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Ken Borland

Stransky: Flamboyant flyhalf who kicks with either foot v unassuming No.10, with weather to decide? 0

Posted on July 25, 2022 by Ken

A flamboyant flyhalf who can kick well with either foot versus an unassuming No.10 who makes few mistakes: This will be the matchup on Saturday in the United Rugby Championship final between the Stormers and Bulls, and Springbok legend Joel Stransky believes the weather in Cape Town could decide who comes away with the spoils.

Manie Libbok is the adventurous Stormers flyhalf who overcame a poor semi-final to throw the pass for the equalising try and then slotted the touchline conversion.

Chris Smith was his typically consistent self in the Bulls’ shock win over Leinster, bringing a maturity and calmness under pressure to the flyhalf position.

“Both flyhalves control the game well,” Stransky said on Tuesday, “but in very contrasting ways. What they both do very well is manage space.

“Chris is rock-solid, brings nothing special, no scintillating breaks, but he defends well, he’s a bit bigger, and he frees up the talent outside him. The Bulls have actually scored seven more tries than the Stormers.

“Chris kicks very well and he doesn’t make mistakes, which will be quite important if it is wet, because errors can cost you in a final. He could be the difference if there is parity up front.

“Manie kicks well with either foot, he runs well and defends his channel. That last pass over the top was because he is confident due to the faith put in him and the liberty he’s been given to play what’s in front of him,” Stransky, a celebrated flyhalf who scored all South Africa’s points in the 1995 World Cup final, said.

While Stransky, who brought an appealing mix of skilful kicking and exciting attacking play to the Springbok team, would love to see a dry evening in Cape Town on Saturday, the weather forecast does not look good and he believes rain will favour the Stormers.

“I hope rain does not put a dampener on the final. Rain would suit the Stormers with their big, strong front row and bench. The Bulls will have to move the ball around a bit because of the Stormers’ strong pack and midfield.

“But as much as we backs would like to think differently, the game will be won and lost up front. The scrum plays such a massive part and if it’s wet then you would expect more mistakes and more scrums.

“You would expect Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe to have a bit more dominance, so you have to look at the Stormers if it’s a tighter game.

“But if it’s looser, then the likes of Marcell Coetzee, Elrigh Louw and Arno Botha are more dynamic ball-carriers. The Stormers do have the outstanding Evan Roos, but Hacjivah Dayimani is not so much a hard carrier and Deon Fourie is a proper openside,” Stransky said.

Alsatians v Poodles as Bulls batter Sharks into submission 0

Posted on September 29, 2021 by Ken

They say it’s not the size of the dog in the fight that matters but the size of the fight in the dog, but the Currie Cup final was like Alsatians versus Poodles as the Bulls simply bullied and battered the Sharks into submission, winning 44-10, the biggest winning margin in the history of South Africa’s premier domestic final.

The Bulls only really bared their teeth in the second half, but their snarling, immense defence was the stand-out feature of the first half. Despite the Sharks dominating territory and possession, the Bulls scored tries on three of their four visits to the visitors’ 22, to enjoy a handsome 19-3 lead at halftime.

The tone was set for the first half from the outset as the Bulls received the kickoff and then had to defend for 12 phases before winning a turnover penalty. From the lineout, centre Harold Vorster burst straight through the midfield and dashed over for a try from 40 metres out.

The contrast in defences couldn’t have been more stark: The Bulls barely conceded an inch on the gainline, while the Sharks were ripped asunder from first phase with ease.

The Bulls’ second visit to the Sharks’ 22 came in the 23rd minute and this time Vorster was the provider with a lovely little pop-pass for his outside centre Lionel Mapoe to go slicing through for a try, again straight from a lineout.

The Sharks were eventually on the board after half-an-hour through a Curwin Bosch penalty, but it took 10 phases of attack that made very little headway, to get it. The Bulls quickly struck back with a try for captain Marcell Coetzee, bulldozing over from close range with fellow flank Arno Botha at his back.

The Bulls called their kicking game more into service in the second half and it brought good rewards for them as fullback David Kriel and wing Madosh Tambwe were outstanding in the air.

Lock Janko Swanepoel had ruled the lineouts with Ruan Nortje and he deservedly crashed over for a try, followed by a nifty snipe-and-score by scrumhalf Zak Burger.

By now the Sharks were creaking in all facets – their scrum was being dominated, their lineout was not working and it really seemed like men against boys.

Prop Thomas du Tot was gifted a try from a Bulls lineout that went astray, but the home side rightly had the final say and there was no more popular try-scorer than wing Cornal Hendricks. He kicked through after wing Thaakir Abrahams grubbered into Mapoe, regathering brilliantly and diving over for the sixth and final try.

