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Ken Borland



Powell not happy with untidy 1st quarter, but Sharks immaculate thereafter 0

Posted on September 21, 2023 by Ken

Sharks director of rugby Neil Powell was not happy with an untidy first quarter from his team, but thereafter they were immaculate as they cleaned up the Bulls 47-20 in their United Rugby Championship derby at Kings Park at the weekend.

The Sharks were trailing 6-13 after 20 minutes, but then they focused themselves, they lifted the intensity of their game and they were ruthless in punishing the Bulls’ ill-discipline. By halftime they were leading 30-13.

“We hurt ourselves in the first 20 minutes, we weren’t clinical enough in our exits and we conceded silly penalties, we did some things that were out of character,” Powell said.

“But we definitely stepped things up in the last 10 minutes of the first half, we were more clinical and played in the right areas. A lot of credit must go to our forwards for the way they scrummed and mauled them.

“We could have managed the game better in the first quarter, but in the last 10 minutes of the first half we played really well. We don’t want to be predictable and we took quick-taps and played.

“It is a big win for us, if you look at the log, we needed those five points. This will go a long way for us and it’s especially important winning your home games,” Powell said.

While such a good win would certainly not have warranted the players copping a spray from their coach, Powell pointed out that the continued challenge for the Sharks is consistency – both within the game and from match-to-match.

“As the season goes on, hopefully we will perform like we did at the end of the first half for the whole 80 minutes. We’re trying to get consistent performance right through the 80 minutes,” he said.

One thing in common with all the local URC coaches is how they are painting a picture of how tough January is going to be, and Powell stressed the importance of player-management.

“It’s going to be very important to manage the squad so they are fresh for the knockouts at the end of the season. We will have to give players opportunity and squad rotation will be crucial.

“One player cannot play the whole 11 games in this block of fixtures,” Powell said.

Meant to be close derby at Kings Park, but Sharks blow Bulls away 0

Posted on September 20, 2023 by Ken

Given that the Bulls had won their last two matches against the Sharks and were fired up after their loss to the Stormers, it was meant to be a close United Rugby Championship derby at Kings Park on Saturday night, but the KwaZulu-Natalians produced a tremendously focused and intense performance as they blew the visitors away 47-20.

The opening quarter was tightly contested with Chris Smith and Curwin Bosch trading penalties, before the Bulls grabbed the opening try in the 19th minute. Impressive hands created space out wide for wing Canan Moodie, who regained his own chip ahead, albeit with a lucky bounce.

But then the Bulls found themselves in the eye of a storm, much of it of their own making as they were terribly ill-disciplined. Following a Bosch penalty, after prop Thomas du Toit won a turnover, that closed the gap to 9-13, the Sharks took a quick tap penalty and found space out wide, but Moodie knocked the final pass out into touch, leading to a yellow card and a penalty try.

The Sharks piled on the pressure and, with two minutes to go, flank Cyle Brink was also sent to the sin-bin after repeated Bulls’ infringements. A big Sharks scrum – an area where they held a great advantage – was followed by scrumhalf Grant Williams going one way and then the other and sniping over for the try.

By the time Bosch had converted – the resurgent flyhalf succeeded with eight of his nine kicks at goal – the halftime hooter was about to go, but referee Marius van der Westhuizen warned the Bulls twice that they could not kick the restart direct into touch.

Nevertheless, that is what Smith did and the Bulls paid a heavy price. The Sharks attacked from the scrum in the centre of the field, wing Kurt-Lee Arendse conceding a penalty for a deliberate knock-on, which allowed the Sharks into the 22. From there they earned another penalty, also kicked to touch, and a patient lineout maul saw hooker Bongi Mbonambi score. Having trailed by just three points two minutes before halftime, the Bulls were suddenly 13-30 down at the break.

The Sharks, confidence rampant, were on auto-pilot in the second half and they scored a superb try in the 51st minute to open the scoring after the break. Outside centre Lukhanyo Am popped an inside ball to wing Marnus Potgieter, who broke through before inside centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg’s quick hands sent the ball wide to fullback Boeta Chamberlain, who was stopped inside the 22 but produced a super offload for Janse van Rensburg to score.

