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Ken Borland

Sharks have won both tour matches, but not peacefully secured 0

Posted on December 06, 2022 by Ken

The Sharks have won both of their United Rugby Championship matches on tour thus far, but it’s not as if they have peacefully gone about securing that unbeaten record.

They had to withstand a fierce second-half comeback from Zebre in Parma, eventually holding on 42-37, and last weekend they mounted the last-ditch effort, snatching a 20-19 win over the Dragons in Newport. In both cases they were fortunate to win.

And now they come up against Leinster, seemingly in turmoil if you believe some critics, and yet top of the log with three straight wins.

“Leinster have won three out of three and yet everyone says they’re not playing well,” former Scotland stalwart John Barclay said speaking at a media call for the Vodacom United Rugby Championship on Tuesday.

“Their big guns have not come back yet and I’m sure they’ll be happy to have 14 points, they don’t want to play their best game in September. They are too well-versed in how to manage their squad to do that.

“They are super-experienced, they have the best of the best in their squad. They will be hugely disappointed in what happened last season, but you criticise them at your own peril,” Barclay said.

The Sharks, meanwhile, will look to emulate the Bulls, who were also written off when travelling to Dublin to play Leinster in last season’s semifinal, but they burst the multiple champions’ bubble, took away some of their mystique.

“They will have their internationals, but we really back ourselves. We want to play their best team, although it is obviously going to be a massive challenge on Saturday,” eighthman Phepsi Buthelezi said.

“It doesn’t really affect us not having our Springboks because there is so much depth in our squad, any team we put out can go and compete. What the Bulls did certainly gives us a lot of confidence.

“We know what we can achieve, we know our potential and we’re not even close to that yet. We just need to go out and execute our game-plan, we really do believe we have everything we need to not just win this game, but the whole competition,” Buthelezi said.

The Sharks’ grand plan revolves around contestable kicking to manage territory and lineout mauls, but also counter-attacking off turnover ball with mobility, tempo and keeping ball-in-hand. The make-up of their loose trio reflects this, but perhaps what they miss is a real motherbuffer who does the dirty grunt work.

Sharks legend John Smit recognises the selection conundrum.

“I quite like James Venter and Dylan Richardson attacking the ball, making the breakdown a mess and making life difficult for the opposition, but they do lack a ball-carrier, which puts more pressure on Phepsi.

“They will get Siya Kolisi back, but they tend to use him out wide, using his offloads. But the Sharks were not able to get the ball wide enough last season.

“It’s about what sort of game they want to play, and they’ve got Rohan Janse van Rensbirg and Ben Tapuai, two No.12s at centre, so there’s a lot more focus on them carrying,” Smit said.

A divided house will never stand, but Proteas have proven their unity: Rassie 0

Posted on December 09, 2021 by Ken

A divided house will never stand and Proteas batsman Rassie van der Dussen said on Thursday that the determination and fight the team has shown in both their T20 World Cup matches thus far has proven the unity and dedication to their task within the team.

South Africa made a disastrous start to the tournament by losing three wickets in the first 25 balls of their match against Australia, but almost defended their mediocre total of 118-9 with a superb display in the field.

Before their second game against the West Indies, they were rocked by the CSA Board’s directive for them to take the knee in support of BLM and Quinton de Kock’s subsequent withdrawal from the match when they arrived at the ground. After a torrid first 10 overs, they fought to restrict the West Indies to 143-8, a total they chased down with aplomb.

“It was a big day for us with everything that had transpired before,” Van der Dussen said on Thursday. “We knew we had to get the win but the West Indies are always a massive threat especially when they also lost their first game.

“I was really proud of how the team stood up, proud of the spirit, we showed what we can do and that there’s real resilience and character in the team.

“The enormity of the occasion did not escape us and what happened almost made the result even more important. We wanted to make people proud and left everything on the field.

“We showed our tenacity, where our minds are at, and after a bad first half of the innings, we never threw in the towel. We had to dig deep and I’m proud of how we responded to all the things thrown at us,” Van der Dussen said.

Playing Sri Lanka in Sharjah on Saturday will be the biggest trial by spin the Proteas have faced up till now in the tournament, but Van der Dussen said they have trained for the occasion for more than a year now.

“Sharjah will probably suit Sri Lanka more than us, but we have shown that we have really improved in foreign conditions. The coaching staff started more than a year ago to put a lot of emphasis on upskilling us in conditions we didn’t grow up in.

“The way we approach spin has improved a lot. We have confidence because we know now we have the skill and the experience of winning matches in conditions like that,” Van der Dussen said.

