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Posted on: Wednesday, 17 March 2010

South African Sports News – 17 March

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Kermit Erasmus

Kermit Erasmus

Two wins and a draw for Bafana
Bafana Bafana’s month long training camp in Brazil is going well. The national side got in some much needed match practice against local teams over the last couple of days playing to a goalless draw against Volta Redonda on Saturday, trouncing Fluminese 8-0 on Sunday and then defeating Boavista 3-0 on Monday.

Bafana’s goals against Fluminese came in the form of braces from Siphiwe Tshabalala and Kermit Erasmus (pictured) with Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Tlou Segolela, Richard Henyekane and Dylon Claasen also getting in on the action with a goal apiece. The matches were played at the Granja Comary in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where Bafana are holding their camp.

In the match against Volta Redonda, Bafana head coach Carlos Alberto Parreira used two sets of teams for each half – giving virtually every player a chance to play. The match came after an intensive week of training since the squad’s arrival in Brazil last Tuesday. Midfielder Teko Modise captained the first half team, while defender Matthew Booth led the second half side.

The South Africans had the better of the exchanges and should have won the game, but Franklin Cale failed to convert a penalty in the 65th minute after a Volta Redonda player was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box. However, instead of finding the back of the Net, Cale only succeeded in blasting the ball over the crossbar.

“Today was not really about winning at all costs. We are really working on perfecting our shape; getting a system going and implementing the things we have been trying out with the coach this week. This game was a good start for us and over the next few games we will end up where we want to be, it takes time but we have to keep on working hard until we get it right,” explained striker Katlego Mphela.

Although it is of some concern that Bafana can somehow fail to score against a side as lightly regarded as Volta Redonda the results against Fluminense and Boavista were encouraging and seem to suggest that the South Africans are moving in the right direction. Bafana play some more warm up games when they take on local sides Cruzeiro today and Botafogo on Saturday.

Meanwhile, in domestic action that took place over the weekend, Golden Arrows, Orlando Pirates, Ajax Cape Town and SuperSport United all advanced to the quarter-finals of the Telkom Knockout Cup. Arrows edged past Platinum Stars 2-1 at the Charles Mopeli Stadium on Saturday while Pirates squeaked home 1-0 against Bloemfontein Celtic at the Orlando Stadium just a few hours later.

In Sunday encounters, Ajax narrowly defeated Moroka Swallows 1-0 at Newlands Stadium while SuperSport thrashed Black Aces 5-1 at the Puma Rugby Stadium to power their way into the last eight. It was a welcome return to form for the Professional Soccer League (PSL) champions who lost their last two league outings of the season.

In other Telkom Knockout matches this weekend AmaZulu pit their skills against Maritzburg United at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, Wits square off against Jomo Cosmos at the Bidvest Stadium, Santos face the mighty Kaizer Chiefs at Newlands Stadium while Free State Stars do battle with Mamelodi Sundowns at the Charles Mopeli Stadium. The winners of each game will join Arrows, Pirates, Ajax and SuperSport in the quarter-finals.

Mark Boucher

Mark Boucher

Warriors wallop Lions to clinch title
The Chevrolet Warriors crushed the bizhub Highveld Lions by 82 runs to clinch the Standard Bank Pro20 title at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth on Friday evening. It was a very one-sided final with the home side dominating proceedings from start to finish.

The Warriors took full advantage of winning the toss by electing to bat on the easy paced wicket and were soon reaping the rewards of their wise decision as openers Jacques Kallis and Ashwell Prince got stuck into the Lions’ bowling. Kallis and Prince showed their class as they put on an excellent partnership of 129 before the left-handed Prince was bowled by seamer Shane Burger with his score on 69 (54 balls). Prince’s valuable knock included nine fours and two sixes and was his first Pro20 fifty.

Kallis’ innings was a little more circumspect, but the Proteas stalwart was nevertheless in top form notching up his half century off 45 deliveries before skying a delivery from seamer Robbie Frylinck to Neil McKenzie at point. Kallis’ contribution was 55 (47 balls) and included six fours and a six.

