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Posted on: Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Sharks to face Cheetahs in semis … and other sports news

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Stefan Terblanche

Stefan Terblanche

Sharks to face Cheetahs in semis
The Sharks managed to overcome a spirited effort by Griquas in their final league match of the season to qualify for the 2009 Absa Currie Cup Premier Division semi-finals when they defeated the diamond miners 45-30 at GWK Park in Kimberley on Saturday afternoon.

The KwaZulu-Natalians outscored their opponents by seven tries to four and deserved their win, but will have to tighten up their defence considerably if they hope to prevail in Saturday’s semi-final against the resurgent Cheetahs at the Absa Stadium in Durban. The Sharks missed 25 tackles against Griquas and conceded some soft tries with some of their defenders showing a distinct lack of commitment. Griquas centre Barry Geel exploited these defensive frailties to grab a hat trick of tries with Sarel Pretorius adding another to ensure a bonus point for the home team …

However, the diamond miners needed to finish within seven points to secure another bonus point in order to qualify for the semi-finals after the Cheetahs had thumped Boland 55-10 in Wellington. They were unable to do so, going down by 15 points despite putting up a credible performance against their more fancied opponents. Griquas did in fact finish with the same number of league and bonus points as the Cheetahs after 14 matches, but the Cheetahs’ superior points difference enabled them to get through despite a terrible start to the season which saw the lose their opening four matches.

Defensive frailties aside, there were a number of positives for the Sharks to take away from their match against Griquas. The KwaZulu-Natalians were superb on attack, with the cohesion between backs and forwards particularly impressive. Fullback and captain Stefan Terblanche (pictured), scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar, wing JP Pietersen, hooker Bismarck du Plessis, eighth-man Ryan Kankowski and reserve hooker Craig Burden, who scored twice, all crossed the Griquas tryline, with Pienaar converting five of the tries for a personally tally of 15 points.

The Sharks had the better of the scrums and secured more possession than their opponents, and seemed able to turn up the heat and score whenever they pleased. In fact, with the exception of their leaky defence and scrappy lineout work, it was a convincing performance by the KwaZulu-Natalians who were never really in danger of losing the match.

Pienaar’s performance was particularly encouraging for the Sharks as the Springbok utility back had been entrusted with the kicking duties ahead of flyhalf Juan Hernandez. The elusive scrumhalf did not disappoint his backers by proving he can get the ball through the uprights if he puts his mind to it. Pienaar’s performance with the boot will also be encouraging for Springbok coach Pieter de Villiers, who now has additional options for his team’s end of the year tour of Europe and Great Britain.

Sharks coach John Plumtree will be a happy man going into Saturday’s semi-final against the Cheetahs who, despite a recent resurgence which has seen them win eight of their last 10 matches, must start as underdogs against the Sharks. The KwaZulu-Natalians defeated the Cheetahs in both of their league encounters this season and on paper are clearly the better team, however they will have to tighten up their defence considerably against the Free Staters who possess a lot of firepower on attack with the likes of Fabian Juries, Jongi Nokwe and Lionel Mapoe proving a headache for even the best defenders.

Whatever happens at the Absa Stadium on Saturday afternoon, one can be assured that the contest will be an enthralling one with no quarter asked or given. The prize for the winner will be a place in the Currie Cup final and no one can ask for a bigger incentive than that. The Sharks, with 12 wins from 14 starts this season, an arsenal of experienced Springboks and vitally important home ground advantage must start as clear favourites, but the Cheetahs with their never say die attitude are always dangerous and can never be discounted. It should be a fascinating contest.

Griquas versus Sharks
Griquas 30 – Tries: Barry Geel (3), Sarel Pretorius. Conversions: Naas Olivier (2). Penalty: Riaan Viljoen. Drop Goal: Viljoen.
Sharks 45 – Tries: Stefan Terblanche, Ruan Pienaar, JP Pietersen, Bismarck du Plessis, Craig Burden (2), Ryan Kankowski. Conversions: Pienaar (5).

Boland versus Free State
Boland 10 – Try: Danré Gerber. Conversion: Gerber. Penalty: Gerber.
Free State 55 – Tries: Heinrich Brussow (2), Jongi Nokwe (2), Tewis de Bruyn, Frans Viljoen, JW Jonker (2), Fabian Juries. Conversions: Louis Strydom (5).