The Bulls did respond with a fine try of their own, Moodie and Johan Goosen combining very well out wide for the fullback to score.

But the result was never in doubt as a Bosch penalty stretched the Sharks lead back to 40-20.

Moodie then ended up being red-carded, for a second yellow card, when he went fractionally high on a tackle on a dipping player. It was a harsh penalty when the Bulls wing did little wrong, and the officials ought to have paid more attention to the more dangerous neck-tackle on Arendse that followed. But because it happened later on in the same passage of play as Moodie’s small mistake, it was ignored.

The shellshocked Bulls then conceded another try after the final hooter when Janse van Rensburg snatched an intercept and dotted down under the poles.

The New Year’s celebrations at Kings Park will certainly be good.

Scorers

Sharks: Tries – Penalty try, Grant Williams, Bongi Mbonambi, Rohan Janse van Rensburg (2). Conversions – Curwin Bosch (4). Penalties – Bosch (4).

Bulls: Tries – Canan Moodie, Johan Goosen. Conversions – Chris Smith (2). Penalties – Smith (2).

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.

SA rugby forever bonded with Kitch’s ‘high or low road’, but Jake says it’s too early for that 0

Posted on September 05, 2023 by Ken

South African rugby will forever be bonded with Kitch Christie’s famous ‘high road or the low road’ scenario before the 1995 World Cup triumph, but Bulls coach Jake White says it is still too early to consider his team as being at a similar crossroads ahead of their crunch United Rugby Championship match against the Sharks in Durban on Saturday.

Coach Christie said it was crucial that the Springboks beat defending champions and favourites Australia in the opening match of the 1995 World Cup and take the “high road” through the tournament; defeat would mean the “low road” requiring victories over England and New Zealand before the final. South Africa pulled off a sensational 28-18 win, setting them up for an unbeaten run through the tournament they hosted.

The Bulls, having lost last weekend to the Stormers in Cape Town, are now five points behind the defending champions in the South African Shield, having played an extra game. If the Sharks beat the Bulls with a bonus point at Kings Park, then they could be within another bonus-point win of the Pretoria side, with a game in hand.

But White, who has called the late Christie his mentor, is not stressing about the log at this stage.

“We’re not at the high road or low road point yet and it’s not a do-or-die game,” White said on Friday. “It’s still so open, although we do know Leinster are the pace-setters, they always have been.

“We beat the Sharks with a bonus point at Loftus, and if the Sharks beat the Stormers twice and we win this weekend, then we would be favourites again to win the conference.

“There are still a lot of permutations between now and the end of the tournament, and not every team will win every game at home. Winning a couple of matches away is the premium.

“But we will be up against one of the strongest provincial sides, although one thing I enjoy about the URC is that a team can beat anyone on any given Saturday. That’s exciting,” White said.

Nine current Springboks is what the Bulls, who will field Johan Goosen at fullback and Chris Smith at flyhalf, are up against. The combination of Smith and Goosen played in the pivotal game-management positions when the Bulls beat the Sharks 40-27 at Loftus Versfeld at the end of October, which is why White has made that selection again.

“The last time we played the Sharks we did that and it worked well, and we didn’t have Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie then,” White said. “It means we have two kickers and two passers and can move the ball away from flyhalf.

“I’ve heard it might rain in Durban too and the Sharks don’t play much in their own half, they have a good kicking game and Makazole Mapimpi is very good in the air.

“But it’s not just a reaction to them, it worked for us at home and it gives us two guys who understand how we want to play. It’s important that Bernard van der Linde can also kick with both feet at scrumhalf,” White said.

Bulls:Johan Goosen, Canan Moodie, Cornal Hendricks, Harold Vorster, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Chris Smith, Bernard van der Linde, Elrigh Louw, Cyle Brink, Marco Van Staden, Ruan Nortje (c), Ruan Vermaak, Mornay Smith, Johan Grobbelaar, Simphiwe Matanzima. Bench -Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Gerhard Steenekamp, Sebastian Lombard, Janko Swanepoel, Nizaam Carr, Embrose Papier, Lionel Mapoe, David Kriel.

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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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