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Ken Borland

Joyous relief to play France, but SA still go down 0

Posted on March 24, 2022 by Ken

While there would have been some joyous relief for the South African team not to have to play powerhouses Netherlands or India, their FIH Hockey Pro League match against France in Potchefstroom on Tuesday night still ended in defeat as they went down 4-1.

While France are ranked just two places above South Africa in 12th on the world rankings, they are arguably the most improved side in the game in recent years. So the good news for the embattled South Africans is that they matched France in the middle of the field, but it was in the circles where the European side were just way more clinical.

France went 2-0 up in the first 10 minutes through two deflection goals, but South Africa had also looked threatening, no more so when Bili Ntuli’s reverse-sticks shot came off the post after Bradley Sherwood, who was an encouraging addition to the side, robbed a defender of possession.

The hosts then held France scoreless in the second quarter and were creating enough opportunities for them to feel they could yet njotch their first Pro League win.

But France were just too clinical in the second half, making full use of the opportunities they had. In the 41st minute, they pounced on one loose pass by South Africa, racing down the right of the field before crossing to the middle, where Gaspard Baumgartner finished the move for his second goal.

France went 4-0 up in the 54th minute through similar ruthlessness on the counter-attack. A quick overhead from a free hit found an attacker on the edge of the circle, he put in the cross, which was missed by an SA defender, allowing Timothee Clement to score.

It was also a feature of the match that France’s defence remained impressively composed and solid, while South Africa’s tended to make costly basic mistakes every now and then.

South Africa did, however, get on the scoreboard with three minutes remaining when the Cassiem brothers, Mustapha and Dayaan, combined superbly for Dayaan to put the chance away. He had hit the crossbar just a minute earlier when Mustapha had also been the provider.

Boks match decided by a penalty at the death for the 3rd time this year 0

Posted on October 18, 2021 by Ken

For the third time this year the Springboks were involved in a Test match that was decided by a penalty at the death as they went down 17-19 to the All Blacks in Townsville on Saturday, coach Jacques Nienaber describing it as “swings and roundabouts”.

New Zealand fullback Jordie Barrett slotted a brilliant, angled, long-range penalty to deny the Springboks, who had enough front-foot ball in the closing stages to shut the All Blacks out, but instead tended to kick that possession away.

South Africa won the series against the British and Irish Lions through Morne Steyn’s fairytale penalty, but were then beaten two weeks ago by the Wallabies through a last-ditch kick by Quade Cooper, another comeback story for the ages.

Nienaber was philosophical about the heartbreaking loss that consigned the world champions to a third successive defeat and handed the Rugby Championship title to New Zealand.

“It was a proper Test match as you’d expect from No.1 versus No.2 and there were small margins. We each have our own DNA, but it is always physical and comes down to a couple of points. That’s the contest, it’s that tight and we expected that. Our game-plan worked, we had opportunities, and it went down to the wire, decided by a call here or a bounce of the ball there.

“Obviously we are hurting because we could have pulled the result out of the game, we were in position to do it. I thought it was an excellent effort and we deserved victory. We were in with a shot at the end and it comes down to small margins. But we won against the Lions like this and Australia did the same to us, so it’s swings and roundabouts,” Nienaber said after South Africa had lost a third successive game for the first time since 2016.

While the Springboks brought their old physicality, sheer mongrel and set-piece brilliance to the contest, the criticisms that they overdo the kicking game and are poor with ball in hand will return as they wasted front-foot ball when they were still in the lead in the closing stages by kicking it away. Bizarrely, up-and-unders were twice launched from the All Blacks’ 22, South Africa losing the resulting 50/50 contests when they had been in control of possession.

But Nienaber defended the decision-making of his halfbacks.

“We always say we must attack space, but we had 14 players in front of us in the line and only one at the back, so unfortunately there was not a lot of space. We want to create a one-on-one and you can do that with a passing game or with a kick. If you can create space through the air, or by running or passing, then you must attack there.

