South African Sports News – 17 August
Willem’s boot puts WP back on top
Western Province moved back to top spot on the Currie Cup log when they narrowly defeated the Blue Bulls 15-12 in front of a packed Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday evening. WP were briefly overtaken by the Sharks who thumped the Leopards in Phokeng the previous evening, but Saturday’s win means the Cape outfit move back to the top of the standings with 27 points.
The Sharks are a close second with 26 and both teams now enjoy a comfortable lead over the chasing pack with third placed Griquas six points adrift on 20. WP’s victory also means they remain unbeaten in the competition and although it is still early days yet, Allister Coetzee’s side must certainly be favoured to lift the coveted Currie Cup trophy this season.
The Bulls put up a good fight on Saturday though, and can take heart from their performance. WP dominated the opening 40 minutes, enjoying a glut of possession and running constantly at the Bulls who defended like Trojans to keep their foes at bay. Wave after wave of attacks from the striped jerseys were repelled by the Bulls who put in some crunching tackles at key moments. Springbok fullback Zane Kirchner was particurlarly impressive on defence for the visitors, with one of his many tackles preventing an almost certain five pointer shortly before half time.
WP had moved the ball quickly down the backline and were looking threatening, but an aggressive driving tackle from Kirchner broke up the movement and stopped the danger. So instead of being a whole stack of points down at the interval, the Bulls found themselves only three adrift after WP flyhalf Willem de Waal (pictured) had slotted two penalty kicks to a single effort in reply from opposite number Jacques-Louis Potgieter.
The Bulls’ excellent defence aside, WP also had themselves to blame for not being further in front by repeatedly opting not to take kickable penalties, preferring instead to kick for touch and gain territory. This tactic enabled the Bulls to stay in contention when a couple of three pointers might have put WP out of reach.
The Bulls went on the attack after the restart, clearly intent on taking the fight to the home side who must have still been wondering how they were only three points ahead, despite dominating the lineouts, the scrums and almost every other facet of play in the opening 40 minutes. Potgieter soon levelled the scores with his second penalty after an infrindgement from the home side and at 6-6, it was anyone’s game.
Although the shoe was now on the other foot, with the Bulls launching most of the attacks and WP soaking up the pressure, the unflappable De Waal put his team back in front with his third strike on 52 minutes and increased their lead seven minutes later with another penalty. Potgieter closed the gap to three points with a third penalty on 73 minutes after a sustained period of pressure which saw the visitors push hard for a try. De Waal then frustrated the Bulls with another penalty to put WP six points clear once more only for Potgieter to close the gap again with his fourth strike one minute from regulation time.
The men from Pretoria Accommodation then threw everything they had against their rivals in the closing minutes but WP’s defence held firm to consign the Bulls to their third defeat of the season. The Bulls are now fourth in the standings on 17 points – just two ahead of the fifth paced Cheetahs who suffered a disappointing defeat to the Lions in the earlier Saturday game.
WP square off against the Sharks in a top of the table clash at the Absa Stadium in Durban this coming Saturday while the Bulls host Griquas at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Friday. The Sharks, who have been playing excellent rugby as of late, could well be the first side to defeat WP this season, while the Bulls will have to be at their very best to see off the challenge of the always dangerous Griquas.
Western Province 15 – Penalties: Willem de Waal (5).
Blue Bulls 12 – Penalties: Jacques-Louis Potgieter (4).
Other results (from left to right)
Griquas 58 – Pumas 25
Sharks 51 – Leopards 6
Lions 30 – Cheetahs 26
Friday, August 20
Bulls vs Griquas – Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria – 7pm
Cheetahs vs Leopards – Vodacom Park, Bloemfontein – 7pm
Pumas vs Lions – Puma Stadium, Witbank – 7.10pm
Saturday, August 21
Sharks vs Western Province – The Absa Stadium, Durban – 7.10pm
Currie Cup log (After six rounds)
Pos Team Points
1. WP 27
2. Sharks 26
3. Griquas 20
4. Bulls 17
5. Cheetahs 15
6. Lions 10
7. Pumas 5
8. Leopards 4
Meanwhile, the Springbok squad to face the All Blacks in the historic Vodacom Tri-Nations test in Soweto on Saturday has been announced. The 24-man squad boasts a wealth of experience and New Zealand, despite comfortably defeating the Boks 32-12 and 31-17 in their last two meetings, are likely to be in for a tough time.