Chris Jonck

Chris Jonck

Lions edge Province in Joburg thriller
Western Province won’t be happy with what transpired at Cola Cola Park in Johannesburg on Saturday when they went down 27-25 to the Lions in their final league match of the 2009 Absa Currie Cup Premier League season. The loss means the Capetonians finish second in this year’s competition and will now have to face the mighty Blue Bulls at Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday afternoon in the second Currie Cup semi-final. This is an unenviable task to say the least given that the Bulls will field an awesome side packed with Springboks and brimming with confidence after winning their last four games.

Indeed, the Bulls are on something of a role after defeating Boland, the Cheetahs, Griquas and the Leopards on successive weekends. The Bulls gored the hapless Leopards 61-24 on Friday evening at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in Phokeng to finish third on the log with 46 points – six clear of nearest rivals, the Cheetahs. The men in blue have now amassed a colossal 224 points in their last four outings whilst conceded just 94 and will undoubtedly start as favourites against Province on Saturday, despite having to travel away from their hallowed ground of Loftus Versfeld.

Province started well enough against the Lions on Saturday, going 17-3 up in the opening quarter but they lost their way as the match progressed with the Lions fighting their way into contention with a display of raw courage that seemed to sap the strength of the home side. With the score 25-24 in favour of Province with just seven minutes to play, livewire Lions scrumhalf Chris Jonck (pictured) put his team ahead with a well-taken penalty, forcing the home side to go for broke to secure a win and a bonus point for scoring four tries.

With just 31 seconds remaining they looked as though they might do just that when they were awarded a scrum and launched a backline movement, which saw them carry the ball into the Lions’ 22. However, replacement flank Todd Clever, who plays international rugby for the American Eagles, bundled towering Province lock Andries Bekker into touch to secure an excellent win for the Lions, who will be thrilled with their gutsy performance against their more fancied opponents.

The Lions had a less than stellar season, but the way they finished their campaign must have been very encouraging for coach Hans Coetzee and captain Cobus Grobbelaar, who was very happy with his team’s performance. “The guys played well, we said before the game that we had to start winning these tight games and show character, and we did exactly that today,” he said.

It was a result that must give the Lions a lot of hope for next season’s competition. They have come through a difficult year with flying colours and the result is a team brimming with confidence after three excellent performances in their last three league outings against Boland, (won 88-15), the Sharks (lost 19-17) and Province (won 27-25).

Lions versus Western Province

Lions 27 – Tries: Doppies la Grange (2), Dusty Noble. Conversions: Herkie Kruger (3). Penalties: Kruger, Chris Jonck.
Western Province 25 – Tries: Juan de Jongh, Joe Pietersen, Francois Louw. Conversions: Pietersen (2). Penalties: Pietersen (2).

Leopards versus Blue Bulls
Leopards 24 – Tries: Jovan Bowles, Shuaib Samaai, Theo van Wyk. Conversions: Cecil Dumond (2), Clayton Durand. Penalty: Dumond.
Blue Bulls 61 – Tries: Deon Stegmann, Zane Kirchner, Morné Steyn, Bakkies Botha, Wynand Olivier, Francois Hougaard, Gerhard van den Heever (2), Jaco Pretorius. Conversions: Steyn (6), Burton Francis (2).

Meanwhile, the 2009 Absa Currie Cup First Division finalists were decided over the weekend when the Pumas defeated the Elephants 31-18 in Witbank while the SWD Eagles accounted for the defending champions, the Griffons, by the same score in George. The final will be held on Friday at the Pumas Stadium in Witbank. Both finalists will be playing in a series of promotion/relegation matches later this month. Their opponents will be the Platinum Leopards and the Boland Cavaliers who had a torrid season in the Premier Division.

Both teams won only one of their 14 matches (against each other), and were merely cannon fodder for the bigger unions, which could not have been good for their morale. It will be interesting to see how they fair against the likes of the Pumas and the Eagles, who have both had excellent seasons in the First Division and must fancy their chances against the Premier League whipping boys.

Joel Santana

Joel Santana

Lame Bafana lose again
Bafana slumped to their eighth defeat in nine outings when they lost 1-0 to lowly Iceland in Reykjavik last night. The South Africans played with little passion and clearly lacked the will to win by putting on a very dour display against the Scandinavians. Viegar Pall Gunnarsson scored the only goal of the match in the 50th minute, but other than that there was little to excite the spectators in an exceptionally dull match that was about as interesting as watching paint dry.

The time has clearly arrived for the South Africa Football Association (Safa) to axe Bafana coach Joel Santana (pictured) who persists in applying the same defensive strategy game after game despite a lack of results. Bafana need someone to inspire them to score goals, which is unlikely to happen under the ultra cautious and defensive minded Santana.

