Weekly Sports Wrap, South African sports news – 28 September
Lions keep Currie Cup hopes alive in six-try thriller
The Lions continued their recent run of good form in this year’s Absa Currie Cup to run out narrow 22-20 winners over log leaders the Sharks at Coca-Cola Park Stadium in Johannesburg on Saturday evening. Lions captain Franco van der Merwe (pictured) scored a 79th minute try to bring the sides level and flyhalf Elton Jantjies made no mistake with the conversion to give the Lions their seventh win of the season from 12 starts.
Some will consider the Lions fortunate to have emerged victorious given that television replays appeared to show Van der Merwe short of the line, but to be fair the Sharks also benefited from an official’s error when assistant referee Christi du Preez missed Lwazi Mvovo’s foot on the touch line for his second try …
In Du Preez’s defence, his vision was obscured by a diving Jannie Boshoff, and the try was awarded. Still, both incidents may overshadow the result, but they shouldn’t detract from an exciting game of rugby which demonstrated the best of the Currie Cup and had the result in the balance throughout.
The visitors got off to a dream start when they drew in the Lions’ defence on the first attack, adding an extra player on the left hand flank to put wing Mvovo away for his first score. The home side then lost hooker Martin Bezuidenhout in the aftermath after he was spotted throwing a punch leaving referee Jason Japhta no choice but to produce a yellow card.
However, the Lions went in front with an impressive long-range try by centre Jaco Taute after a mistake on attack by the Sharks. Andries Strauss failed to hold onto a pass from eighthman Ryan Kankowski and Doppies le Roux took the ball up 30 metres before sending the pacy Taute up the middle to score under the posts.
Jantjies slotted the conversion to go with an earlier penalty and the home side were now 10-5 to the good with just a few minutes till the interval. However, the elusive Mvovo put his team level in the 38th minute with his second, albeit controversial, five pointer and the teams went into the interval with it all to play for in the remaining 40 minutes.
The Lions lost try scorer Taute early in the second half as he walked off with his arm in a sling, but they extended their lead shortly thereafter when Jantjies put Waylon Murray (pictured left) into enough space for the big centre to crash over the line. The Sharks hit back minutes later when right wing Odwa Ndungane dotted down in the far right hand corner for a converted try and when flyhalf Patrick Lambie slotted a penalty shortly thereafter it looked as though the visitors were heading for their 10th win of the season.
However, as fate would have it, Kankowski tramped on a Lion’s players chest with just five minutes to go prompting Japhta to immediately produce a yellow card. The normally unflappable No 8’s moment of madness cost his team his services for the remainder of the match and with the visitors now reduced to 14 men, the Lions threw everything they had into attack. They were soon rewarded when Van der Merwe crashed over to keep their Currie Cup hopes alive.
Both teams gave it their all in an intensely physical battle and the match was a good example of just how little there is to choose between the top six teams in this year’s competition. The win kept the Lions’ hopes of making it through to the semi-finals alive, but they will have to win their remaining games against the Cheetahs on Saturday and the Pumas the following Friday to do so.
“Today was make or break for us and I’m very glad we came through. There’s a lot of character in this team and I think we are going to go places,” said a clearly elated Van der Merwe during the post match interviews. Indeed, the Lions are without a doubt one of the form teams in the competition at the moment, and it would be nice to see them qualify for the semi-finals after a dreadful Super 14 campaign where they were unable to register a single win.
Lions 22 – Tries: Jaco Taute, Waylon Murray and Franco van der Merwe. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (2). Penalty: Jantjies.
Sharks 20 – Tries: Lwazi Mvovo (2) and Odwa Ndungane. Conversions: Patrick Lambie. Penalty: Lambie.
Other results (from left to right)
Cheetahs 59 – Pumas 24 – Vodacom Park, Bloemfontein
Western Province 48 – Griquas 32 – Newlands Stadium, Cape Town
Bulls 39 – Leopards 26 – Profert Olen Park, Potchefstroom
Currie Cup log (After 12 games)
Pos Team Pts
1. Sharks 47
2. WP 43
3. Bulls 38
4. Cheetahs 37
5. Lions 35
6. Griquas 31
7. Pumas 17
8. Leopards 5
Mashego puts Pirates into final
Orlando Pirates notched up their first win over arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs in a domestic cup competition in over 12 years when they dispatched the Amakhosi 1-0 at the FNB Stadium in an MTN8 semi-final second leg game to take the tie 2-1 on aggregate after the teams had played to a 1-1 draw in their first leg encounter two weeks ago.
In a match where both teams had chances to win, it was Katlego Mashego (pictured), on as a second half substitute for Pirates, who ended up scoring the winner in the 81st minute to send the Buccaneers through to the final. Chiefs’ best opportunity to score came in the 57th minute when Mthokozisi Yende struck the Pirates cross bar.
The Buccaneers troubled Chiefs early on and had a number of chances before Happy Jele fired a shot at goal which whistled past ‘keeper Itumeleng Khune in the seventh minute. Shortly thereafter Ezenwa Otorogu shot wide with another effort at goal.
