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Ken Borland

Bulls listed in last 16 of Champions Cup after good win, but made life hard for themselves 0

Posted on January 21, 2024 by Ken

Bulls captain Marcell Coetzee carried strongly and scored two tries as his team overcame Bordeaux-Begles to ensure a place in the last 16 of the Champions Cup.
Photo: Christiaan Kotze (Gallo Images)

A 46-40 victory over group winners Bordeaux-Begles has ensured the Bulls will be listed in the final 16 of the Champions Cup, and coach Jake White is delighted by that, but he did admit to being a little bemused by how hard they made life for themselves at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday afternoon.

The Bulls scored six tries, some of them absolutely brilliant, with flank Marcell Coetzee going over twice and wing Devon Williams, centre David Kriel, fullback Willie le Roux and scrumhalf Embrose Papier, with a superb individual effort, also getting on the try-scorers’ list. Flyhalf Johan Goosen converted five of the tries and his replacement, Jaco van der Walt, kicked two crucial late penalties.

Bordeaux-Begles also scored six tries, taking two bonus points from the match, which was enough to confirm they will finish top of the group.

The Bulls twice found themselves in a rock-solid position of dominance, leading 21-7 after 26 minutes and then 40-21 after 53 minutes, but on both occasions their concentration and game-management wobbled and they ended up letting the quality Bordeaux side back in the game.

It was the home side’s replacements who saw out the final quarter, their strong ball-carrying earning them the two penalties that enabled them to just hold off the French challenge.

“We did make it difficult for ourselves and maybe at halftime we started to think about winning by 36 points because that would have seen us top the pool if Bordeaux didn’t get any bonus points,” White admitted afterwards.

“Maybe we were seduced into that style of play, it became like a sevens game and that probably helped Bordeaux, who are a good team. This is such a big competition and there are very small margins, those are the things we need to be sharper on.

“But I can’t be cross with the team, we had four forwards under the age of 22. This is the next step to Test rugby and the only way the team is going to learn to cope with these sort of situations is by going through it. We need to be more streetwise, but that comes with time. When we have our debrief, we’ll look at what some of the best options should have been.

“But I’m obviously still very proud of the win and scoring 46 points versus Bordeaux, they don’t often concede that many and they have been dominant in France. So I’m happy and it’s nice to learn when you’ve won,” White said.

The Bulls gave the visitors, on an eight-match winning streak, a ferocious welcome as eighthman Cameron Hanekom was ruled to have just lost the ball over the line and tighthead prop Carlu Sadie was yellow-carded for a ruck offence. After seven minutes, the Bulls were finally on the board as Coetzee went over from a tap-penalty.

Bordeaux equalised six minutes later when fullback Romain Buros knifed through to score, but the Bulls then thrilled the crowd of more than 10 000 with a superbly-executed try off a lineout. Strong carries by hooker Jan-Hendrik Wessels and lock Ruan Nortje were followed by a lovely pass out wide from Goosen to Williams, who scampered over for the try.

Coetzee forced his way over for a second try on 26 minutes, but in the last 10 minutes, the Bulls had to call on all their scrambling ability in defence as Bordeaux put them under severe pressure following prop Gerhard Steenekamp’s yellow card for ruck offences.

The Bulls did concede a try to lock Adam Coleman, but half-time beckoned with them still in the lead, 21-14, and then they added a vital score against the run of play. Stedman Gans sparked the counter with a half-break and lovely offload to Le Roux, who was through the gap in a flash and then threw a pinpoint pass to Kriel, who went all the way from long range.

The 26-14 lead would have pleased White, and the try that opened the second half would have delighted him even more. Goosen produced a brilliant up-and-under despite being under big pressure from two defenders, wing Sebastian de Klerk made a fine aerial win and Kriel then made the initial break before Le Roux was, as is his trademark, in the right place at the right time to score.

Papier’s try was a brilliant piece of individual play as his team presented him with untidy, backfoot ball, but the scrumhalf spotted a hole in the defence and raced through it before swerving past the cover defence to dot down.

But White would have then been po-faced as Bordeaux scored three times in the next 15 minutes. But the smile was back as his team held on for a good win.

With Saracens beating Olympique Lyon later on Saturday night, the Bulls remained second in the final group standings and will have a home match in the last 16.

Ironically, White believes finishing second and getting a home match in the last 16 could boomerang on the Bulls.