Bafana’s loss against Iceland comes just days after their 1-0 defeat to Norway, another team who are lightly regarded on the international scene. Bafana are clearly in urgent need of a major overhaul before they take on Japan on and Jamaica next month. Replacing Santana will go along way to kick-starting the process and it is imperative that this is done immediately. The World Cup is just eight months away and if Bafana don’t get their house in order very soon, they are likely to run the risk of being the laughing stock of the world come June 2010.

Meanwhile, the PSL season resumes after a short break of 13 days between matches with another full round of fixtures scheduled for the weekend. The pick of the encounters is likely to be the clash between log leaders Orlando Pirates and fifth placed Santos at Coca-Cola Park on Saturday.

The Buccaneers are unbeaten in the competition thus far with five wins and four losses from nine games and are sitting pretty with 19 points. Santos are having a good season with four wins, three draws and two losses from their nine outings and will be looking to spring an upset against their esteemed opponents. Kick off is at 8.15pm.

Free State Stars vs Platinum Stars
Black Aces vs SuperSport Utd
Mamelodi Sundowns vs Kaizer Chiefs
Golden Arrows vs Bidvest Wits
Jomo Cosmos vs AmaZulu
Orlando Pirates vs Santos

Ajax Cape Town vs Bloem Celtic
Moroka Swallows    vs Maritzburg Utd

Mthobisi Buthelezi

Mthobisi Buthelezi

Buthelezi fails to lift IBF title
Gauteng based Mthobisi Buthelezi (pictured) suffered the first defeat of his professional boxing career when he was narrowly out-pointed by Stefan Stevanovic for the International Boxing Federation (IBF) Youth welterweight title at the Sport Hall Banjica in Belgrade, Serbia on Saturday evening.

The 21-year-old Stevanovic (9-0, 2 KO’s) triumphed by scores of 97-94, 96-94 and 96-95 to win by a unanimous decision in the 10 round bout. Buthelezi, also 21, had fought only mediocre opposition in his young career which began on May 8 last year with a second round TKO win over Lucky Mavimbela, and therefore was not expected to give the more experienced Serbian a run for his money.

However, the South African produced a credible performance to keep the fight interesting, forcing Stevanovic to dig deep to pull off the win. Nevertheless, the young pugilist will undoubtedly be disappointed as not being able to bring home the IBF belt to South Africa after having travelled such a long way to meet the Serbian. Buthelezi (10-1, 6 KO’s), a former mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter, will most probably return to fighting domestic opposition to sharpen his skills before he tries to have another crack at an international belt.

Andrew Puttick

Andrew Puttick

Puttick turns up the voltage to shock Otago
Opener Andrew Puttick (pictured), a late replacement for Graeme Smith, smashed 104 runs off 62 balls as the Cape Cobras carved out a convincing 54-run victory over the Otago Volts in their Champions League Twenty20 match at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad, India on Saturday.

The Cobras notched up 193/4 in their allotted 20 overs, thanks to the efforts of Puttick, Justin Ontong (39 not out) and JP Duminy (33). Puttick bettered his previous Twenty20 best of 86 as he raced to his century off just 60 balls, which included 12 fours and a glorious six. Ontong got stuck into the Otago bowlers towards the end of the Cobras’ innings, clubbing two fours and four sixes in his 14 ball innings, which enabled the Cobras to get 67 off the last five overs.

With Otago having to score at nearly 10 an over to win from the outset, they were always facing an uphill task. It wasn’t surprising then that they could only muster 139 all out in response to their opponents’ impressive total. Brothers, Brendon (21) and Nathan McCullum (38), were the only batsmen who made any significant contributions, and once Rory Kleinveldt dismissed Nathan it was all over bar the shouting as Otago lost their remaining four wickets for the addition of just 23 runs.

Kleinveldt, with three for 24 off three overs, and Duminy, with two for ten off seven deliveries, were the destroyers in chief for the Cobras. The wins means the Western Cape franchise advance to the Super Eights stage of the tournament after beating the Royal Challengers Bangalore by five wickets in their opening match.

CJ de Villiers

CJ de Villiers

CJ sinks Sussex
Some brilliant fast bowling by CJ de Villiers (pictured centre) ensured a memorable win for the Diamond Eagles in their Champions League Twenty20 match against the Sussex Sharks at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium in Dehli, India last night.

The lanky De Villiers grabbed two wickets in two balls in a super over tie breaker after both teams had scored the same number of runs off their allotted 20 overs. Set 10 runs for victory after the Eagles had scored 9/1 in their over, Sussex were blown out of the water by the impressive de Villiers who destroyed the stumps of Dwayne Smith and Rory Hamilton-Brown with his first two deliveries.

