like we’re moving in the right direction. There’s still a lot we can do better and we want to build on last week’s performance against the Lions.

“We want to take the opportunities that weren’t taken and if we can play with that flow then that will be great. But there’s an awareness of complacency and we can’t let successive wins breed that.

“We can’t just rock up and think things will happen. We need to really get stuck in and make sure we do our various roles,” Powell said.

Nche, Mbonambi and Thomas du Toit combine as an all-Springbok front row, while Kolisi will be joined in the loose trio by Henco Venter and Sikhumbuzo Notshe.

Grant Williams will continue as the starting scrumhalf, with Curwin Bosch going well at flyhalf.

“It’s good to see Curwin slowly but surely getting back to his best form. Credit to the coaches because in pre-season he was in really good form but then unfortunately got injured.

“But the coaches have all been very positive about him. There’s still room for improvement and we will keep chipping away,” Powell said.

Sharks Boeta Chamberlain, Marnus Potgieter, Lukhanyo Am, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Makazole Mapimpi, Curwin Bosch, Grant Williams, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Henco Venter, Siya Kolisi (c), Gerbrandt Grobler, Eben Etzebeth, Thomas du Toit, Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche. Bench: Kerron van Vuuren, Dian Bleuler, Carlu Sadie, Hyron Andrews, Phepsi Buthelezi, Jaden Hendrikse, Lionel Cronje, Yaw Penxe.

Highs & lows of 2022: The shock wins & humiliating defeats 0

Posted on August 29, 2023 by Ken

Highs

  • The Bulls pulling off a shock victory over Leinster in the 2021/22 United Rugby Championship semi-final in Dublin, overcoming the daunting challenge against the giants of European rugby, laden with Irish internationals. The Bulls produced an inspired performance to stun the juggernauts 27-26, ensuring Leinster went trophyless for the first time since 2017. It was a mighty display of physicality and fierce defensive effort.
  • The Proteas sealing a memorable series win over India, their superb pace attack revelling at home and their batsmen showing impressive toughness against a feisty bowling line-up. Despite their greatness as a cricketing nation, India have never won a Test series in South Africa, and the Proteas had to win the last two Tests to maintain that record. It was an exceptional achievement against the powerhouse Indian team, especially since South Africa produced two top-class fourth-innings chases to secure the thrilling win.
  • The South African men’s hockey team had to deal with many frustrations in 2022, as usual, so roaring to victory in the FIH Nations Cup in Potchefstroom, despite the resignation of coach Garreth Ewing on the eve of the tournament, was a remarkable effort. Victory over Ireland in the final meant South Africa grabbed the single qualification spot for the 2023/24 FIH Pro League, where they will compete on a regular basis with top teams like Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands and India. One can only praise interim coach Cheslin Gie and his charges.

Lows

  • South Africa have kissed many toads when it comes to cricket world cups but this year’s defeat to minnows the Netherlands and subsequent exit from the T20 World Cup at the group stage might be the worst blow-out of them all. Despite a washout against Zimbabwe, everything was going swimmingly as the Proteas needed to win just one of their last two matches, against Pakistan and the Netherlands, to reach the semi-finals. A desperate Pakistan side put up a stout effort to beat South Africa by 33 runs, but the Proteas looked astonishingly short of energy in the crunch match against the Dutch. A lacklustre bowling effort was followed by a miserable batting performance as they limped to 145 for eight and a humiliating defeat.
  • The sheer greed exposed by the breakaway LIV Golf Tour. One would think the world’s leading golfers have enough fancy motor cars, luxurious villas and lavish luxury goods, but apparently not.
  • Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber’s decision to not use the services of his first-choice team for the Rugby Championship Test against New Zealand at Ellis Park. After South Africa’s magnificent victory in Nelspruit (one of the highlights of the year), the All Blacks were hanging by a prayer, their coach Ian Foster and their captain Sam Cane being on the verge of being axed one year out from the World Cup. But instead of ruthlessly finishing off the job against their old rivals the following weekend, Nienaber took the foot off their neck by leaving key players on the bench at Ellis Park, resulting in an impressive 35-23 triumph for New Zealand, on their way to winning the tournament.

Keeping their fine Champions Cup form going is the Sharks’ goal 0

Posted on June 26, 2023 by Ken

Keeping the momentum of their fine Champions Cup form going is the goal of the Sharks on Friday night as they tackle the Lions in a United Rugby Championship match at Kings Park, but whether they can do that having rested a few key Springboks will be the question on coach Neil Powell’s mind.

