South African Sports News – 17 February
Proteas on the ropes in Kolkata
Just when everyone thought the Proteas were back to their winning ways after their convincing innings and six run victory over India in Nagpur last week, a familiar weakness returned to haunt them in the second test at Eden Gardens in Kolkata yesterday. The Proteas found themselves with their backs to the wall on six without loss in their second innings at stumps on day three and have to bat for two full days to save the match after trailing by a mammoth 347 runs on the first innings.
There is certainly no way that Graeme Smith’s men can win this match after a horrendous first innings batting collapse which saw them crash from a promising 218/2 to a dismal 296 all out. It was an all to familiar occurrence for the South Africans who have suffered similar collapses in the past, most recently their meek capitulation against England in last December’s Durban test …
To add insult to injury India responded with a colossal first innings total of 643/6 declared with opener Virendar Sehwag and batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar taking India from a modest 82/2 to a commanding 331/2 before Sehwag was caught by Ashwell Prince off the bowling of part-time spinner JP Duminy for a brilliant 165 off 174 balls. As often happens when a long partnership is broken, Tendulkar (106 off 206 deliveries) followed just four runs later, but South Africa’s hopes of wrapping up the innings were dealt a severe blow by the Indian middle order.
Captain MS Dhoni joined VVS Laxman with the score on 384/6 and the duo soon piled on the agony for the South Africans taking their side past the 400, then 500 and finally the 600 run mark before Dhoni’s declaration shortly before the close of play. It was a brilliant batting display by India with Dhoni and Laxman finishing on 132 and 143 not out respectively to match fellow centurions Tendulkar and Sehwag. Understandably, the Proteas’ bowling figures made for dismal reading although left arm spinner Paul Harris definitely deserved better than his 1/182 off 50 overs.
Proteas’ openers Smith and Alviro Petersen (pictured right) managed to keep their second innings wickets intact before the umpires decided to call a halt to proceedings due to bad light, but the South Africans will have to bat superbly over the remaining two days to save the test. Paceman Zaheer Khan picked up for 4/90 in the visitors’ first innings and was well supported by spinner Harbhajan Singh who ripped the heart out of the Proteas’ middle order with figures of 3/64 off 24 overs.
The Proteas’ first innings collapse was an accident waiting to happen given the perennial inability of Ashwell Prince and Duminy to make runs. Both batsmen are palpably out of form and should be axed from the squad and sent back to their provincial teams where they will hopefully be able to make some decent scores before returning to the national side on merit.
Duminy also made a crucial blunder by dropping Sehwag when the opener was on 47. Had he pouched the straightforward catch at slip off the bowling of Harris, the match could have turned out very differently for the Proteas. However, Duminy spilled a catch that he would usually have caught in his sleep. His poor form with the bat is clearly affecting the other aspects of his game and the selectors will be wise to call time out and replace the youngster before things go from bad to worse.
Negatives aside, the continued improvement of Hashim Amla, who scored 114 off 166 balls in the first innings, and the success of debutant Petersen, who notched up a brilliant 100 off 164 deliveries, was very encouraging and it will be a revelation for South Africa if the pair can go on to repeat their feats in the Proteas’ second innings. And if Smith, the usually dependable Jacques Kallis and the always-dangerous AB De Villiers are able to back them up with some decent contributions, the Proteas could well still salvage a draw from this match.
Blitsbokke finally get it right against Fiji
The Blitsbokke finally overcame their jinx against Fiji to claim a hard fought 12-7 win in the Plate final of the Las Vegas Sevens and give coach Paul Treu some hope for the remainder of the IRB Sevens World series. The Blitsbokke won their first match in five outings against the Fijians and while they might be slightly disappointed in taking the Plate home rather than the Cup, the psychological advantage gained by defeating their erstwhile conquerors will haven given the South Africans a tremendous confidence boost.
The Blitsbokke converted their advantage in possession into points as they scored twice in the opening half, and then held out in the second to secure an excellent victory. They could have in fact won the game by a bigger margin had they not been the victim of poor officiating as a try by Kyle Brown was disallowed even though television replays cleared showed Brown grounding the ball.
However, shortly thereafter Cecil Afrika (pictured) sprinted away from a scrum to score an excellent try, and the Blitsbokke added another minutes later when Frankie Horne dotted down after a strong run. Fiji hit back quickly with a try from Joeli Lutumailagi, but the Boks held on for the win and Treu can now look forward to the upcoming Adelaide and Hong Kong tournaments with the knowledge that his side have shown a marked improvement in form.