With the total on 156/2 and only 11 balls remaining the Lions were hoping to restrict the Warriors to 170 or below but their hopes were dashed by the brutal hitting of Proteas wicketkeeper Mark Boucher (pictured) who raced to 27 not out off just eight balls. Boucher’s innings included four huge sixes in the final over (bowled by the hapless Zander de Bruyn) to steer the Warriors to a daunting 186/2 off their 20 overs.

The Lions made a positive enough start to their innings with openers Jonathan Vandiar and Neil McKenzie scoring at just over a run a ball, but when McKenzie (five) had his stumps disturbed by Makhaya Ntini with the total on just 19, one sensed that this wasn’t going to be the Lions’ night. And that’s exactly what happened as the Gauteng outfit lost wickets at regular intervals to finish on a dismal 104 all out, giving the Warriors a memorable 82 run victory and their second domestic trophy of the season after they won the MTN40 championship in January.

Spinners Johan Botha (2/17 off four overs) and Nicky Boje (2/15 off four overs) were a thorn in the side of the Lions batsmen and were well supported by Ntini (2/28 off three overs), Rusty Theron (2/22 off 2.5 overs) and Wayne Parnell (1/10 off three overs) as the Warriors never relinquished their grip on the match. The top score in the Lions’ innings was a paltry 15 with Richard Cameron, Frylinck and Vaughn van Jaarsveld all reaching the figure.

The Warriors thoroughly deserved their victory as they comprehensively outplayed the Lions in all facets of the game although truth be told it was a rather predictable result when one considers the home side were the overwhelming favourites going into the match.

Scores in brief
Warriors: 186/2
Lions: 104 all out
Result: Warriors won by 82 runs
Man of the match: Ashwell Prince/Nicky Boje

Gerhard van der Heever

Gerhard van der Heever

Bulls keep marching on
The Vodacom Bulls returned to the top of the Super 14 log with an impressive 50-35 victory over the Highlanders at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday afternoon. The defending Super 14 champions were in excellent attacking form as they notched up their third fifty-point haul in four games and extended their winning run in Super 14 matches at Loftus to 14 consecutive games.

The Bulls made the perfect start against a jaded looking Highlanders side as they struck early and earned their bonus point after only 26 minutes. Even though the score-line was respectable, the Highlanders were always playing catch-up after going behind early, and the result was never in doubt.

The Bulls opened their account in the fourth minute when hooker Gary Botha strolled over the line in the corner and three minutes later left wing Francois Hougaard went over almost in the exact same place as he too found the gap on the outside without any resistance. Right wing Gerhard van der Heever (pictured left) then got in on the action with what could arguably be the best try of the competition thus far.

The Highlanders managed to fight their way into the home side’s 22m area, only to loose possession going forward. The ball was quickly sent wide to the fleet-footed Van der Heever who jinked inside, and then outside to find a gap and outpace four Highlander defenders over 70m for a brilliant individual try.

Van der Heever’s stunning score looked like being the precursor to the opening of the floodgates, but ironically it was the Highlanders who scored next when fullback Israel Dagg capitalised on a Bulls backline error to sprint 40m and dot down. Undeterred by their sudden lapse in concentration the Bulls claimed the bonus point try shortly afterwards when Zane Kirchner’s kick and chase was lost by Dagg, snatched up by Dewald Potgieter and sent wide to centre Wynand Olivier who dived in at the corner.

Pierre Spies got his first try after 30 minutes as another ball was lost out of the air and this time Stephan Dippenaar picked up and passed inside for the towering No 8 to dot down under the posts. The hard working Dagg got his second just before the interval as a simple scissor movement deceived the Bulls defence and kept the Hurricanes hopes alive.

The Bulls decided to change tactics in the second half as they found themselves up against a rejuvenated Highlanders side striving for the bonus point. Tries by Tim Boys and Robbie Robinson kept the scoreboard ticking for the visitors and when Dagg got his hat trick from a quick tap penalty late in the game the Highlanders had something to talk about on their long journey back home. However, by that stage the Bulls had already notched up their half century with Hougaard and Spies going over for further tries to make the final score 50-35 in favour of the home side.

