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Posted on: Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Sharks scrape home against fiery Lions and other sporting news

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Ruan Pienaar

Ruan Pienaar

Sharks scrape home against fiery Lions
The Sharks overcame a spirited and determined effort from the Lions to secure a semi-final spot in the Premier Division of the 2009 Absa Currie Cup at the Absa Stadium in Durban on Saturday afternoon. Stefan Terblanche’s men were made to fight every inch of the way to secure victory against the Lions who produced a sterling defensive effort against their more fancied rivals.

In the end however, the KwaZulu-Natalians squeaked home 19-17 against the visitors from Johannesburg, thanks largely to the boot of scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar (pictured), the domination of their Springbok laden forward pack and a gutsy all round performance from the 34-year-old Terblanche, who is currently playing some of the best rugby of his career.

Despite having the majority of the possession and territory in the opening 40 minutes, the Sharks failed to translate their huge advantage into points as they went into the break just 16-11 to the good. The home side made far too many mistakes close to their opponent’s tryline, which meant they squandered numerous scoring opportunities allowing the Lions to stay in the match.

In fact, the Lions were the first to score a try courtesy of a 14th minute effort by wing Chris Jonck, who dived over his opponent’s tryline after a well-worked break by Doppies la Grange. Flyhalf Herkie Kruger failed to add the extra points, but his earlier penalty gave the Lions an 8-6 advantage after Pienaar had slotted two penalties of his own in the opening minutes.

Sharks No 10 Juan Martin Hernandez put the home side back in front with a well struck drop goal in the 33rd minute and the Sharks went further ahead six minutes later when Bismarck du Pleassis crashed over. Pienaar added the extra points to make it 16-8 in favour of the home side, but Kruger replied with another penalty seconds before the hooter to close the gap to just five points, setting the stage for an interesting second half.

And interesting it was as the Lions came out fighting with Kruger adding another penalty after a couple of minutes to make it 16-14 in favour of the Sharks. This score heralded an intense passage of play, which saw the visitors secure more possession and territory than they did in the first stanza to give the Sharks a run for their money. However, despite some intense attacks from both teams, neither side managed to score any tries as their finishing let them down at crucial moments.

Bother defences were giving it a hundred percent, with Kruger’s efforts in particular standing out. The Lions No 10 sustained a nasty bruised eye in the 47th minute after a clash of heads with Sharks centre Andries Strauss, but was unwilling to leave the pitch despite the eye closing completely. However, with Kruger’s facial features resembling something akin to a one eyed monster, sanity prevailed and the Lions stalwart left the field several minutes later. But if the Sharks thought that their opponents would fold at the demise of their trusty goal kicker they were sadly mistaken as Jonck put the visitors in front again with a 64th minute penalty.

The Sharks turned up the heat in response but were unable to cross their opponent’s tryline, falling foul of some excellent defence. However, Pienaar slotted a 72nd penalty to restore his side’s fragile two point lead, which proved just enough to sneak the win. Despite the loss, which denied them a semi-final berth, the Lions can be proud of their achievements as they ran the Sharks close, denying them a bonus point and leaving them second on the log behind Western Province, courtesy of an inferior points difference.

Sharks captain Terblanche gave an intelligent summary of the evening’s proceedings.  “We have to give credit to the Lions, they played for their lives and we have a lot to do in preparation for the semi-finals,” he remarked. Indeed, the Lions played with remarkable spirit and will go into their final league fixture against Province in Johannesburg this Saturday confident of pulling off an upset. The Sharks’ last outing ahead of next Saturday’s semi-finals is a tricky encounter against the always dangerous Griquas in Kimberley. The diamond miners have had a surprisingly good season and are lying fourth on the log, and a win against the Sharks would secure them a semi-final spot.

Pierre Spies

Pierre Spies

Bulls outclass Griquas, while Cheetahs, WP win easily
The Blue Bulls romped to a convincing 61-27 win over Griquas in their Absa Premier Division Currie Cup clash at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday afternoon. The men from Pretoria outscored the diamond miners by eight tries to four, thereby securing themselves a semi-final berth in this year’s competition.