Chiefs’ first attempt on goal was a long range effort from Reneilwe Letsholonyane in the 14th minute, but instead of going for goal, the Chiefs midfielder should have passed the ball to the unmarked Jimmy Tau who had space to his right. The powerful Otorogu was able to create two opportunites for his team in the 20th minute when he first managed to find Isaac Chansa, who fired the ball straight at Khune from 18 yards.
A few seconds later Otorogu controlled a long ball from Pirates ‘keeper Moeneeb Josephs before laying it off from the right to Daine Klate whose effort on goal failed to trouble Khune. Some good all round work from Chiefs saw Mandla Masango find Siphiwe Tshabalala in the 24th minute with a ball along the ground from the left which the Bafana Bafana international fired goal-ward. A surprised Josephs only managed to block the ball, but was bailed out by Klate, who cleared the rebound.
The final action of the opening half saw Khune punch clear Dikgang Mabalane’s free kick from the left and with the score 0-0 at the interval both sides had it all to play for going into the final 45 minutes. Chiefs went on the offensive early in the second half and in the 51st minute Khune’s long kick from the back went over the Pirates defenders. Knowledge Musona then ran onto the ball, but his lob over Josephs failed to find the back of the net.
Six minutes later a shot from Masango was deflected and the ball fell to Yende who unleashed a powerful volley which beat Josephs only to crash against the crossbar. Musona and Sthembiso Ngcobo then blew goal-scoring opportunities within the space of a few minutes before Pirates struck a decisive blow.
A cross by Mark Mayambela went under Dominic Isaacs and hit Mashego before beating Khune at his far post, putting the Buccaneers in front with just nine minutes to go. Pirates had the opportunity to seal the match when they were awarded a penalty after Nahayo had held back Tlou Segolela, but Rooi Mahamutsa fired his spot kick over the bar in the 87th minute.
However, the miss did not prove costly as Pirates held on for the victory and booked their place in Saturday’s final where they will meet Soweto rivals Moroka Swallows at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. The Birds qualified for the final with a 3-2 victory over Ajax Cape Town on Saturday giving them a 3-2 advantage on aggregate after the teams played to a goalless draw two weeks ago.
Other results (Absa Premiership)
Golden Arrows 2 – Free State Stars 0 – Chatsworth Stadium
Santos 0 – Mamelodi Sundowns 1 – Athlone Stadium
Bloem Celtic 2 – Maritzburg Utd 0 – Seisa Ramabodu Stadium
Platinum Stars 2 – AmaZulu 2 – Royal Bafokeng Stadium
Vasco Da Gama 2 – Wits 0 – Bellville Stadium
Spin duo lead Chennai to Champions League T20 title
Some brilliant bowling from Ravichandran Ashwin (2/16 off four overs) and Sri Lankan legend Muttiah Muralitharan (3/16 off four overs) led the Chennai Super Kings to a comfortable eight wicket victory over the Chevrolet Warriors in the Champions League T20 final at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on Sunday. Off-spinners Ashwin and Muralitharan snared a combined 5/32 in eight overs, stalling the Warriors innings and restricting the Eastern Cape outfit to 128/7 in their 20 overs.
Chennai openers Michael Hussey and Murali Vijay then gave their team the perfect platform for victory with a first wicket partnership of 103 in 14.5 overs. Vijay was the driving force in the partnership, slamming six fours and two sixes in his 58 off 53 balls, before he was caught by Justin Kreusch off the bowling of left-arm spinner Nicky Boje. The less flamboyant Hussey finished with an unbeaten 51 off 46 deliveries.
Realising that the Warriors’ only chance of defending such a small total was by taking wickets, captain Davey Jacobs (pictured) used former Proteas paceman Makhaya Ntini with the new ball, but Vijay struck him for three fours in his two overs up front and Chennai had the start they wanted. Ntini managed to dismiss Suresh Raina for two when he returned in the 16th over, but is was only a temporary reprieve as Mahendra Singh Dhoni took Chennai to victory with two fours and a six in his unbeaten 17.
Ashwin and Muralitharan had earlier put a stranglehold on the Warriors batting as the South African Pro20 champions could only muster a measly 128 runs. The Warriors had made a good start after winning the toss and batting, racing to 44/1 after five overs. However, Ashwin swung the momentum Chennai’s way as he dismissed the dangerous Jacobs, trapping him leg-before after the 27-year-old missed a reverse-pull.
Jacobs had once again looked in terrific form, as he raced to 34 off 21 balls, with eight fours, but his departure allowed Chennai to demonstrate the depth and balance of their attack. Colin Ingram (16 off 23 balls) and Justin Kreusch (17 off 17) struggled to score quickly and when Ingram fell in the 11th over, skying a hook off Albie Morkel to deep backward square-leg, the Warriors were tottering on 73/3.
Muralitharan came on and started to wreck havoc as he bowled Boucher (5 off 11) and then had Kreusch caught by Raina to leave the Warriors in disarray on 82/5. Craig Thyssen (25 off 18) then gave the Warriors’ innings a semblance of respectability when he smashed three fours and a six off 18 balls, but it was never going to be enough against the powerful Chennai batting line up.