“If we had won this match then we wouldn’t be having these questions. We could have probably shown more composure at the back end of the game, finishing the match better when we were leading up to the 78th minute springs to mind as something we could have done better. This is a very experienced side but we sill have a lot to learn as a group,” Nienaber said.

Germany get the tolerance & the only goal 0

Posted on July 18, 2017 by Ken



South Africa went down 1-0 to Germany in their Hockey World League women’s quarterfinal at the Wits Astro on Tuesday night, in a game marred by the officials’ tolerance of the Germans’ over-robust play and their bumbling use of the video referral system.

After an evenly-contested first quarter, in which there were chances at both ends but SA goalkeeper Nicole la Fleur’s double-save at a short-corner was a highlight, the home side launched a promising attack which led to a short-corner as Sulette Damons’ good cross was met by Jade Mayne, whose reverse-sticks shot was saved but not without a penalty corner being conceded.

Bernie Coston was then barged over as she went for the deflection from the set-piece, an infringement missed by New Zealand umpire Kelly Hudson. But South Africa called for the video referral and Russian TV umpire Elena Eskina agreed that there had been an off-the-ball body tackle, but called for a card and a short-corner. Ordinarily, a card would be given for a deliberate offence and, being in the circle, that should lead to a penalty stroke.

Umpire Hudson then awarded the short-corner but did not issue the card, leading to confusion all round.

“We asked about the card and what the video umpire said, but the umpire just waved us away and said we must play on,” South Africa captain Nicolene Terblanche, who was celebrating her 200th cap, said afterwards.

The Germans were also extremely physical, often shouldering South African players off the ball, but the home side maintained their composure exceptionally well and certainly ensured the world’s seventh-ranked side were in a fierce contest.

“Germany are always physical and they won a lot of 50/50 balls, which are about who fights hardest. But we were very composed and stuck to our guns, I was very happy with how we reacted. We had control of the game in general and had enough chances to get a win out of it, but we just couldn’t turn them into goals,” South Africa coach Sheldon Rostron said.

Germany brought their typical measured, controlled approach to the game, but South Africa more than held their own as they too played mature, impressive hockey. Their build-up work was at times brilliant, but sadly the finishing touches were lacking.

With two minutes to go to halftime, Camille Nobis received the ball close to goal, swivelled and easily took La Fleur out of the game before flipping the ball into the empty goal to give Germany their 1-0 lead.

South Africa had more than enough chances to equalise, starting with one just a minute later when German goalkeeper Julia Ciupka dived to keep out the impressive Ilse Davids’ reverse-sticks shot from the top of the circle.

In the 41st minute, Damons just had the goalkeeper to beat, but lost control of the ball and was tackled by Ciupka, but the best chance of all fell to Candice Manuel, the heroine of the thrilling win over the USA that put South Africa into the quarterfinals.

Davids intercepted the ball in the German defence and passed to Manuel, who flicked over the advancing goalkeeper only to see the ball bounce wide of the open goal.

The German goalkeeper conceded another short-corner in the 54th minute, but with the ball bobbling about the goalmouth, the home side were just unable to scramble the ball into goal.

The Germans had a goal disallowed on review, umpire Hudson missing that the ball had come off the leg of an attacker, and the South Africans forced one last short-corner in the 59th minute and should have been awarded another but the ball was cleared.

The home side will now chase fifth spot and automatic qualification for the World Cup in London next year, with the gutsy Irish side the first hurdle to get over in that regard. The match will be played on Thursday, before the semi-finals between Germany and Argentina, and England and the United States.

Results: USA 1 (Michelle Vittese) Japan 0; Argentina 2 (Delfina Merino, Julia Gomes) Ireland 1 (Roisin Upton); England 4 (Giselle Ansley, Alex Danson, Susannah Townsend, Hannah Martin) India 1 (Gurjit Kaur); South Africa 0 Germany 1 (Camille Nobis).

Wednesday’s fixtures (men’s quarterfinals): 11.15am Australia v Egypt; 1.30pm Spain v Ireland; 3.45pm Germany v France; 6pm Belgium v New Zealand.