With only one game left to play before they begin their overseas tour, the Bulls are now one point clear of the Vodacom Stormers at the top of the log and can head overseas with a perfect score of 25 points from five games if they defeat the Hurricanes at Loftus on Friday night. The way the men in blue are playing at the moment there is no reason to doubt that they will get the better of the eighth placed Canes who were thumped 37-13 by the high riding Stormers at Newlands on Saturday evening.

Bulls 50 – Tries: Gary Botha, Francois Hougaard (2), Gerhard van den Heever, Wynand Olivier, Pierre Spies (2). Coversions: Morne Steyn (6). Penalty: Steyn.
Highlanders 35 – Tries: Israel Dagg (3), Tim Boys, Robbie Robinson. Conversions: Matthew Berquist (3), Dagg (2).

Results (from left to right; SA teams in bold)
Chiefs 19 – Crusaders 26 – Hamilton
Waratahs 73 Lions 12 – Sydney
Brumbies 24  Sharks 22 Canberra
Bulls 50 Highlanders 35 Loftus Versveld, Pretoria
Stormers 37 Hurricanes 13 Newlands, Cape Town
Reds 50 Western Force 10 Brisbane

This year’s Super 14 has been a highly successful one thus far for the Stormers and the Bulls although the same cannot be said for the other competing South African teams. The Cheetahs (two wins from four games), Sharks and the Lions (both without victories after five games) are all struggling and will be desperate for wins this weekend.

The Cheetahs take on the Stormers at Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday afternoon and will be confident of upsetting their more fancied rivals despite the homes side’s strong form this season. The Free Staters are a dangerous outfit with a excellent pack of forwards and a backline packed with speedsters and will fancy their chances of putting one over the Stormers who showed they are by no means invincible at home after going down 19-17 to the Brumbies last month.

Upcoming fixtures (SA teams in bold)
Blues vs Brumbies – Auckland: 08.35am
Bulls vs Hurricanes – Loftus Versveld, Pretoria: 07.10pm
Crusaders vs Lions Christchurch: 06.30am
Highlanders vs Sharks Dunedin: 08.35am
Western Force vs Waratahs Perth: 01.10pm
Stormers vs Cheetahs Newlands, Cape Town: 05.05pm

Ernie Els

Ernie Els

Ernie ends long drought
Ernie Els (pictured) finally managed to win a professional golf tournament after two years of trying when he defeated countrymen Charl Schwartzel by four strokes to take honours in the $8.5m (R62.56m) WGC-CA Championship in Miami, Florida on Sunday. The 40-year-old Els shot an 18-under 270 as opposed to Schwartzel’s 14-under 274 to clinch his first victory since the 2008 Honda Classic.

“This means so much. I didn’t think it was ever going to happen again,” Els said after shooting a bogey-free, six-under-par 66 final round to end his long victory drought. Els and Schwartzel turned the World Golf Championships (WGC) event into an all South African shoot-out in windy conditions at Doral’s Blue Monster.

The duo started the final round dead even and although Els never once trailed his younger countrymen, he took a long time to gain the ascendancy (the pair were still level with only eight holes remaining) and apply the finishing touches to secure victory. In the final assessment it was the 14th hole that proved to be the key as Els sank a 25-foot par-saving putt to retain a one-shot lead before pulling away over the remaining holes to clinch the win.

Although Schwartzel played exceptionally well over the four days, his final round 70 was just not good enough to beat Els who collected $1.4m (R10.3m) for his second WGC victory and 17th on the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) Tour. Irishman Padraig Harrington, German Martin Kaymer and American Matt Kuchar tied for third spot, a further three shots back on an 11-under 277.

The 25-year-old Schwartzel, who was a houseguest at Els’ Florida estate last week and will be again this week, seemed satisfied with second. “It just shows me I can play against the best in the world. All credit to Ernie. He played flawless golf. Both of us gave it our all. He just played a bit better,” remarked Schwartzel.

Els now has his sights firmly set on next month’s Masters. The South African ace has won three majors, but never at Augusta, where he has come close to claiming a green jacket more often than he cares to remember. “Next week I’m going to work hard again,” said Els. “I’ve got to get these things I’m working on drilled a bit more and be really comfortable with it and get my ball flight drilled for Augusta. But you know, two years ago when I won (the Honda Classic) I got all carried away and thought I was going to win Augusta,” he added.