Samoa defeated New Zealand 33-12 in the final with a powerful performance, which moved them up to second behind the All Blacks in the 2009/10 World Series standings, just ahead of Fiji in third. New Zealand had earlier beaten the Blitsbokke 12-5 in the quarter-finals. The next round of the series takes place in Adelaide from March 19-21.
Bulls begin Super 14 campaign with a bang
The Bulls made the perfect start to their defence of their Super 14 title on Friday evening when they defeated a spirited Cheetahs outfit 51-34 at Vodacom Park in Bloemfontein and if first impressions are anything to go by, the other Super 14 teams will have a hard time wrestling the title from the Pretoria team this year. Not only did the Bulls emerge from the game with a maximum five-point haul, they also outscored the Cheetahs by six tries to three and outplayed them in all facets of the game.
Jaco Pretorius, Morné Steyn, Zane Kirchner, Gerhard Van Den Heever and Wynand Olivier (pictured centre) all dotted down for the Bulls with referee Jonathan Kaplan also awarding a penalty try to the Pretoria side. The Cheetahs replied with tries from Lionel Mapoe, Jongi Nokwe and Juan Smith, but in the end it wasn’t enough to stave off defeat as the Bulls proved themselves the better team on the night.
The nine try thriller was interrupted by a second half power failure, which left the stadium in darkness and the players sitting around for almost 10 minutes while waiting for the reserve generators to kick in. When they finally did, the match was able to resume, albeit in semi-darkness, as the power supply was only sufficient to activate some of the lights. The untimely interruption proved to be a bad omen for the home side who were still in with a chance at 31-37.
However, when play resumed, the Bulls wrapped up proceedings as they crushed the Cheetahs scrum, claiming the penalty with Fourie du Preez making a dart for the line. Stopped short, the recycled ball sent Olivier over for the fifth try and when the Bulls crushed the Cheetahs scrum once again on their tryline, Kaplan was left with no choice but to award a penalty try.
Despite their defeat the Cheetahs came away from the match with a number of positives. They demonstrated that they can also play fast paced rugby and scored some excellent tries of their own as they matched the Bulls for commitment throughout the game. In fact, the Cheetahs could have possibly won the game had it not been for their poor one on one tackling, which let them down at crucial moments.
Bulls 51 (23) – Tries: Jaco Pretorius, Morné Steyn, Zane Kirchner, Gerhard Van Den Heever, Wynand Olivier, penalty try. Conversions: Steyn (5), Jacques-Louis Potgieter. Penalties: Steyn (3).
Cheetahs 34 (14) – Tries: Lionel Mapoe, Jongi Nokwe, Juan Smith. Conversions: Naas Olivier (2). Penalties: Olivier (5).
Other results (from left to right, SA teams in bold)
Blues 20 – Hurricanes 34
Western Force 15 – Brumbies 24
Over the weekend
Crusaders 32 – Highlanders 17
Reds 28 – Waratahs 30
Lions 13 – Stormers 26
Sharks 18 – Chiefs 19
In upcoming matches an interesting tussle is expected at Newlands on Saturday between the Stormers and the Waratahs after both teams made excellent starts to their campaigns with wins over the Lions and the Reds respectively.
Highlanders vs Blues – Dunedin: 8.35am
Reds vs Crusaders – Brisbane: 11.45am
Sharks vs Cheetahs – Durban: 6.00pm
Lions vs Chiefs – Johannesburg: 8.00pm
Hurricanes vs Western Force – Wellington: 8.35am
Bulls vs Brumbies – Pretoria: 5.05pm
No joy for Sundowns against Santos
Mamelodi Sundowns must have been a very disappointed side after they were held to a goalless draw by Santos at the Super Stadium on Sunday afternoon. ‘Downs will be kicking themselves for being unable to score the goal that would have seen them join SuperSport United at the top of the Absa Premiership, especially since the People’s Team played more than 25 minutes of the match with only 10 men.
The Brazilians’ performance in the first half left much to be desired with Santos looking the better of the two sides. The People’s Team were more creative in attack and also demonstrated a tight defence as the Sundowns attack battled to breach their opponents’ defences. The Brazilians did look good in the very early going, especially when striker Elias Pelembe unleashed a strong shot from the edge of the 18-yard box. Unfortunately for Sundowns, the shot drifted just inches wide of the uprights.
