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Ken Borland

Sharks reserves don’t like water; sink without trace v Cardiff 0

Posted on February 28, 2023 by Ken

The Sharks’ reserve depth showed that they do not like water and sank without a trace, a naïve and lacklustre effort in the rain seeing them being hammered 35-0 by Cardiff in their United Rugby Championship match at Kings Park on Sunday night.

The Sharks had already made a sloppy start to the match as they conceded a breakdown penalty soon after the kickoff, slotted by flyhalf Jarrod Evans, when heavy rain arrived at the stadium and the home side’s hopes were seemingly washed away from that point.

Even though Cardiff suffered a yellow card to captain and flank Josh Turnbull for head contact with fullback Anthony Volmink – who must surely have suffered a concussion given what an absolute shocker he had thereafter – the Sharks could make no headway as they forced passes in the wet, giving away possession, and also tried to run the ball out of their own territory.

Cardiff’s other flank, Thomas Young, had a rampaging game and he earned the penalty try that gave the Welshmen a 13-0 lead after 26 minutes. Picking up a ball spilt at a ruck, he broke clear and kicked ahead, but wing Marnus Potgieter was winning the race to the ball in the in-goal area. But Potgieter deliberately slapped the ball over the dead-ball line, instead of trying to ground it, the referee awarding a penalty try and also issuing a yellow card.

Two glaring errors by Volmink in his own 22 then gifted Evans with his third penalty and Young with his second try, on the halftime whistle, as the fullback simply dropped the ball five metres from his own line.

In conditions that were tailor-made for the visitors from a UK city that is often wet, Cardiff stretched their halftime lead from 23-0 to 35-0 up with two more tries in the third quarter. Young scored from a maul as the Sharks conceded back-to-back penalties, and another rampaging run by the son of former Wales prop Dai Young provided front-foot ball deep in the 22, Evans producing a lovely delayed pass that sent fullback Ben Thomas over for the try.

The Sharks did rouse themselves a bit at the tail-end of the game, but they failed to break their duck due to their own inaccuracies, especially at the breakdown, or a TMO who definitely seemed to be looking for reasons to penalise them. They did have a try disallowed due to an intervention by TMO Eoghan Cross after the conversion had already been taken, and he also interrupted other promising Sharks positions.


CardiffTries: Penalty try, Thomas Young (2), Ben Thomas. Conversions: Jarrod Evans (2). Penalties: Evans (3).

Jake quick to point out inexperience of Bulls & impressed they managed to pull win out of the fire 0

Posted on November 16, 2022 by Ken

Bulls coach Jake White was quick to point out the relative inexperience of his side compared to Edinburgh and how impressed he was that they managed to pull a 33-31 victory out of the fire in their United Rugby Championship match at Loftus Versfeld, while acknowledging that they are still not where they want to be in terms of performance.

Edinburgh, disrupted by the loss of flyhalf Blair Kinghorn due to a stomach bug on the day of the game, and then his replacement Jaco van der Walt after 15 minutes, as well as substitute back Chris Dean injuring himself in the warm-up, made an error-strewn start to the game that included their captain Grant Gilchrist being yellow-carded.

The Bulls capitalised superbly and raced into a 15-0 lead, but Edinburgh were quick to show their quality and strike back once they had settled. They trailed by just one point at halftime and then led 31-30 going into the last 10 minutes.

Morne Steyn would be the hero for the Bulls with a tricky 78th-minute penalty, although Edinburgh fullback Henry Immelman missed a long-range effort after the final hooter.

“The margins are very small in this competition and that last kick was worth three points on the log,” a relieved White said. “You can’t underestimate how tough Edinburgh are.

“We need to be mindful that in their pack, they have players with more Test caps than we have URC caps. We have one of the youngest teams in the URC.

“We got ourselves 15-0 up, scoring relatively easily, and they’re only human, they maybe thought it would just happen on its own. But you’ve got to work very hard.

“We are far from where we need to be, but to show that composure, to not just accept that maybe it wasn’t our day, that’s a massive confidence boost. I’m very glad we managed to do enough to win,” White said.

The Bulls car ran beautifully smoothly at times, but at other times it spluttered along, leading to a dingdong match that was like a rush-hour taxi ride through central Joburg.

“At times we were outstanding, we would defend for three or four sets and then suddenly miss a tackle,” White admitted. “Or we would keep ball for phase-after-phase, and then give a poor pass or get our timing wrong.

“But we are a young team and we mustn’t get ahead of ourselves. It will do them good to learn and experience this pressure,” White said.

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