Griquas could well lose their berth to the Cheetahs, who trounced the Leopards 60-17 in Bloemfontein on Friday, if they don’t beat the Sharks at home this Saturday. However, it was not all doom and gloom for Griquas as they did manage to secure a bonus point by scoring four tries against their illustrious rivals – an achievement not to be sniffed at.

In fact, Griquas made a game of it in the opening stages, going 10-7 up after 12 minutes, but when captain Jonathan Mokuena was sin binned in the 22nd minute for foul play, they seemed to lose heart as the Bulls began to stamp their authority on the game. A halftime lead of 27-13 was increased to 42-20 after 57 minutes and from then on the Bulls piled on points to run away with proceedings.

However, a try by flyhalf Naas Olivier in the dying seconds gave Griquas their fourth try and that all important bonus point, which could mean the difference between qualifying and not qualifying for the semi-finals. The Bulls’ last fixture before the semi-finals is against the Leopards at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in Phokeng on Saturday. In another game played on Saturday, Western Province crushed the Boland Cavaliers 50-7. The Bolanders’ last outing of the season will be against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

Bulls versus Griquas

Bulls 61: Tries: Zane Kirchner, Danie Rossouw, Morne Steyn (2), Pierre Spies (pictured left), Bryan Habana (2), Bandisa Maku. Conversions: Steyn (5), Francois Brummer. Penalties: Steyn (3).
Griquas 27: Tries: Sarel Pretorius, Davon Raubenheimer, Barry Geel, Naas Olivier. Conversions: Naas Olivier (2). Penalties: Olivier.

Boland versus Western Province
WP 50: Tries: Luke Watson (3), Tiaan Liebenberg, Andries Bekker, Ricky Januarie, Tonderai Chavhanga; Conversions: Joe Pietersen (6); Penalty: Joe Pietersen.
Boland 7: Try: Deon Scholtz. Conversion: Mark Harris.

Cheetahs versus Leopards
Cheetahs 60: Tries: Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Ashley Johnson, Hendro Scholtz, Frans Viljoen, WP Nel, Meyer Bosman, Jongi Nokwe, Nico Breedt. Conversions: Tewis de Bruyn (5), Louis Strydom (2). Penalties: Potgieter (2).
Leopards 17: Tries: Deon van Rensburg, Danie Dames. Conversions: Jean Tiedt, Niell Jacobs. Penalty: Tiedt.

Steven Pienaar

Steven Pienaar

Steven’s tumble bad news for Bafana
News from the troubled Bafana Bafana camp is that midfielder Steven Pienaar (pictured) has withdrawn from the squad to face Norway and Iceland within the next few days. Pienaar suffered a knee injury while playing for Everton against Portsmouth in a recent English Premier League clash. Ironically, the person responsible for the injury was none other than Bafana captain Aaron Moekoena, whose heavy tackle flattened the diminutive midfielder. The injury to Pienaar could not have come at a worse time for Bafana whose preparation for next year’s all-important World Cup are not going according to plan.

With six defeats in their last seven outings, the South Africans, and their coach Joel Santana in particular, have come in for heaps of criticism. The injury to a key player like Pienaar, one of the form players in the squad, is a major blow to their chances against their Scandinavian opponents, who always provide a tough outing for any international team at home.

Granted, Pienaar’s replacement, Franklin Cale, has been in excellent form in the PSL of late, but he simply does not have Pienaar’s considerable international experience and it will probably be asking too much from him to spur Bafana into action against the Scandinavians. Bafana square off against Norway in Oslo on Saturday before travelling to Reykjavik to face Iceland on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Amajita, the national Under-20 team, failed to make the quarter-finals of the Under-20 World Cup when they were beaten 2-1 by Ghana in Ismaillia, Egypt yesterday. Kermit Erasmus put the South Africans 1-0 up in the 58th minute after beating Ghana’s defence and rounding goalkeeper Daniel Agyei, but Andre Ayew equalised with a powerful header eight minutes later to leave the match nicely poised with 24 minutes left. However, both teams failed to break the deadlock, forcing the match into extra time where Dominic Adiyiah sealed the win for the Ghanians with a well-struck shot from 25 metres out.