Pelembe’s shot was the only thing the Brazilians had to write home about in the first half as from that point on their defence struggled to cope with the pace and intensity of the Santos attack. Romano Scott in particular put in some good runs down the right flank and whipped in a couple of dangerous crosses into the box which kept Sundowns ‘keeper Brian Baloyi (pictured) very busy. Baloyi was his normal rock solid self in goal and pulled off a brilliant save to deny Erwin Isaacs an almost certain goal in the 13th minute.
Encouraged by their near success Santos continued to press forward in attack, and almost scored the opening goal in the 22nd minute. Isaacs ghosted in behind the Brazilians’ defence following a ball over the top, and as he made his way toward goal, Baloyi moved quickly off his line prompting Isaacs to try and chip over the ‘keeper. However, Baloyi was equal to the task at hand and succeeded in parrying Isaacs’ effort away for a corner.
A few minutes later Santos striker Eleazar Rodgers met a cross from Scott and drove the ball into the back of the net, but the goal was disallowed for offside. ‘Downs were a relieved team when the whistle sounded for half time as they were urgently in need of a break to evaluate proceedings and to determine how they would crack the Santos defence.
The Brazilians opted for a more attacking approach in the second-half, replacing Franklin Cale with Surprise Moriri. However, the substitution failed to produce a goal for ‘Downs, but that looked set to change when Santos were reduced to 10 men in the 64th minute after a dangerous tackle by Bonginkosi Macala on Katlego Mphela.
From that point on Sundowns mounted numerous attacks on the Santos goal, but were unable to penetrate the rock solid defence of the People’s Team. In fact, Santos had the best chance of the half when Mogogi Gabonamangi hit the woodwork in the 81st minute with a rasping shot from 25-yards out. In the final analysis however, both teams’ inability to find the back of the net resulted in them having to be content with sharing the points at the Super Stadium.
Free State Stars 1 – Bidvest Wits 1
Mamelodi Sundowns 1 – Platinum Stars 0
Black Aces 1 – Maritzburg Utd 0
Jomo Cosmos 0 – Bloem Celtic 1
Moroka Swallows 2 – Ajax Cape Town 1
Orlando Pirates 2 – AmaZulu 0
Platinum Stars 0 – Free State Stars 3
Bloem Celtic 2 – Golden Arrows 2
Ajax Cape Town 1 – Jomo Cosmos 0
PSL heads into final week
The 2009/10 Absa Premiership competition draws to a close this week when the final round of league fixtures takes place in stadiums all over the country. Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs (pictured) meet in a huge clash at the Orlando Stadium on Saturday afternoon with an intense struggle expected between these two arch-rivals of South African soccer. Both teams have made excellent recoveries after making poor starts to the season and will be hell bent on victory.
Pirates are currently in fourth place on the log with 42 points while Chiefs are third with 44 – a clear indication that there has been little to separate the two sides all season. The Amakhosi have notched up more victories than Pirates (12 as opposed to 10), but the Buccaneers have lost fewer games (five compared to seven) and have also conceded less goals (15 as opposed to 24) so there will be very little to choose between the two teams on the day. Kick off is at 3.30pm.
AmaZulu vs Free State Stars – Moses Mabhiba Stadium 7.30pm
Platinum Stars vs SuperSport United – Royal Bafokeng Stadium 7.30pm
Maritzburg Utd vs Orlando Pirates – Woodburn Stadium 7.30pm
Kaizer Chiefs vs Black Aces – Loftus Stadium 8.00pm
Mamelodi Sundowns vs Moroka Swallows – Super Stadium 8.00pm
Bidvest Wits vs Santos – Bidvest Stadium 8.00pm
Free State Stars vs Maritzburg Utd – Goble Park: 3.30pm
Santos vs Amazulu – Athlone Stadium: 3.30pm
Black Aces vs Bloem Celtic – Puma Rugby Stadium: 3.30pm
Jomo Cosmos vs Mamelodi Sundowns – Rand Stadium: 3.30pm
SuperSport United vs Bidvest Wits – Super Stadium: 3.30pm
Moroka Swallows vs Platinum Stars – Dobsonville Stadium: 3.30pm
Golden Arrows vs Ajax Cape Town – Chatsworth Stadium: 3.30pm
Orlando Pirates vs Kaizer Cheifs – Orlando Stadium: 3.30pm
Ingram’s blitzkrieg powers Warriors to victory
Colin Ingram (pictured) smashed 82 runs (seven fours and four sixes) off just 52 deliveries to guide the Chevrolet Warriors to a tense five-wicket win over the bizhub Highveld Lions in their Standard Bank Pro20 Series encounter at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on Friday evening. Chasing the Lions’ total of 155/9 the Warriors knocked off the winning runs off the penultimate ball of their innings as they attained 156/5.