“I would love to have a home knockout game in this competition, but that means we will play Dragons and Leinster away in the URC, come back for a home last-16 Champions Cup match and then an away quarterfinal before coming back to Loftus to play Munster.

“It will be helluva tough flying back and forth like that. But the nice thing is it shows the improvement and growth we’ve had in the Champions Cup. There is belief that we can win it, but we also need to understand that the big guns are now coming.

“It will be teams where 20 of the 23 are internationals playing against youngsters who are still growing and learning the ropes. I’m a realist and this competition now goes on steroids,” White said.


BullsTries: Marcell Coetzee (2), Devon Williams, David Kriel, Willie le Roux, Embrose Papier. Conversions: Johan Goosen (5). Penalties: Jaco van der Walt (2).

Bordeaux-BeglesTries: Romain Buros, Adam Coleman, Madosh Tambwe, Tevita Tatafu (2), Paul Adadie. Conversions: Zack Holmes (3), Mateo Garcia (2).

SA hockey team overcome miscellaneous challenges in remarkable triumph 0

Posted on April 13, 2023 by Ken

The South African men’s hockey team has had to overcome miscellaneous challenges ranging from the shock departure of their coach to having to pay thousands of rands to compete and having to stay in a boarding house in Potchefstroom, so their victory in the FIH Nations Cup at the weekend was a remarkable, most praiseworthy effort.

More important than winning the trophy itself, the thrilling 4-3 victory over Ireland in the final means South Africa get the single qualification spot for the 2023/24 FIH Pro League, where they will compete on a regular basis with top teams like Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands and India.

South Africa beat Malaysia, France, Canada and Ireland, all teams higher up on the world rankings, to achieve this brilliant feat.

One can only salute the skill, hunger and determination the team showed in the final; they produced some sublime attacking hockey, led by inspirational 22-year-old captain and player of the tournament Dayyaan Cassiem, but their defence, marshalled by veteran Jethro Eustice, was exceptional as they held off numerous Irish onslaughts in the final quarter.

With so much on the line, one can only praise interim coach Cheslin Gie and his charges for showing tremendous composure.

One hopes there are assorted sponsors lining up to support them now that they are going to be getting regular exposure on the global stage. A capacity crowd in Potchefstroom, a fully transformed team and the exciting brand of hockey they play should make it one of the easier sales for SA Hockey to now pull off.

Hockey has enormous support at grassroots level with it being one of the most popular school sports, so the potential for sustained growth is big, providing they get the right backing and the administration is focused on selling the game.

The World Cup in India in January is the next major event on the international hockey calendar and an opportunity for South Africa to move closer to their long-term goal of getting into the top-10 of the rankings.

Tremendous Bachem makes it seem like Euro Tour wins are not retailing for much these days 0

Posted on March 26, 2023 by Ken

Nick Bachem is all smiles after his dominant victory in the Jonsson Workwear Open at Steyn City.

The way Nick Bachem cruised to victory in the Jonsson Workwear Open at Steyn City on Sunday, it may have seemed that DP World Tour titles are not retailing for much these days.

But don’t be fooled by the ease with which the 23-year-old German soared to 24-under-par and a four-stroke victory with a tremendous final-round 64; this was high-quality golf overpowering a field boasting plenty of strength in depth.

Having won his DP World Tour card for the first time at qualifying school in November, Bachem claimed his first title in just his 10th start in the 2022/23 season. The engaging youngster admitted that he did not expect to be winning tournaments quite so soon.

“It’s just amazing, this is just my 10th start. I believed I could win, but just to be playing here is actually pretty overwhelming. I don’t really understand what has happened over the last couple of days, in fact over the last year-and-a-half,” a beaming Bachem said.

“Today was just my day. I thought it was going to be super-close, but I was still chilled and so relaxed. But then on the 15th I saw a scoreboard and saw I was four ahead. And then I got super-nervous! I knew I just needed three pars and I would win, but suddenly that felt so hard!

“But I had to tell myself that it is just golf I am playing and a missed putt or something is not the end of the world. And then it was a nice finish.

“Getting my tour card is always in mind when I’m playing, and now I’ve got the job done pretty early. Now I can just enjoy playing all the events and letting all the experiences sink in.

“It feels unreal right now, it’s definitely a dream come true. I felt it would take more time,” Bachem said.