It was a very satisfying win for the Eagles and de Villiers looks like a real find. The 23-year-old bowled accurately and quickly giving the Sharks very few scoring opportunities, and restricting them to a rather modest 119/7. He was full value for his figures of 2-20 off four overs and was well supported by Dillon du Preez (2-23), Ryan Bailey (1-11) and Victor Mpitsang (1-20). Ed Joyce with 21 runs off 34 balls and Joe Gatting with 25 off 22 were the top scorers for the English franchise.

Needing to score at exactly six to the over for victory, the Eagles were cruising along on 72 without loss before Adrian McClaren was caught by wicketkeeper Andy Hodd off the bowling off Hamilton-Brown for 16. Morne van Wyk (2) and Boeta Dippenaar (7) quickly followed suit leaving the Eagles on 93/3 with just 22 deliveries remaining in the innings.

Rilee Rossouw was dismissed for a well-played 65 off 62 balls with the total on 106 and it looked like the Eagles were going to fall just short of their target. However, two fours off the last over by Ryan McClaren (14 off 13 balls) helped the Eagles to tie the scores and force the super over where de Villiers wrapped up the game for the South African franchise. The win booked the Eagles a place in the tournament Super Eights.

Davey Jacobs

Davey Jacobs

Titans versus Warriors match fails to get going
Sloppy preparation by the ground staff at Willowmoore Park ruined a potentially interesting SuperSport Series encounter between the Nashua Titans and the Chevrolet Warriors. The umpires abandoned the match on Thursday after the Titans bowlers had sent down a meagre seven overs on the opening day.

At that early stage the Warriors were 17/1 before soft areas on the bowlers’ run-ups and follow-throughs forced the umpires to call a halt to proceedings. A dangerous indentation had taken shape at the Chalets End and umpires Karl Hurter and Dennis Smith put their hopes in saving the match on the use of the roller the following day.

However, its use depends on the decision taken by the batting captain, and Warriors skipper Davey Jacobs (pictured) was not at all pleased with the idea, forcing the umpires and match referee Tiffie Barnes to abandon the match. Jacobs’ decision is likely to anger the Titans, with the defending champions unable to score any points from the game and also facing the possibility of penalties in terms of points and money for the shoddy state of the pitch.

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 bizhub Highveld Lions are in third position on 16.10 points with the Nashua Cape Cobras fourth on 11.14, while the Chevrolet Warriors (7.50) and Nashua Dolphins (6.66) are in fifth and sixth positions respectively, although the Dolphins have only had one outing. However, that will soon change when the KwaZulu-Natalians take on the Warriors at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth tomorrow in what promises to be an interesting encounter between two well-balanced sides.

Stephen Mokoka

Stephen Mokoka

SA excel in gruelling World Champs
South Africa’s men and women teams had a very successful World Half-marathon Championships when both teams finished in sixth position in Birmingham on Sunday. National champion Stephen Mokoka (pictured) and debutant Rene Kalmer had excellent runs when they placed eighth and 15th respectively.

Mokoka was particularly impressive, keeping up with the race leaders from the beginning despite the fast pace. The 24-year-old Mokoka passed the 5km mark in 14 minutes and 30 seconds, only three seconds behind the front runners, and although he had dropped an additional 32 seconds back by 10km, which he passed in 13th position in 29:29, he still managed to work his way through the field.

The South African moved up another position by the 15km mark and over the final 6.1km passed another four competitors to finish eighth in 1:01:36 – a meagre 10 seconds off his personal best. Countrymen Olebong Masire and Mbongeni Ngxazozo finished 29th in 1:03:13 and 36th in 1:03:47 respectively. Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadese, who set a new championship record of 59:35, won the race. Bernard Kipyego (59:59) of Kenya took silver and American Dathan Ritzenhein (1:00:00) captured bronze.

Kalmer paced herself well over the 21.1km course to finish 15th in 1:10:37, breaking her personal best by well over a minute. Although it was the 28-year-old’s first global running championship, she handled the pressure well to go through the first 5 km in 16:09, 52 seconds behind the leaders and in 18th position.

The South African improved to 15th overall after 10km in 33:03 and moved up to 13th place after 15km in 49:47. However, the final 6.1km proved taxing as Kalmer dropped back to 15th position and remained there until the finish. Nevertheless, she will be pleased with her performance given that she was a novice who was competing against the very best the world had to offer.