There will be no bold predictions this time. Instead, Els will let his clubs do the talking as he prepares to do battle with the cream of the world’s golfers in one of the world’s most prestigious tournaments.

Top 10 finishers (US unless stated)
270 – Ernie Els (RSA) 68-66-70-66
274 – Charl Schwartzel (RSA) 67-70-67-70
277 – Matt Kuchar 71-71-67-68, Martin Kaymer (GER) 70-72-69-66, Padraig Harrington (IRL) 70-68-67-72
278 – Alistair Presnell (AUS) 72-70-72-64, Alvaro Quiros (ESP)
72-69-69-68, Graeme McDowell (NIR) 74-68-70-66, Paul Casey (GBR) 69-72-68-69, Bill Haas 71-66-70-71

Malcolm Lange

Malcolm Lange

Lange clinches Argus in sprint finish
Team Medscheme’s Malcolm Lange (pictured) won his third Cape Argus Cycle Tour after out-sprinting a high-quality breakaway group to win the prestigious 109km event in Cape Town on Sunday. The 36-year-old Lange’s other Argus victorious came in 1998 and 2003 and it was his 407th win in a career spanning 19 years. South African champion Christoff van Heerden (MTN Energade) finished second while Daryl Impey (Team Radioshack) was third.

The breakaway group of 12 riders, which included seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong (Team Radioshack), moved clear of the peloton shortly before the climb of Chapman’s Peak Drive with 36km to go. Lange’s Medscheme team rode a clever, tactical race, forcing the front group to split in the strong crosswinds and getting Lange, Johann Rabie and Nicholas White into the break along with nine other riders.

“That was our pre-race plan. We decided to use the wind to our advantage and try and split the race up just before Chapman’s Peak. I know that my chances of winning are best from a small group and that suited us perfectly,” explained Lange afterwards.

Joining the Medscheme trio in the break were David George, Rene Hasselbacher (both safindit), Dean Edwards, Tiaan Kannemeyer (both House of Paint), Armstrong, Impey (both Team Radioshack), Burry Stander (Team Specialised), Bjorn Glasner (Team Kuota) and Van Heerden (MTN Energade).

As the break reached the final kilometre, the 38-year-old Armstrong attacked strongly, but the strength of the headwind blunted the Tour de France legend’s efforts. Edwards, a potent track sprinter, then sprinted his way into the lead, but he made his move a tad too soon and Lange moved out from his slipstream with 150m to go to snatch victory by more than a bike length in two hrs, 39 min and 55 sec.

“I was inspired to win today. Our teammate, Arran Brown, won last year and is out injured, so we really wanted to defend the title for the team,” said Lange. “I owe this win to my team. They were brilliant and we rode a tactically perfect race,” added the champion.

The Argus is the world’s largest cycle race and attracted around 35 000 participants on Sunday.

Top 10 finishers (SA riders unless stated)

  1. Malcolm Lange – Team Medscheme 2hrs, 39min, 55sec
  2. Christoff van Heerden – MTN Energade
  3. Daryl Impey – Team Radioshack
  4. Burry Stander – Team Specialised
  5. Rene Hasselbacher  (AUT) – Team sainfo
  6. Dean Edwards – House of Paint
  7. Bjorn Glasner  (GER) – Team Kuota
  8. Johann Rabie – Team Medscheme
  9. Lance Armstrong  (USA) – Team Radioshack
  10. Nicholas White – Team Medscheme

(All top 10 finishers were credited with the same time)

SA finish tenth after loss to Black Sticks
New Zealand clinched a ninth place finish at the Men’s field Hockey World Cup in Delhi after defeating a courageous South Africa in a high-scoring nail-biter, which ended in a penalty shoot-out. The Black Sticks, trailing 3-4 till the final minute of regulation play, equalised in the last second when Andrew Hayward scored his third penalty corner goal of the match.

Both teams failed to break the deadlock in 15 minutes of extra-time and New Zealand won the shoot-out 5-4 with captain Dean Couzins firing in the crucial ninth goal. New Zealand finished eighth in the last World Cup, while South Africa improved two places from their 12th position in the same tournament.

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