The 34-point winning margin beat the previous record of 30 points set by their Northern Transvaal predecessors when they beat Western Province 39-9 at Loftus Versfeld in 1980.


BullsTries: Harold Vorster, Lionel Mapoe, Marcell Coetzee, Janko Swanepoel, Zak Burger, Cornal Hendricks. Conversions: Chris Smith (4). Penalties: Smith (2).

SharksTry: Thomas du Toit. Conversion: Curwin Bosch. Penalty: Bosch.

Key battles in the second Rugby Championship Test between the Springboks & Argentina in PE on Saturday 0

Posted on September 03, 2021 by Ken

Key battles in the second Rugby Championship Test between the Springboks & Argentina in PE on Saturday

The midfield battle

While Argentina coach Mario Ledesma has made eight changes to his starting line-up, the midfield of Jeronimo de la Fuente and Santiago Chocobares are not the ones footing the blame for last weekend’s loss as they have been retained. The Pumas dropped the ball – both literally and figuratively – a few times on attack in that 32-12 defeat and they will be under even more pressure to stick to their game-plan on Saturday as they come up against Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am. That duo were a major part of the success against the British and Irish Lions and, after a week’s break, they are bound to pitch up at their best at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

The loose trios

Springbok eighthman Jasper Wiese will be looking for an encore after his man of the match display last weekend, and this time he has the indefatigable Franco Mostert and a fully fit Siya Kolisi (he was battling a stomach bug in the first game) alongside him. One can bet good money though that there will be a fiery response from the Argentina loose trio after they were so badly outplayed last weekend. Guido Petti, a tough, physical, powerful and experienced player has moved from lock to join Pablo Matera and Rodrigo Bruni in the back row.

Cheslin Kolbe & Makazole Mapimpi versus the defence

South Africa’s brilliant wingers have gobbled up tries quite relentlessly since being paired together. They are ruthless when it comes to spotting and exploiting the slightest opportunity. The Pumas cannot afford any signs of weakness out wide and they need to keep the defensive door firmly shut against the Springboks’ lethal marauders.

Trevor Nyakane versus Francisco Gomez Kodela

The grinning Limpopo powerhouse starts at loosehead prop at Saturday and watching him dismantle Argentina’s 36-year-old tighthead prop Francisco Gomez Kodela at the first scrum will be just the thing to get the gees going around the braai. Nyakane had the measure of the best scrummagers the British and Irish Lions could throw at him and South Africa’s set-piece dominance lays the platform for so much else of their pressure game. But Gomez Kodela is a very clever scrummager technically, and he will be looking to man up in his last game for Argentina before he returns to club duty with Olympique Lyon.

Van Zyl warns brilliant win over Sharks is worth nothing if Bulls don’t build on it 0

Posted on October 28, 2020 by Ken

Bulls scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl has warned that their brilliant victory over the Sharks is worth nothing unless they build on it and maintain that momentum in their huge games coming up against the Stormers in Pretoria on Saturday and versus the Lions at Ellis Park the following weekend.

Top spot on the log is their’s at the moment, but the Bulls will need to keep winning to hold off the thus far unbeaten Free State Cheetahs and Stormers, who have won both their matches, because Jake White’s team then have a bye.

“As a team we took a lot of confidence from the Sharks game and that performance couldn’t have come at a better time. Before that we had been a bit stop-start, we didn’t have much flow in our first two games. Every game is important but now it’s really important that we build on that display and move forward, otherwise that win won’t help us.

“We have a couple of massive games coming up, but at least we were more clinical at the right times, there was better decision-making and we identified space better. Better decisions lead to better play, and this time we rounded off our chances. Coach Jake is very good at making sure that it is all about getting the team to win and we all understand our roles every week,” Van Zyl said.

While the Bulls were much more accurate with ball in hand, and also off the boot, their defence was also highly impressive against the Sharks as they conceded just one try.

“We’re very happy with our defence and the combination of scoring six tries and just conceding one is massive for us. The more consistent we are in our defence, the more opportunities we’ll have to win, so it’s something we continue to work on and against the Stormers we’ll come up against different players with different skill-sets. But we take a lot of confidence from the defensive effort against the Sharks.

“Joey Mongalo has been great for us as defence coach, he has great energy and clearly loves what he does, he’s passionate about defence and that rubs off on the team. We are eager to get better every week. The basics of our defensive system haven’t changed that much, but there’s a new energy,” Van Zyl said.

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