The Lions’ innings was built around the efforts of Vaughn van Jaarsveld who contributed a rapid 72 (seven fours and three sixes) off 51 balls to steer his side to their total. The 25-year-old Van Jaarsveld became the eighth wicket to fall when he was caught by a diving Justin Kreusch at deep extra cover off a delivery from paceman Makhaya Ntini.
Van Jaarsveld stabilised the Lions’ innings after they found themselves on a precarious 57/4 and was rather circumspect in scoring just 23 off the first 27 balls that he faced. The powerfully built left-hander then decided to finally hit out with when he clubbed a delivery from medium pacer Kreusch over long-on for a splendid six. Van Jaarsveld then got stuck into left-arm spinner Nicky Boje by smashing him for 16 runs in the 13th over, before reaching his fifty off just 39 deliveries.
The rest of the Lions’ batsmen faired poorly with only Neil Mckenzie (15 runs off 11 balls), Dane Vilas (13 off nine) and Shane Burger (16 not out off 12) able to reach double figures and two needless run outs didn’t help matters either. Ntini and fellow quicks Garnett Kruger and Lyall Meyer each grabbed two wickets with Rusty Theron bagging another.
The visitors made a poor start to their innings and were struggling on 15/2 and then 46/3 before Ingram and Davy Jacobs (32 not out off 30) combined for a fourth-wicket stand that yielded 76 runs to leave them with 62 to get off the last five overs – attainable but no easy task in anyone’s books.
However, the left-handed Ingram went ballistic in the 16th over as he unleashed a furious assault on Werner Coetsee, which saw the off-spinner concede a whooping 25 runs off the over. Ingram was eventually bowled by speedster Ethan O’Reilly in the following over, but Jacobs kept his head to secure victory for the Warriors. It was their third consecutive win in the competition and secured them a place in the semi-finals.
Eagles beat the Dolphins by 13 runs.
Lions beat the Titans by four wickets.
Over the weekend
Cobras beat the Dolphins by 14 runs.
Titans beat the Eagles by nine wickets.
The pick of the week’s upcoming fixtures sees the Warriors up against the Titans at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Sunday. Both teams have already secured themselves a place in the competition semi-finals, but spectators can be rest assured they will not be cheated as both sides always come to win, which is always a recipe for plenty of fireworks.
Cobras vs Eagles – Boland Park, Paarl: 6.00pm
Warriors vs Cobras – St George’s Park, Port Elizabeth: 6.00pm
Lions vs Dolphins – Senwes Park, Potchefstroom: 6.00pm
Eagles vs Lions – OUTsurance Oval, Bloemfontein: 2.30pm
Ho triumphs in Midmar thriller
Twenty-year-old Durbanite Chad Ho (pictured) is the 2010 Halfway Toyota Midmar Mile champion after a nail-biting win on Sunday in arguably the most closely contested race (just 20 seconds separated the top 10 finishers) in the event’s illustrious 37-year history. In a dramatic race on Midmar Dam situated near Howick in the picturesque KwaZulu Natal Midlands, Ho did just enough to edge out Great Britain’s Daniel Fogg to take victory in 18 minutes, 39 seconds with the Brit a second behind in 18:40.
The Cape Town duo of Heerden Herman and Dannie Marias followed Ho closely in the early going along with defending champion Riaan Schoeman, former champion Shaun Dias and the German duo of Alexander Studzinski and Christian Reichert. Schoeman and Studzinski soon passed Herman and Marais and then began to match race leader Ho stroke for stroke. Schoeman actually surged ahead at the 1 200m mark while local boy Myles Brown put in a strong effort to catch the leading group.
With just 200m to go the leading bunch of six swimmers were in an extended line with hardly anything to choose between them. Ho, Studzinski and Fogg responded to another strong surge from Schoeman and coming into the slipway it was the Brit who enjoyed a slight advantage with Ho producing a desperate surge to move up onto his shoulder.
As they entered shallow water both competitors stood up simultaneously for the final sprint up the slipway and it was the South African who thrust himself forward first to clinch his first Midmar Mile title. Schoeman was third in 18:42, just ahead of Studzinski (18:43) and Brown (18:45). The women’s race was won by Keri Ann Payne of Great Britain in a time of 19:24 with Kathryn Meaklim the first South African home in 19:40, which secured her sixth place.
The race attracted over 16 200 entries, surpassing last year’s event, which was officially recorded by the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s largest open-water swimming event. Another record to fall was Saturday’s non-company relay which boasted over 3 500 entrants.