South African champion Annerien van Schalkwyk ran the race of her life to finish 20th in 1:11:26, breaking her personal best by 23 seconds. Tiny and petite Poppy Mlambo paced herself well to cross the line in 1:14:27, which was good enough for 40th position and an improvement on her personal best by 14 seconds. Kenyan Mary Keitany won the race in a record time of 1:06:36 while team-mate Philes Ongori (1:07:38) and Ethiopian Aberu Kebede (1:07:39) finished second and third respectively.

Farah Fredericks

Farah Fredericks

South Africa too good for Japan
South Africa turned back a spirited effort from Japan to record a convincing 4-2 victory in their hockey challenge match in Cape Town on Monday. The South Africans played positively from the outset, using their tried and tested tactic of attacking down the flanks which paid dividends when Jennifer Wilson opened the scoring by tapping the ball past goalkeeper Ikuko Okamura.

However, Japan responded with a goal from Mazuki Arai just seconds later, which heralded an intense period of play as both sides pressed for more goals. It was therefore not surprising when Tarryn Bright scored South Africa’s second goal with a powerful shot and home-town girl Farah Fredericks (pictured) added a third two minutes into the second half to make it 3-1 in favour of South Africa. Japan went further behind when Kate Woods scored with a drag-flick from a 57th minute penalty corner.

Confident they had done enough to win, the South Africans abandoned their attacking style of play and became thoroughly defensive minded. Their strategy, although boring, worked as the Japanese failed to close the gap, although they did manage to score a second goal when a deflection from Arai found its way over the line.

Their win means South Africa will play in Pool C in the second stage of the tournament, which will guarantee them a top four placing. They will also carry the points from this match forward to the next stage. In other matches, New Zealand defeated Spain 3-0 and Chile drew 0-0 with Azerbaijan.

Brandon Pieters

Brandon Pieters

Pieters claims third Vodacom Tour victory
Brandon Pieters (pictured) shot a final round 69 for a total of eight under par to win the final tournament on the Vodacom Business Origins of Golf Tour at Simola Golf and Country Estate in Knysna on Friday. The 33-year-old finished one stroke clear of Doug McGuigan and Jaco van Zyl to become only the second golfer to win three tournaments in one year on the Vodacom Tour.

Pieters made some “crucial putts at the right times” to thwart the challenge of Van Zyl who shot a superb final round of 67 and McGuigan, who needed to sink a seven-foot putt on the last hole to force a playoff with the Gauteng resident. However, McGuigan failed with his attempt, giving a very happy Pieters the victory.

“It’s like a dream come true for me. I’ve got a goal before the end of 2011, and I don’t mind making a habit of this. This is a wonderful feeling,” he said. Pieters now joins an exclusive club of three-time winners on the series. The only other player to have won three tournaments in one year on the series is Thomas Aiken in 2004.

The Vodacom Business Origins of Golf Tour is the mainstay of the winter schedule of the Sunshine Tour, and serves as excellent preparation for the main summer schedule, which begins next month.

Top eight finishers (South African unless stated)
208 – Brandon Pieters 70 69 69
209 – Jaco Van Zyl 69 73 67
Doug McGuigan 73 66 70
210 – Tyrone Ferreira 70 71 69
211 – Darren Fichardt 71 72 68
Trevor Fisher Jnr 67 72 72
Andrew Curlewis 69 70 72
Mark Murless 70 68 73

The next tournament on the Sunshine Tour is the BMG Classic, which takes place at the Glendower Golf Club from October 16-18. McGuigan will be hoping to defend his title against a quality field and an enthralling three days play should await spectators.

Photo Credits:
Sharks to face Cheetahs in semis: Photo – Stefan Terblanche; Source – www.zimbio.com
Lions edge Province in Joburg thriller: Photo – Chris Jonck; Source – www.daylife.com
Lame Bafana lose again: Photo – Joel Santana; Source – www.blogs.reuters.com
Buthelezi fails to lift IBF title: Photo – Mthobisi Buthelezi; Source – www.joburgnews.co.za
Puttick turns up the voltage to shock Otago: Photo – Andrew Puttick; Source – www.content.cricinfo.com
CJ sinks Sussex: Photo – CJ de Villiers; Source – www.eaglescricket.co.za
Titans versus Warriors match fails to get going: Photo – Davey Jacobs; Source – www.flickr.com
SA excel in gruelling World Champs: Photo – Stephen Mokoka; Source – cuanruns.wordpress.com
Story title – SA too good for Japan: Photo – Farah Fredericks; Source – www.hokoa.com
Pieters claims third Vodacom Tour victory: Photo – Brandon Pieters; Source – www.life.com

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