Amajita definitely had their chances to win the game but failed to take them and tired visibly towards the end of the second half, and were almost out on their feet at the end of the game. Ghana will face South Korea in the quarter-finals while the South Africans, despite failing to progress to the last eight, can return home with dignity after recording some decent wins in the tournament

Bongani Khumalo

Bongani Khumalo

Pirates stay on top
Orlando Pirates remained at the top of the Absa Premier Soccer League after playing to a goalless draw with 11th placed Free State Stars at the Charles Mopeli Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Buccaneers are now two points clear of second placed Bidvest Wits who defeated bottom of the log Jomo Cosmos 3-1 at home on Sunday. The pick of the games though was the clash between fourth placed SuperSport United and eigth placed Golden Arrows who fought to a one all draw at the Super Stadium on Saturday.

SuperSport had high hopes of catching log leaders Pirates going into this match but their hopes were dealt a blow when they failed to get the win against a resolute Arrows outfit. Instead they had to settle for a draw – a result that sees them in fourth position on the log with 16 points, one point adrift of third and second placed Bloem Celtic and Bidvest Wits respectively, and two behind Pirates.

SuperSport had to come from a goal down to secure a share of the spoils against Arrows, who went a goal up after 55 minutes courtesy of midfielder Ntlantla Zothwane’s low shot from 10 metres out. Defender Bongani Khumalo (pictured) was the saviour for Matsatsantsa when his 60th minute header found the back of the net after Jabu Maluleke had fired in a free kick.

The home side applied the pressure in the closing stages of the match in the hope of securing a winner, but just could not find a way past Arrows goalkeeper Thulasizwe Khuzwayo, who thwarted efforts from both Maluleke and substitute Tebogo Langerman in the last 10 minutes. The result leaves Arrows eighth on the log, just behind Kaizer Chiefs who had an excellent 3-0 win over sixth placed Ajax Cape Town at Newlands on Sunday. All the PSL teams will have something of a breather for a couple of days with the next round of fixtures only scheduled for Saturday, October 17.

Results (left to right)
Last Wednesday
Ajax Cape Town 1        Platinum Stars 0
AmaZulu 0                Golden Arrows 1
Maritzburg Utd 1            Mamelodi Sundowns 5
Santos 1                Black Aces    0
AmaZulu 2                Moroka Swallows    1
Free State Stars 0        Orlando Pirates 0
Platinum Stars 1            Bloem Celtic 2
SuperSport Utd 1            Golden Arrows 1
Bidvest Wits 3            Jomo Cosmos 1
Ajax Cape Town 0        Kaizer Chiefs 3

Evans Mbamba

Evans Mbamba

Floods delay big fight
The World Boxing Council (WBC) interim super flyweight title fight between South African Evans Mbamba (pictured second from left) and Mexican Tomas Rojas, has been delayed as a result of floods that left thousands of people homeless in the Mexican state of Vera Cruz. The contest was supposed to have taken place on October 3, but has been postponed until Saturday, October 24. The 28-year-old Mbamba boasts an impressive record of 16-0 (8 KO’s) while the 29-year-old Rojas has a log of 31-11-1 (22 KO’s).

Mbamba is an accomplished boxer who has beaten local opposition of the calibre of Unathi Gqoma (W12), Zolile Mbityi (W12) and Tendani Munyai  (KO 2). He has also beaten international opponents such as Devid Lookmahanak (KO 7) and Pedro Cardenas (TKO 11) to establish himself as not only one of the best junior bantamweights in the country, but also as an emerging force on the international fight scene.