Having been instrumental in the impressive wins over Harlequins and then Bordeaux-Begles in France, Springboks Eben Etzebeth, Bongi Mbonambi and Ntuthuko Mchunu have all been rested this weekend, while Siya Kolisi, Jaden Hendrikse, Gerbrandt Grobler and Ben Tapuai will play off the bench.

“We’ve had two good EPCR games and we would love to keep the momentum going,” Powell said on Thursday. “So we will keep going with continuity in selection as well.

“We always want to do well, no matter which competition it is, but every home game is especially important. It’s obviously going to be a physical battle looking at the forwards the Lions have selected.

“So we obviously have to match that and we’ve selected a team that will give us the best energy. Some of the changes are part of our rotational policy, maybe giving guys a break.

“The number of game minutes that Siya and Eben have had, not just for the Sharks but the Springboks too, means it is crucially important to manage them well. This was an opportunity for a bit of a break,” Powell said.

Apart from the actual game time, the Sharks have also had a punishing schedule of short weeks and overseas travel, which is a major concern and they will be relying on Alan Temple-Jones being a real conditioning guru to ensure the players can still perform at peak levels.

“The travelling has been tough,” Powell admitted. “We played Friday to Friday and then we only flew back from France on Sunday. So this is a short week again, it makes it difficult.

“The Lions have not done a lot of travel, so we felt the guys coming in for us could bring some extra energy. We have a block of 11 consecutive weeks of games and we are only on game five now.”

Jake has 1st-choice Bulls but says Stormers minus 3 Boks are still favourites 0

Posted on June 26, 2023 by Ken

Jake White may have his first-choice Bulls side back against a Stormers team that is missing a trio of injured Springboks, but he still said the home team will be the favourites in their United Rugby Championship derby in Cape Town on Friday night.

The Stormers will be without Evan Roos, their talismanic eighthman, exciting young lock Salmaan Moerat and experienced scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies, while White on Thursday named a Bulls team with nine Springboks in the starting line-up and two more on the bench.

But White said he did not read too much into who the Stormers are missing.

“I don’t think it’s a weaker Stormers team, nothing has changed. Our team is still young and in evolution, we’re still where we were last year – we’re developing,” White said.

“I like to think we’re playing better rugby than last year because of the added experience, but we are still a young team building together. We’ve not suddenly become a powerhouse senior team.

“If you look at the Stormers tight five, they are each a couple of years older than ours when you look man-for-man. And John Dobson has been coaching them for a long time.

“So I think they’re favourites. But it’s fantastic that the North/South derby has its aura back, the challenge is healthy and hopefully we do the rivalry justice,” White said.

Things have switched around dramatically from the old rendition of the derby when “10-man” Northern Transvaal relied on a robust, hardcore pack and Western Province, who had a ruthless backline, almost had a bounty out on flyhalf Naas Botha.

Now it is the Stormers who have the grizzled old hard men up front and the Bulls who have the exciting runners in the backs. Although the intensity of this derby could be like a Test match, White said he was hopeful there would still be bountiful space for his dashers.

“I like to believe there will still be space for them. These are good players who have opened up holes in Test rugby. I’m very proud of the good attacking backs we have, Chris Rossouw has worked really hard with them and we’ve had three guys called up for national duty this year, so I guess it is a bit like an old Western Province backline.

“We’ll need to be accurate when we have the ball and score some tries, because we’re not going to win by just keeping them out of our 22.

“But we do also have to be good enough not to give them entries into our 22 because I don’t see them going away from scrumming for penalties, kicking to the corner and then mauling for tries,” White said.

Bulls:Kurt-Lee Arendse, Cornal Hendricks, Lionel Mapoe, Harold Vorster, Canan Moodie, Johan Goosen, Embrose Papier, Elrigh Louw, Cyle Brink, Marco Van Staden, Ruan Nortje (c), Ruan Vermaak, Mornay Smith, Johan Grobbelaar, Gerhard Steenekamp. Bench -Bismarck du Plessis, Simphiwe Matanzima, Sebastian Lombard, Janko Swanepoel, Nizaam Carr, Zak Burger, Chris Smit, Stravino Jacobs.

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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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