Bulls earn credit, but still lose 0

Posted on April 01, 2017 by Ken


The Bulls will earn deserved credit for their improvement, but the end result was still the same as they went down 28-12 to the Chiefs in a bonus point defeat in their SuperRugby match in Hamilton on Saturday.

A superb first-half display by the Bulls in which intensity crackled through everything they did – in attack they were direct and handled superbly, while their defence was physical and uncompromising – saw them claim a deserved 9-3 lead at the break.

But the Chiefs showed their class as they stayed composed and were able to pull away from the 50-minute mark, scoring three tries in an ultimately impressive victory.

The Chiefs had a terrible time in the first half trying to contain superb Bulls inside centre Burger Odendaal, who led the visitors’ resurgence with some powerful ball-carries and excellent midfield defence. It led to the home side having missed an awful 15 tackles by halftime.

But the Bulls just lacked the attacking incisiveness to convert their gains into points on the scoreboard.

When centre Jan Serfontein went inside instead of pinning his ears back on the outside following some storming runs by Odendaal in the fourth minute, it was one of many moments when the Bulls were left wondering what might have been.

The Chiefs had been caught offsides in the build-up, however, and flyhalf Handre Pollard was at least able to kick a penalty for an early 3-0 lead.

More superb carries and direct running by the Bulls, and a determined rumble forward by prop Trevor Nyakane, led to another Pollard penalty in the 10th minute, but the Chiefs dominated the first scrum four minutes later, earning a penalty kicked by flyhalf Aaron Cruden (3-6).

But the Bulls had the final say in the first half as the Chiefs tried to run the ball out of their own 22 after conceding a free kick, but were turned over, allowing the Bulls to string several phases together and earn another Pollard penalty for not releasing at the ruck.

But the tide began to turn in the 51st minute as wing Jamba Ulengo suffered another horrible moment in defence, wing Shaun Stevenson leaving him flatfooted as the Chiefs attacked off a lineout, and then grubbering through and regathering the ball for the first try of the match. Cruden converted to give the Chiefs a 10-9 lead.

That was quickly stretched to 13-9 with another Cruden penalty after Bulls captain Adriaan Strauss stupidly went off his feet at a ruck in front of his own poles, but the visitors had a stroke of luck in the 62nd minute when a dominant Chiefs scrum was penalised for illegal wheeling, Pollard’s long-range penalty closing the gap to one point (12-13).

But it was all the Chiefs in the final 15 minutes as the Bulls suffered another late-game fade.

The Bulls lost a four-man lineout in their own 22 but a superb tackle by lock RG Snyman prevented fullback Damian McKenzie from knifing through to score. But an earlier infringement allowed Cruden to kick a penalty and stretch the lead back to 16-12.

A lovely 71st-minute move from a scrum saw scrumhalf Tawera Kerr-Barlow running at the line before putting a grubber through that McKenzie raced on to and dotted down.

Another slick backline move with two minutes remaining saw different angles of running and McKenzie bursting through, before replacement prop Atunaisa Moli charged through and reached over the line for the bonus point try.

The scrums were hard-fought transactions, but they did allow the Chiefs to release some of the pressure on them as they had the edge in that set-piece. Nyakane’s move to tighthead was again a talking point.

Lock Lood de Jager was a hardworking – if not always accurate – member of the pack, with partner Snyman also shining, while Jannes Kirsten came off the bench after 20 minutes to replace eighthman Arno Botha and made his presence felt. He should be in the starting line-up next week.

Jesse Kriel was impressive at fullback and halfbacks Rudy Paige and Pollard were on the same page.

But while the Bulls were much-improved, being gutsy losers is not a tag they or their supporters will take kindly to.


ChiefsTries: Shaun Stevenson, Damian McKenzie, Atunaisa Moli. Conversions: Aaron Cruden (2). Penalties: Cruden (3).

BullsPenalties: Handre Pollard (4).

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