However, Mbamba faces a stern test in the form of the durable and experienced Rojas, who has been in with top fighters such as the fierce-some Jorge Arce (L TKO 6), Anselmo Moreno (L10), and Gerry Penalosa (L10) not to mention many others.

Meanwhile, it has been announced that former International Boxing Organisation (IBO) junior lightweight champion Zolani Marali (20-3, 13 KO’s), will move up a division to battle World Boxing Foundation (WBF) lightweight champion Mlungisi Dlamini (20-0-1, 12 KO’s) for the IBO lightweight belt. Marali and Dlamini will clash for the vacant title at Emperors Palace, Kempton Park, on October 31 in a tournament promoted by Golden Gloves.

The 32-year-old Marali was stopped by South Korean Ji-Hoon Kim in his most recent fight, but blamed the defeat on battling to make the junior lightweight limit. Marali was outboxing Kim until he started to fade badly after the seventh round, allowing the rugged Korean back into the fight on his way to recording a stunning upset. The 27-year-old Dlamini, a natural lightweight who has made four defences of his WBF title, must be favoured to beat the older Marali who is unlikely to cope with the KwaZulu-Natalian’s fearsome combination punching.

On the same bill, Tommy ‘Tommy Gun’ Oosthuizen  (8-0, 6 KO’s) squares off against Tshepang Mohale (7-2, 6 KO’s) in a super middleweight bout, while talented Malawian fighter Isaac Chilembe (13-1, 8 KO’s) will challenge Doudou Ngumbu of France (20-0, 9 KO’s) for the WBC International light-heavyweight title. It should be an entertaining night’s action for the vocal Emperor’s Palace crowd, who really enjoy their boxing.

The International Boxing Federation (IBF) youth welterweight title will be up for grabs at the Sport Hall Banjica in Belgrade, Serbia on Saturday night when unbeaten warriors Mthobisi Buthelezi (10-0, 6 KO’s) and Stefan Stevanovic
(8-0, 2 KO’s) do battle in a scheduled 10 rounder.

Stevanovic, from Serbia, captured the title in October last year by out-pointing Russian Michael Schubov over 10 rounds in Belgrade, and then defended it with a split decision victory over another Russian, Alexey Evchemko, in March. The Serbian is a capable boxer and has fought the better quality opposition, but the South African is by far the harder hitter of the two and his points victory over the more experienced Sello Letsoalo in July, would have given him lots of confidence ahead of the biggest fight of his young life.

Nevertheless, Stevanovic must start as the slight favourite in this fight given his greater experience as a professional (he fought 86 fight veteran Anton Glofak in only his fifth professional bout) not to mention having the advantage of fighting on his home turf. Both fighters are just 21, and a loss at this early stage of their careers will not be detrimental, but both youngsters will be hoping that a win will set the stage for bigger and better things.

Yusuf Abdulla

Yusuf Abdulla

Rain spoils Dolphins’ party
The Nashua Dolphins were in a strong position against the Nashua Titans at Kingsmead in Durban before bad light put an early end to proceedings to deny the home team a possible victory in their SuperSport Series match.

Ahmed Amla (53), brother of Proteas player Hashim, and Jon Kent (10) were at the crease when the umpires decided to call it quits under gloomy skies with the Dolphins on 128/3 in their second innings. This meant that the home side had amassed an overall lead of 197 runs after scoring 233 in their first innings, following which the Titans replied with 164.

However, in the end, the weather spoilt what could have been a fantastic game with over 190 overs being lost on the first two and a half days due to bad light and rain. The Titans resumed on 100/2 on Sunday and looked set to surpass the Dolphins’ first innings score, but seamer Yusuf Abdulla (pictured) was the architect of a dramatic Titans collapse which saw the Pretoria visitors lose eight wickets for 64 runs.

Abdulla tore through the Titans’ middle and lower order to capture 5/62 in just 15.4 overs in a devastating spell of swing bowling. The 25-year-old was well supported by Johann Louw who claimed 2/37 in 14 overs and former Protea Andrew Hall, who captured 1/21 from 12 overs. The Titans’ next outing is against the Chevrolet Warriors at Willowmore Park tomorrow, while the Dolphins take on the same opponents the following Thursday.