Results leading up to the final (SA teams in bold)
South Australian Redbacks beat Guyana by 15 runs
Royal Challengers Bangalore beat the Bizhub Highveld Lions by six wickets
Wayamba Elevens beat the Central Stags by 74 runs
Chennai Super Kings beat the Chevrolet Warriors by 10 runs
Friday (First semi-final)
Chennai Super Kings beat the Royal Challengers Bangalore by 52 runs (Duckworth/Lewis method)
Saturday (Second semi-final)
Chevrolet Warriors beat the South Australian Redbacks by 30 runs
Sifama and Mpambanyeni truimph in SA title fights
Xola Sifama successfully retained his South African flyweight title when he stopped challenger Wele Yokose in an action packed fight at the Mdantsane Indoor Sports Centre on Sunday night. Sifama unleashed a flurry of blows on his courageous foe in the 11th round, knocking the challenger down twice before the referee halted proceedings.
The more experienced Sifama was always in control against the younger Yokose, landing a number of powerful blows early on and backing up his opponent. The challenger would have been better advised to box and move rather than to stand toe to toe with his stronger opponent. However, the Mdantsane southpaw chose to slug it out with Sifama and eventually paid the price for his bravado as he wilted under the pressure in the 11th round.
Yokose started on the back foot against the champion but gained momentum, landing a number of solid blows on the champion. However, Sifama remained composed under pressure and held on to his opponent whenever the going got tough. The champion also counter punched very effectively and in the 10th round there were signs that an inside the distance win was just around the corner.
Those signs did not prove to be misleading as Yokose hit the deck a few minutes into the next round and although he managed to beat the count, it was ultimately in vain as he promptly made another trip to the canvas after a further onslaught from the now rabid champion. The victory was Sifama’s eighth as a professional against two losses and a draw with five of those wins coming via the short route. Yokose suffered his first defeat in the paid ranks as he fell to 3-1 (2 KO’s).
In another South African title fight held over the weekend, Khaphathe Mpambanyeni won the vacant middleweight belt at Strandville near Durban on Saturday when he stopped Mthokozisi Malinga in the fifth round of a one-sided contest. Mpambanyeni, who originally hails from the Limpopo Province but is now based in Gauteng and trained by Nic Durandt, came out firing at the bell and soon had his opponent in trouble.
The older Malinga made two trips to the canvas in the first round and another in the second courtesy of some big right hands and although he managed to survive rounds three and four, the referee decided he had seen enough and stepped in to save Malinga from further punishment midway through the next round. Mpambanyeni improved his record to 6-1 (6 KO’s) while Malinga fell to 8-4-1 (1 KO).
The title became vacant when Peter Mashamaite was unable to defend it after committing himself to a more lucrative fight for the vacant World Boxing Organisation (WBO) Africa middleweight title. The tournament was presented by Ludonga Promotions.
Meanwhile, it was announced on Thursday that unbeaten heavyweight prospect Flo ‘The Demolition Man’ Simba will do battle with Hugo Abad from Equador at Emperor’s Palace in Kempton Park on November 6. The 20-year-old Simba, who was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo but has lived most of his life in South Africa, has won seven consecutive fights since turning professional in October last year.
However, he has faced moderate opposition at best and it will be interesting to see how he fairs against the more experienced Abad who has won 20 fights against seven losses and a single draw. The 35-year Abad has been punching for pay since July 1993 and his experience may prove to a stumbling block for Simba, who has a tendency to leave himself open to counter punches when on attack.
Other fights on the Golden Gloves Promotions bill see International Boxing Organisation (IBO) super-middleweight champion Isaac ‘Golden Boy’ Chilemba defending his title against Thomas ‘Tommy Gun’ Oosthuizen (pictured right), lightweight prospect Jason ‘Badman’ Bedeman taking on Korean Ji-Hoon Kim and former International Boxing Federation (IBF) junior lightweight champion Malcolm ‘Stone’ Klassen squaring off against Vin Vin Rufino of the Phillipines.
Maxwell gets a personal best in Berlin
Durban-based athlete Tanith Maxwell (pictured) did her country proud when she finished eighth in the 37th running of the Berlin Marathon on Sunday morning. The 34-year-old Maxwell notched up a personal best of 2hrs, 32 min and 33 secs behind winner Aberu Kedebe of Ethiopia.
Kedebe, who broke the tape in 2:23:58, was a minute ahead of countrywoman and pre-race favourite Bezunesh Bekele, with Japanese runner Tomo Morimo third in 2:26:10. In a race where only the top five women dipped under the 2:30 barrier, Maxwell spent most of the event in the top 10.
The Boxer club athlete went through the first five kilometres in 18:07 and then increased the pace through to 15km, which she completed in 53:19 on route to a 75:24 split at halfway. Some steady running took her to 2:24:23 at the 40km mark, where she slowed to 3 min, 44 secs per kilometre through to the finish. Maxwell’s time was two-minutes better than her previous best set at the London Marathon in April.