The South Africans will be itching to prove their detractors wrong by recording a convincing victory over their traditional rivals from the land of the long white cloud, and playing on home soil in familiar conditions will be a distinct advantage. Whatever happens, the match is likely to be an intense, physical encounter with no quarter asked or given. Kick-off at the FNB stadium is at 5pm.
Backs: Gio Aplon, Juan de Jongh, Jean de Villiers, Bryan Habana, Francois Hougaard, Butch James, Ricky Januarie, Zane Kirchner, Wynand Olivier, JP Pietersen, Morné Steyn.
Forwards: Schalk Burger, Jannie du Plessis, Francois Louw, Victor Matfield, Dewald Potgieter (pictured), Chiliboy Ralepelle, Danie Rossouw, John Smit (captain), Juan Smith, Pierre Spies, Gurthrö Steenkamp, CJ van der Linde, Flip van der Merwe.
Jacobs and Ingram power South Africa to victory
The South African Emerging Players squad cruised to a comfortable 60-run victory over India at the Allan Border Field in Brisbane on Saturday, getting their limited-overs campaign in the Emerging Players Tournament (EPT) off to a perfect start. The competition is played in the 40-over format, which suited the South African players down to a tee after their success in the MTN40 domestic competition this past season.
South Africa notched up a respectable 239 all out in their innings after a shaky start which saw them lose openers Reeza Hendricks (8 runs) and Jon-Jon Smuts (9) early on. Davy Jacobs (pictured), who scored a rapid 79 off 51 balls, and Colin Ingram (71 off 66) put on 104 for the third wicket, while next man in Ryan Bailey weighed in with a useful knock of 33 to take the score to 201/4 with just over 10 overs remaining.
However, once the free-scoring Bailey was back in the pavilion South Africa lost their way somewhat, shedding their six remaining wickets for the addition of just 38 runs. Leg-spinner Piyush Chawla, who was instrumental in mopping up the tail, was the pick of the Indian bowlers, recording impressive figures of 5/57. In reply, India could only muster a paltry 179 all out as the South African bowlers dominated proceedings with Basheer Walters (2/56) and Craig Alexander (2/25) knocking over the top order and the rest of the attack applying the finishing touches.
Chawla scored a useful 44 to go with his five wickets, but his excellent all-round performance was not enough to stave off defeat for India. The South Africans, who finished last in the 20-over competition, will be encouraged by their excellent performance and must now be confident of making it through to the finals of the 40-over competition.
‘Blade Runner’ shatters 400m world record
Oscar Pistorius (pictured) clocked an excellent 47.04 secs over 400m in the T44 disability class at the Diamond League meeting in London on Saturday to smash his own world record. The 23-year-old South African, nicknamed the ‘Blade Runner’ for the carbon fibre prostethics he uses to run, improved his global best by 0.45 secs and beat Paralympic bronze medallist Ian Jones of Great Britain into second place.
The powerful Pistorius established the previous record of 47.49 in winning the Paralympic gold medal in Beijing in 2008. A four-time Paralympic champion, Pistorius set a personal best of 46.02 against able-bodied competition in Italy last month, and again went under 47 secs in the able-bodied B-race in London on Friday night, finishing seventh in 46.93 .
Unfortunately those times cannot be considered for world record purposes because the races were not ratified by the International Paralympic Committee. However, Pistorious’ performance in London easily improved his previous T44 standard as he continues to widen the gap between himself and the rest of the world in his class. “A world record is always a good thing to finish the season off on,” Pistorius said. “I learned a lot from Friday’s race where the rainy conditions were not what I am used to,” he added.
Pistorius’ compatriot, World Championships 1500m semi-finalist Peter van der Westhuizen, had a disappointing outing in the men’s mile on Saturday, falling more than 10 secs short of his personal best. The 25-year-old finished 13th and last in 4 min, 5.52 secs with Kenyan Augustine Choge taking first place in a personal best of 3:50.14.
Another South African, Commonwealth 400m hurdles champion LJ van Zyl, was also well below his best, finishing eighth and last in his event on Friday in a slow 50.64 secs. Van Zyl finished 2.52 secs behind American Bershawn Jackson who claimed victory in 48.12. The next Diamond League meeting, the penultimate leg of 14 this season, will take place in Zurich on Thursday.
Mokoka wins SA champs while Khumalo conquers the Climb
Defending champion Stephen Mokoka (pictured) and Irvette van Blerk made full use of a fast route and ideal weather conditions to entertain the crowd en route to victory in the South African 10km Championships in Paarl on Saturday. Gauteng North’s Mokoka, who captured the national title last year in Stellenbosch, clocked 28 min, 23 secs to beat off Lungisa Mdedelwa of Athletics Transkei (28:28) and Central Gauteng’s Sibusiso Nzima (28:29).