Jonathan Vandiar

Jonathan Vandiar

Soggy field puts paid to Warriors’ efforts
The Chevrolet Warriors superb all round efforts came to nought against the bizhub Highveld Lions over the weekend when wet run-ups forced the umpires to call a halt to proceedings with the Warriors’ second innings score on 102/2 –an overall lead of 181 runs.

Colin Ingram and Arno Jacobs resumed on 60/2 on Sunday for the Warriors and reached their 50-run partnership for the third wicket in 69 minutes off 99 balls with eight fours. The duo was still at the crease when the umpires made their decision to pull the plug with Ingram on 29 and Jacobs on 21.

The Lions had earlier replied to the Warriors’ mammoth first innings score of 474 with 395/7. Their innings was built on the efforts of Jonathan Vandiar (pictured) who scored 128 off 172 balls. The young Vandiar was well supported by veteran Neil McKenzie (54), Alviro Pterson (51) and Stephen Cook (66). The Warriors first innings was built on the foundation laid by centurion’s Jacobs (119) and Justin Kreusch (130), but in the end their superb efforts with stymied by persistent overnight rain, which created unsafe conditions for the bowlers during their run-ups.
However, the Warriors managed to edge the Lions in the bonus points department, collecting 7.5 points for the match as opposed to the Lions’ 6.7. The two teams meet again on October 22 and will be hoping that the weather plays along this time out.

At this early stage of the competition, with most teams having played only two matches, the Gesterner Diamond Eagles find themselves at the top of the standings with 22.48 points closely followed by the Nashua Titans on 21.72. The Lions are in third position on 16.10 points with the Nashua Cape Cobras fourth on 11.14 while the Warriors (7.50) and Dolphins (6.66) are in fifth and sixth positions respectively, although both teams have played just one game.

No stopping Nelson in Paarl
Twenty-two-year-old Scottburgh resident Prinavin Nelson three-putted the final hole, but it was enough to achieve his maiden Sunshine Tour win on Saturday in the 54-hole SAA Pro-Am Invitational at the 6 289m par-72 Paarl Golf Club. Nelson finished with a final round of four-under 68 for a total of 11-under 205 to edge Desvonde Botes into second place.

The manner in which Nelson began the final round gave no indication that he was feeling any pressure as he reeled off five birdies in the first six holes to open up a nice gap between himself and playing partner Trevor Fisher. Nelson bogeyed the eighth after getting himself in trouble to the left off the tee, but struck back immediately on the ninth with his sixth birdie to record a five-under 31.

Managing to keep his nerves in check, Nelson produced a series of pars, even though he wasn’t putting as well as he usually does. This seemed to release the pressure on the young KwaZulu-Natalian somewhat as Fisher’s challenge faded, and there was the knowledge that only Botes could place any pressure on him. Nelson didn’t disappoint by lying up short of the green on the 18th and playing his chip to about 15 feet, leaving him three putts to get home, which he duly achieved.

A graduate of the Ernie Els Foundation, Nelson finished 71st on the Order of Merit in his debut season on the Sunshine Tour last year, but it had been a quiet year until now for the youngster, with only one top 20 finish – 18th in last month’s Vodacom Business Origins of Golf at Selborne Estate.

Nelson’s victory in Paarl has catapulted him to 57th in the 2009 Order of Merit, and boosted his confidence: “The first win feels really great, and I hope that everything feels a lot easier from the next tournament onwards,” he said. With any luck, KwaZulu-Natal and South Africa may have a future star in the making.