Beginning the final day one stroke behind leader and fellow German Alexander Knappe, Bachem was struck with terrible bad luck right from the outset, a decent opening tee-shot ending in a plugged lie. He had to take a drop and did exceptionally well to still get a par-four.

From there he reeled off four birdies in the next five holes, which sent him soaring to the top of the leaderboard. Four more birdies on the back nine sealed the deal, the second-placed South African duo of Zander Lombard (65) and Hennie du Plessis (68) left in his wake on 20-under-par.

Another South African, Ockie Strydom, finished in a tie for fourth on 19-under with Scotsman Ewen Ferguson.

The genial Bachem showed he has the bottle to win on the main tour and he said making sure he enjoyed himself on the course was a vital part of handling the pressure.

“I was leading a tournament for the first time a couple of weeks ago in the Kenya Open and I just wanted to win so badly, I wanted to shoot course records, and I ended up nearly finishing last.

“But yesterday I was really calm, I just felt like if I finished top-20 I would be happy. And then my goal today was to just enjoy myself and enjoy as much as possible having the chance to win.

“It’s definitely something I have to keep telling myself because it is not always easy out there. But I just reminded myself that I am in sunny South Africa while it is winter in Germany, playing on a beautiful course. So life is actually pretty good and you need to try and remember that in the tough times.

“I don’t believe there is anything better that I could be doing, playing golf just brings me so much fun and joy. Even when there are bad weeks, it is nice to be able to enjoy them as well, because that is when you learn. In Kenya I learnt so much and without that experience I would have had no chance of winning here,” Bachem said.

It’s been a crazy 18 months for Bachem and now he has even more exciting possibilities in store to look forward to.

“When I was still an amateur, I played a few events on the Pro Golf mini-tour and then I turned pro. Playing on the Challenge Tour in 2022 was pretty good, but I just missed winning my DP World Tour card. Qualifying School was then a real rollercoaster, I was four-over after the first round but then shot 10-under. Just a couple of months later, here I am having won my card for the next two years. So I am pretty excited about the future,” Bachem said.

In his immediate future, there is a trip to France next week. Bachem does not just enjoy riding the waves of fortune and misfortune in the golfing world, he is also a keen surfer of literal waves.

Between the Kenya Open and the Jonsson Workwear Open, Bachem spent time at South Africa’s surfing mecca, Jeffrey’s Bay.

“My family used to go to the west coast of France for holidays on the Atlantic and I started to get into surfing since I was young. I’ve been doing it more and more since I turned 18. Now I can drive a car and I spent six weeks in Portugal recently in a campervan. Maybe there is a career in surfing after golf for me … ”

Like snogging a slobber-mouthed dog as Titans set up for win while title slips away 0

Posted on March 14, 2023 by Ken

Young JP King shone with the bat for North-West.

If a tie is like kissing your sister then winning your last game but seeing your trophy hopes disappear could be like snogging a slobber-mouthed dog. The Northerns Titans maybe felt a bit like that as they set themselves up for a comfortable victory over the North-West Dragons at Centurion, but had to accept that they can no longer win the first-class competition.

The KZN Dolphins have assured themselves of the CSA 4-Day Series title and R1.5 million in prizemoney, even if they lose to the Central Gauteng Lions in Potchefstroom, because the 8.58 bonus points they gathered in the first innings push their tally to 118.04, which none of the other teams can overtake.

The Titans also face a battle for second place and the R750 000 prizemoney because if the Eastern Province Warriors bowl Western Province, currently 129 for three, out for less than 339 on Wednesday then they will pip Northerns by 0.5 of a point. There is no prizemoney for finishing third.

Northerns made heavy weather of bowling North-West out for 360 on Tuesday, letting catches slip and bowling messily. That left them with a potentially awkward target of 190 for victory, but openers Neil Brand and Modiri Litheko did a great job of lifting spirits in the home changeroom with a dashing unbeaten stand of 53 before stumps.

The Titans were probably eyeing the spoils of victory before tea when they claimed three early wickets on the third morning to reduce North-West to 90 for four, still 81 behind.

But Senuran Muthusamy and JP King took advantage of the crisis to prove their mettle. Muthusamy showed why new Test coach Shukri Conrad rates him so highly as he made a determined 62 to go with the six wickets he took in the Northerns first innings, while King, playing just his second game at Division I level, defied the Titans for four hours.

