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Ken Borland



Disappointing results are not main reason for Jake changing half the Bulls’ starting line-up 0

Posted on January 09, 2023 by Ken

The Bulls will be eager to stop their slide down the United Rugby Championship table before the end of October when the competition takes a break, but disappointing results are not the main reason coach Jake White has changed half his starting line-up for their match against Benetton in Treviso on Friday night.

Having been knocked over and physically dominated by the Glasgow Warriors and Munster on successive weekends, the Bulls are now down to sixth on the log. Benetton will definitely be tricky to beat on their home turf, and the high-flying Sharks then come to Loftus Versfeld on October 30.

“It’s not just results that decide selection, I would have changed the team anyway this week,” White said on Thursday. “Every coach has an idea of a certain team he wants to play against certain opposition.

“But then the whole thing changes with injury and I didn’t think I would not have Johan Goosen or Cornal Hendricks. But it’s a long season and the European competition hasn’t even kicked off yet.

“Benetton rested a lot of their main players last week, we know they have targeted this game and everyone understands how tough it will be. It shouldn’t be an ambush here anymore.

“We have not gone from a good team to a poor one overnight, and this is a massive game for us because an away win is like gold. No-one must think we’re going through the motions,” White said.

The ever-improving Benetton side is certainly not going to stand back for anyone on their home ground anymore, and the Bulls can expect a feisty welcome up front, led by loose forward Lorenzo Cannone and his brother, lock Niccolò. Benetton still talk about their famous victory over the Bulls in the Rainbow Cup final last year, when White’s team, rampant at home, were shocked by the intensity of their hosts.

“I hope we are not surprised again. There will be unbelievable passion in the crowd and we are coming from rain and cold every day in Scotland and Ireland to warm weather and sunshine,” White said.

“Benetton still talk a lot about beating us in that final, and that was an opportunity for us to learn some lessons. I hope we are wise enough that we don’t get caught again.

“They are a good team, well-coached, while, for whatever reason, we have not played as well as we can. Sometimes it feels like we are stuck in third gear and we struggle to get into fifth.

“But our saving grace is that it is a long season and we only need to play our best rugby at the back end. But the challenge is for us to get better every week,” White said.

Bulls: Kurt-lee Arendse, David Kriel, Stedman Gans, Harold Vorster, Wandisile Simelane, Chris Smith, Embrose Papier, Elrigh Louw, Marco van Staden, Marcell Coetzee (CAPT), Ruan Nortje, Janko Swanepoel, Francois Klopper, Bismarck du Plessis, Gerhard Steenekamp. Bench – Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Simphiwe Matanzima, Mornay Smith, Walt Steenkamp, WJ Steenkamp, Zak Burger, Morne Steyn, Stravino Jacobs.

Kickoff: 6.30pm.

Bok pressure meant to create opportunities but apart from blood & guts, they could not offer enough 0

Posted on October 18, 2021 by Ken

Apart from blood, guts and glory, and enormous set-piece prowess, the Springboks could not bring enough to the table with ball in hand, leading to a gripping 19-17 defeat at the hands of the All Blacks in an epic 100th Test between the two great rivals at Townsville on Saturday.

The Springboks were superb in playing their trademark pressure game. The scrum was dominant and their lineout was majestic, reducing the All Blacks jumpers to just standing and watching. When New Zealand had the ball, they were harried and bashed by a feisty defence, with the Springboks also causing the Rugby Championship winners big problems at the breakdown as well.

But pressure is meant to create opportunities to score and, apart from four penalties by Handre Pollard and a gifted try to Sbu Nkosi after a dropped kick, South Africa did no show enough intent with ball-in-hand. In fact, on a couple of occasions they had front-foot ball, in control of the game, on the New Zealand 22, and they chose to turn possession into a 50/50 contest by launching bizarre up-and-unders.

The strategy of kicking everything away cost them in the end as, after Pollard had given them a 17-16 lead going into the last 10 minutes, a frazzled All Blacks side began to get desperate and coughed up more ball. Which the Springboks kicked straight back to them.

Eventually it was a brilliant angled, long-range penalty by fullback Jordie Barrett that snatched the spoils for New Zealand with just two minutes remaining.

The All Blacks started the match in chilling fashion as, with not much on for them in their own half, hooker Codie Taylor stepped superbly and burst clear and one pass later wing Will Jordan was racing over for the try.

But as much as they tried to up the tempo, speed the game up and stretch the defence, the Springboks managed to drag them back into slow-mo rugby through sheer bloodymindedness. Siya Kolisi was immense as a harrying presence and Kwagga Smith was tremendous at the breakdown.

The kicking game tested the wits of the All Blacks three and, apart from Barrett, they did not look secure. But the Springboks were not smart enough to then capitalise on the turnover balls presented.

Their supporters were left praising an incredibly brave, stout effort, but also mourning what should have been if they had just backed themselves with the ball-in-hand a little more.

Scorers

New ZealandTry: Will Jordan. Conversion: Jordie Barrett. Penalties: Barrett (4).

South AfricaTry: Sbu Nkosi. Penalties: Handre Pollard (4).

Good times to be a gambler 0

Posted on February 14, 2016 by Ken

 

Judging by South Africa’s performance in the World Cup quarterfinal against Sri Lanka this week, these are good times to be a gambler and, seeing as though I am at Sun City for the Chase to the Investec Cup final, I’m going to put R1000 each on three, four and eight at the roulette table tonight, in honour of JP Duminy’s three wickets in three balls, which meant the Proteas got away with only having four specialist bowlers, and Quinton de Kock coming good after previously averaging just eight in the tournament.

Okay, the bit about me gambling tonight is a joke because times are still tough for journos and instead I may treat myself to a lager and ponder over how good it felt to get my predictions for the quarterfinal against Sri Lanka so utterly wrong.

Coach Russell Domingo has never struck me as the gambling type, although he does have a profound love for figures, which is not to say he’s not willing to make tough decisions. He’s done that before and was even willing to leave the great Jacques Kallis out of limited-overs teams when he didn’t fit into the game-plan.

But as far as gambles go, taking on the strong Sri Lankan batting line-up on a flat Sydney Cricket Ground pitch with Duminy as the fifth bowler and AB de Villiers as the back-up ranks up there with the biggest in World Cup history, and, were it not for the brilliance of the pace bowlers and Imran Tahir in taking early wickets, it was a move that could have gone stupidly wrong.

But it worked, as did the faith shown in De Kock. As the confidence seeped back into the young left-hander, emboldened by the support of his management and team-mates, his talent and class was plain to see.

You would rightly expect South Africa to keep the same XI for Tuesday’s semi-final against the winner of today’s match between New Zealand and the West Indies, which means the pressure will once again be on the bowlers to reach the same heights they did in Sydney.

Apart from the pleasure of watching such a complete performance and celebrating South Africa’s first win in a World Cup knockout game, I really liked the send-off given to Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene.

Those two great batsmen have given South African bowlers a terrible time over the years but their strength of character, charm and integrity means they will be remembered as so much more than just prolific employees of Sri Lanka Cricket.

In my opinion, Sangakkara is one of the greatest batsmen to have played the game, in the same exalted realms of excellence as Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Brian Lara and Kallis.

The Proteas obviously hold him and Jayawardene in similarly high esteem judging by the genuine warmth they showed in farewelling them, and Sangakkara’s response when asked how he would like to be remembered speaks to the very essence of sport:

“If anyone can say they’ve enjoyed playing against me and playing with me, I’ll be more than happy.”

Cricket South Africa sent out a special tribute statement when Tendulkar retired; Sangakkara is surely deserving of the same honour?

 

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