Top eight scores (South African unless specified)
205 – Prinavin Nelson 68 69 68
206 – Desvonde Botes 71 68 67
207 – Chris Swanepoel 73 66 68, Jacques Blaauw 75 64 68, Trevor Fisher Jnr 68 69 70
208 – Clinton Whitelaw 80 62 66
209 – Jaco Van Zyl 74 68 67, Divan van den Heever 72 67 70

Vos and Pitchford

Vos and Pitchford

Vos and Pitchford do it again
There just seems to be no stopping the SP Donaldson Nissan Navara duo of Duncan Vos and Ralph Pitchford (pictured). The pair, who have already been crowned 2009 South African National Off-Road Racing Champions, recorded their fifth win in seven races this season by triumphing in the Toyota Dealer 400 in Lydenburg on Saturday.

Vos and Pitchford’s time of 7 hrs, 52 min and 29 sec was 24 seconds better than the efforts of Hein Lategan and Chris Birkin in their Toyota Hilux. Ivar Tollefsen and Quin Evans were third in another Nissan Navara, 2 min, 32 sec further back and 22 seconds ahead of Anthony Taylor and Robin Houghton in another Toyota Hilux.

Veteran Hannes Grobler and Juan Mohr were fifth, 27 seconds behind Taylor and Houghton. The experienced duo led the race in the early going from Nissan team-mates Vos and Pitchford and Tollefsen and Evans, but dropped back to 11th after picking up a puncture.

It was a very successful event for Nissan who also triumphed in class A (Vos and Pitchford) and class E, with former circuit racing champion Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie steering their Ferodo Nissan Hardbody to 16th overall and 1.01 sec ahead of the Toyota Hilux of Jannie Visser and Joks le Roux. Vos and Pitchford, Tollefsen and Evans and Grobler and Mohr combined to give Nissan the manufacturers’ challenge award for the event.

Vos and Pitchford lead the championship with 148 points, while Tollefsen and Evans are second on 82 and Gary Bertholdt and Andre Vermeulen third on 74. The final round of the championship is the RFS Magalies 400, which takes place from November 6-7.

Len Jenkins

Len Jenkins

Jenkins takes Fish River honours
Len Jenkins (pictured) won the 2009 Hansa Powerade Fish River Canoe Marathon in a record time of 4 hours, 51 min and 16 sec in Cradock on Saturday, shattering his old mark by more than six minutes. Jenkins was up against some stiff competition in the form of German sprint world champion Max Hoff and the ever-consistent Hank McGregor. Hoff powered his way past McGregor to take second place, beating the stage record on the second and final day. Under-23 world marathon champion Grant van der Walt finished fourth while Czech wild water ace Robert Knebel was fifth.

Robyn Kime won the women’s race in 5:38:22 with another Czech, Katerina Vacikova, second in 5:39:48 and Michéle Steyn third in 5:42:36. Abie Adie (5:47:01) and Jen Hodson (5:58:22) were fourth and fifth respectively. World junior marathon champion Brandon van der Walt won the junior race in 5:12:07 while Cradock local Hanré Maree clinched victory in the women’s junior event in a record-breaking 6:01:44.

Photo Credits:
Sharks scrape home against fiery Lions – Photo – Ruan Pienaar: Source – www.zimbio.com
Bulls outclass Griquas, while Cheetahs, WP win easily – Photo – Pierre Spies: Source – www.zimbio.com
Steven’s tumble bad news for Bafana – Photo – Steven Pienaar: Source – www.dailymail.co.uk
Pirates stay on top – Photo – Bongani Khumalo: Source – www.baobongda.com.vn
Floods delay big fight – Photo – Evans Mbamba: Source – www.fightnews.com
Rain spoils Dolphins’ party – Photo – Yusuf Abdulla: Source – www.cricinfo.com
Soggy field puts paid to Warriors’ efforts – Photo – Jonathan Vandiar: Source – www.pictopia.com
No stopping Nelson in Paarl – Photo – Prinavin Nelson: Source – www.sunshinetour.com
Vos and Pitchford do it again – Photo – Duncan Vos and Ralph Pitchford: Source – www.quickpic.co.za
Jenkins takes Fish River honours – Photo – Len Jenkins: Source – www.dusi.co.za

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