“I came to Paarl with the aim of defending my title and getting my hands on the R50 000 financial incentive on offer for dipping under the 28:06 mark. But our leading group of about 15 athletes went through the halfway mark in 14:31 which was too slow,” said Mokoka who will now switch focus to the international scene when he competes in 10km races in Prague and the UK next month.
Van Blerk added the national 10km women’s crown to the South African half-marathon title which she claimed in Port Elizabeth last month. The Central Gauteng athlete clocked 33:15 to take first place ahead of Western Province’s Zintle Xiniwe (33:19) and Thozama April of Gauteng North (33:53).
“I saw Xiniwe starting to slack off in the final kilometre and dug deep into my energy reserves to catch up with her before sprinting home,” said Van Blerk. “The hill on the way to the stadium really took a lot out of me and I thought I was never going to get to the top of it, but I am just so delighted to get the win here today,” she added.
Meanwhile, Mr Price Athletic Club athlete Prodical Khumalo (pictured) won the annual Witness Capital Climb road race in Pietermaritzburg on Saturday, covering the 15km distance in 50:45. Another Mr Price runner, Professor Mollen, took second spot in 51:17 while Sbonelo Duma of Boxer Athletic Club was third in 51:17. Sarah Gray won the women’s race in 1:07:53.
The punishing course comprises a tortuous 6km climb followed by a 9km downhill to the finish and is not for the faint hearted. “I knew I was going to win the race at the 5km mark,” said Khumalo who hails from Marian Ridge in Durban. “I trained hard for this event, doing most of my preparation in the hills surrounding Durban,” he added.
Khumalo, who has personal bests of 45:00 for 15km, 2:16:00 for 42,2km and who finished 11th in this year’s Comrades Marathon, was hoping to break the race record of 49:02 set by Eric Biyase in 1998, but ended up a little short of that mark. “This is the first time I have competed in this event and the uphill section was quite tough, but I will be back to defend my title next year,” he confirmed.
Yours truly, a regular runner of the race for the past 13 years, clocked a personal worst of 2:03:50 and must concede that at 37, his best running days are far behind him. Oh well, what can you expect from a part-timer with a penchant for chocalates and french fries – two foodstuffs you are aren’t likely to find on the menu of any serious athlete.
Hekkie fails to impress in Texas
International Boxing Organisation (IBO) light-flyweight champion Hekkie ‘The Hexecutioner’ Budler (pictured right) remained unbeaten when he defeated Evaristo Primero on a split decision in a 10-round non-title bout title in Laredo, Texas, on Saturday night. The 22-year-old Budler, who made two trips to the canvas from illegal low blows, appeared fortunate to get the decision with one judge scoring the contest 97-93 for Primero and the other two handing in cards of 96-94 and 98-92 for the South African.
The 33-year-old Primero, who was born in Mexico but lives in El Paso, Texas, started quickly and landed several overhand rights to Budler’s head. The busier Primero was marginally ahead after seven rounds, but Budler increased his workrate through the eighth and ninth stanza’s to possibly take the rounds only for Primero to have a strong tenth.
However, the judges decided that Budler had done enough to secure victory although the 98-92 verdict was totally unjustifiable. Nevertheless the end result was another win for ‘The Hexecutioner’ who moved his record to 17-0 with five knockouts while Primero, who has not won a fight for nearly nine years, dropped to 14-14-1 (7 KO’s).
Budler missed a golden opportunity to impress in a televised bout that was meant to showcase his talents to a wider American audience. However, perhaps the Johannesburg resident needed more time in Texas to prepare for the fight and had taken his opponent too lightly. Whatever the reason, Budler will have to try and ensure this kind of thing doesn’t happen to him again if he wants to progress in his boxing career.
Meanwhile, the International Boxing Federation (IBF) junior lightweight title fight between local pugilists Cassius ‘Mr Shy Guy’ Baloyi (37-4-1; 19 KO’s) and Mzonke ‘The Rose of Khayelitsha’ Fana (29-4; 12 KO’s) has been rescheduled for a second time. The 12-round contest will now take place on Wednesday, September 1 at Carnival City in Brakpan.
In another IBF title fight on the Branco Sports Productions bill, local boxer Moruti Mthalane will defend his flyweight crown against compatriot Zolani Tete. The more experienced Mthalane boasts a record of 25-2 (16 KO’s) but will have his work cut out for him against the undefeated Tete who has won 13 straight fights, 11 of them by knockout.