With Rainbow Cup imminent, many youngsters giving up rentals spots in Bulls team 0

Posted on March 29, 2021 by Ken

With Bulls coach Jake White believing the start of the Rainbow Cup is imminent, many of the youngsters he has fielded thus far in the preparation series have given up their rentals spots in the team as the Currie Cup champions get ready to face the Stormers at Loftus Versfeld on Friday.

Springboks Trevor Nyakane, Marco van Staden, Cornal Hendricks and Morne Steyn all return to action, while regulars such as Ruan Nortje, Stedman Gans and Jacques van Rooyen have also been named in the 26-man squad as White starts to get his first-choice team up-and-running again ahead of European competition.

The Rainbow Cup is scheduled to run from April 17 to June 19 and will feature the Bulls, Stormers, Sharks and Lions playing in two pools of eight with Europe’s Pro12 teams. The regular Pro14 season is coming to an end with Leinster playing Munster in the final on March 27.

“If we work backwards from the British Lions tour and the Pro14 is now at the back end, then one month from now we will probably see the start of the Rainbow Cup. I think the Rainbow Cup is imminent and hopefully it all comes together for us in a month and, barring guys like Gio Aplon and Travis Ismaiel who have long-term injuries, we should have 90% of our squad fully match-fit.

“I want to see some of our youngsters with the stronger guys around them and a lot of thought has gone into the combinations. For instance, if we lose our Springboks then I need to know what our front row will look like. I’m happy with where we are, we have the best of both worlds with about 25 guys training with the conditioning staff and the youngsters playing every week,” White said on Thursday.

Friday’s match will also see Zak Burger get his first run-out with the Bulls and White said he had given the attacking former Griquas scrumhalf the same licence as a teenager at the sales with a gold card.

“I’m quite excited about seeing Zak. Whenever you play an opposition, you look at their threats and there’s no doubt whenever anyone played Griquas everybody was watching him. I’ve given him free rein, I expect him to make an impact because he’s very quick and he has a very good rugby brain. I’ve told him to have a go, be good at what’s he’s good at and not worry,” White said.

Bulls: Richard Kriel, Madosh Tambwe, Stedman Gans, Cornal Hendricks, Marco Jansen van Vuren, Chris Smith, Zak Burger, Nizaam Carr (c), Werner Gouws, Marco van Staden, Ruan Nortje, Janko Swanepoel, Trevor Nyakane, Joe van Zyl, Gerhard Steenekamp. Bench – Johan Grobbelaar, Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Jacques van Rooyen, Jan Uys, Tim Agaba, Keagan Johannes, Morné Steyn, Diego Appollis, Nolan Pienaar, Raynard Roets, Marnus Potgieter.

Markram & Elgar put on largest partnership of the match to wipe out deficit 0

Posted on March 11, 2021 by Ken

Test openers Aiden Markram and Dean Elgar put together the largest partnership of the match thus far and wiped out the first-innings deficit as they took the Titans to 162 without loss at stumps on the third day of their CSA 4-Day Domestic Series match at SuperSport Park on Tuesday.

It was a great effort by Markram, who went to 90 not out, a 191-ball innings filled with lovely strokes, especially drives, and Elgar, who was on 65 not out and showed his typical determination to blunt the bowlers. Their partnership meant the Titans will go into the final day with a lead of 11 runs and all 10 wickets intact.

That after they conceded a massive first-innings deficit of 151, things heading south for them badly in the hour before lunch as the Knights were able to declare on 414 for nine.

The visitors had resumed on 307 for six and the Titans again maintained a strong grip on proceedings with the ball in the first hour.

But veteran Protea Farhaan Behardien stayed cool as he fought his way to 142, a great knock against his former side in the clash between the competition’s two pool leaders.

It took a superb one-handed, diving catch by Titans skipper Grant Thomson, at backward square-leg, to eventually dismiss Behardien off the bowling of Lizaad Williams (30-2-103-4), but Shaun von Berg then stepped up.

Having weathered an early barrage from the Titans quicks, he showed great decision-making as he stuck around through the tough times with Behardien as they added 39 for the seventh wicket in 17.4 overs, and then attacked to score 58 not out.

Alfred Mothoa scored 18 as he helped Von Berg add 58 runs for the ninth wicket.

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    Philemon 1:7 – “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.”

    “Every disciple of Jesus has a capacity for love. The most effective way to serve the Master is to share his love with others. Love can comfort, save the lost, and offer hope to those who need it. It can break down barriers, build bridges, establish relationships and heal wounds.” – A Shelter From The Storm, Solly Ozrovech

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