King eventually fell to the natural away-swing of Matthew Boast with the second new ball, but his 92 was a great effort, and the 10 fours and a six he struck showed he has the strokes to go with the determination.

Once Muthusamy was dismissed though, bowled by an excellent yorker from Boast, to leave North-West on 207 for five, just 36 ahead, there was a general laxity to the Titans performance. Perhaps the news had reached them that they were no longer playing for the title, but one would hope a R750 000 prize would still be motivation enough.

The Dragons tail wagged with enthusiasm in response and they added another 153 runs to give themselves a chance of winning their first four-day match this season. Duan Jansen was again an obstacle with 30 and then Juan James, the concussion substitute for Khaya Cotani, who was struck on the head first ball by Junior Dala, lashed 37 off 35 balls and put on 39 for the ninth wicket with Lwandiswa Zuma (15).

Boast was the best of the Northerns bowlers, finishing with three for 62 in 19 overs.

The Titans would have been unhappy with having let North-West come back into the match, but Brand was solid as ever at the top of the order as he reached 17 not out at stumps, while Litheko was in a rush, racing to 29 not out as he banished the memory of scoring just four runs in his last three innings.

Lions guts

The Central Gauteng Lions showed plenty of guts on Tuesday as they fought back superbly on the third day of their CSA 4-Day Series match against the KZN Dolphins in Potchefstroom.

The Dolphins had been calling the tune until Tuesday as they scored 329 and then reduced the Lions to 171 for eight. But the Central Gauteng team began their fightback with some brilliant resistance with the bat, led by Malusi Siboto.

Coming to the wicket at a difficult 128 for six, Siboto was involved in important partnerships of 27 with Connor Esterhuizen (36), 16 with Lutho Sipamla (12) and 26 with Codi Yusuf (14). But at 197 for nine, the Lions still faced a deficit of 132.

But Siboto and 19-year-old Liam Alder, making his first-class debut, then added a defiant 62 for the last wicket, making the trophy-hunting Dolphins really fight for the final wicket.

Siboto ended with a marvellous 54 not out off 167 balls, while Alder eventually fell for 23 off 63 deliveries. The last pair had crucially reduced the Lions’ first-innings deficit to just 70.

The bowlers then did a great job maintaining the comeback vibe for the Lions with Siboto having both Tshepang Dithole and Keegan Petersen caught behind, and spinner Alder claiming the wicket of first-innings top-scorer Marques Ackerman for just 10 as the Dolphins slipped to 68 for four.

Khaya Zondo (65) and Jason Smith (59) then added 111 for the fifth wicket, but Evan Jones then showed some proper skills with the old ball as he ripped through the lower-order, taking five for 46 as the Dolphins crashed from 179 for four to 222 all out.

Set a target of 293 for victory, the Lions were in good condition at stumps as they reached 64 for one.

Thando Ntini drew first blood when Josh Richards was unfortunate to be adjudged lbw for just 2, but instead of venting his spleen, captain Dominic Hendricks went about setting a solid foundation with his 32 not out.

Kagiso Rapulana also looked adept at the crease as he went to 30 not out, he and Hendricks adding 49 as the Lions went to stumps on 64 for one.

Needing another 229 runs to win, the Lions have certainly impressed with the way they have stayed professional right until the final day of the season, even though they can no longer win the four-day title, the Dolphins having accrued too many bonus points in the first innings to be overtaken.


The Eastern Province Warriors are pushing hard for second place as they set Western Province a target of 339 to win at Newlands, the home side reaching 129 for three at stumps.

Glenton Stuurman had Jonathan Bird caught behind for 5 early on, and then returned to claim the key wicket of Zubayr Hamza, bowling him for 51.

Stuurman had earlier top-scored for the Warriors with his 38 lifting them to 184 all out. Left-arm spinner George Linde was the destroyer-in-chief for Western Province, taking three for 25 in 13 overs.

Knights hammer Rocks

The final round’s other game has already been completed with the relegated Free State Knights hammering the Boland Rocks by nine wickets.

Despite a second-wicket partnership of 146 between Pieter Malan (86) and Clyde Fortuin (133), Boland were bowled out for 319 with 23-year-old slow left-armer Monde Maqunqu taking six for 82 in 26.4 overs.

Thanks to his efforts, the Knights were left needing just 39 for victory, with Pite van Biljon and Raynard van Tonder scoring those runs in half-a-dozen overs.

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    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.

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