Weekly Sports Wrap, South African sports news – 31 August
Shaky Boks prevail in nine-try thriller
The Springboks fought back from a four-point deficit at half time to defeat Australia 44-31 in a tense Vodacom Tri-Nations encounter at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday night. The Boks were pushed all the way by the Wallabies in an entertaining match which yielded nine tries – five of them going to the men in green.
Right-wing JP Pietersen sealed victory for the Boks with a well-taken try after the Wallabies were only six points adrift with just a few minutes left to play. The win was the first for John Smit’s outfit in this year’s Tri-Nations and also ended the Springbok centurion curse, with lock Victor Matfield becoming the first Bok to win in his 100th Test – after Percy Montgomery and Smit lost in their centenary Tests.
However, it was by no means a convincing performance from the World champions who were shaky on defence and, just as with the All Blacks the previous weekend, faded badly in the last quarter. In fact, had coach Peter de Villiers not decided to bring on Chiliboy Ralepelle (pictured right) to replace a rapidly tiring Smit, the Boks could easily have lost this match. Replacement hooker Ralepelle joined the fray on the hour and quickly made two crucial turn-overs to stem the Wallaby tide when it just seemed to be gaining momentum. It was a clever move by De Villiers and one wonders what would have happened had he made use of the same option a week before.
The Wallabies started like a house on fire going 14-0 up after just six minutes. Converted tries from scrumhalf Will Genia and wing James O’Connor stunned the Boks who must have wondered what had hit them. Bok flanker Juan Smith took advantage of some poor Wallaby defending to score under the posts but the Boks quickly went further behind when wing Bryan Habana fumbled the restart, and O’Connor was able to coast through for his second try of the evening.
Hulking prop Gurthro Steenkamp then scored a second try for the Boks when he smashed his way through a host of defenders only for Habana to cancel out his team-mate’s good work with another defensive blunder. The Bok No 11 was caught in possession under his own posts, a penalty was awarded and a quick take saw Dean Mumm canter over for another Aussie try on 28 minutes.
With the Wallabies now 28-17 up the Boks were in danger of being overwhelmed, but a multi-phase movement eventually saw scrumhalf Francois Hougaard (pictured) create enough space for muscular eighthman Pierre Spies to dot down under the posts. That brought the Boks back to within four points (28-24) at the interval.
The men in green then built on the momentum created by Spies’ try when burly fullback Frans Steyn dotted down in the far right hand corner shortly after the re-start. Bok flyhalf Morne Steyn and Aussie counterpart Matt Giteau then exchanged penalties to make it 34-31 to the Boks just on the hour.
Then came the frenetic last quarter where the Wallabies threw everything they had at their foes only to be thwarted by some excellent, if not desperate defending. The lively Hougaard, who always gives one hundred and ten percent on the field, was particularly outstanding in this regard.
The diminutive No 9 produced arguably the best cover tackle of the day when he stopped Adam Ashley-Cooper dead in his tracks just as the big Aussie centre was about to score what would have likely been a match winning try. Hougaard then sealed the Wallabies’ fate when he engineered Pietersen’s clinching try to give the Boks a flattering victory margin of 13 points.
Truth be told it was an unconvincing performance by the Boks who were only able to take the lead after 51 minutes when Frans Steyn scored his try. The South Africans were outplayed for large periods of the match and had the Aussies showed more committment on defence, they could easily have won Saturday’s game by a comfortable margin.
The Boks face the Wallabies again in their final Tri-Nations encounter at Vodacom Park in Bloemfontein on Saturday. The Aussies have not beaten the Boks on the Highveld since 1963 and will be eager to turn the tables on their foes.
A Wallaby win is certainly not improbable given Saturday’s shaky performance from the Boks and Rocky Elsom’s outfit will certainly be confident of exacting revenge for a defeat that was largely of their own making. The match kicks-off at 5pm.
South Africa – Tries: Juan Smith, Gurthro Steenkamp, Pierre Spies, Frans Steyn and JP Pietersen. Conversions: Morne Steyn (4) and Butch James. Penalties: Morne Steyn (2) and Frans Steyn.
Australia – Tries: Will Genia, James O’Connor (2) and Dean Mumm. Conversions: Matt Giteau (4). Penalty: Giteau.
Pos Team Pts
1. New Zealand 23
2. South Africa 6
3. Australia 5
Four-try Pumas shock Bulls
The 2010 Absa Currie Cup season is not proving to be a happy one for defending champions the Vodacom Blue Bulls. The men in blue suffered their fourth defeat from eight starts when they went down 22-21 to an unfancied Barloworld Toyota Pumas oufit at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Friday evening.
It was a memorable victory for the home side who had only managed to win one of seven games prior to taking the field on Friday. The Pumas, playing in front of a 20 000-strong crowd, outscored the Bulls by four tries to two in the first-ever rugby match played at the Fifa World Cup venue.
The Pumas started strongly, getting the best of the opening exchanges and were rewarded for their efforts when eighthman Doppies le Roux crashed over the tryline after just three minutes of action. Flyhalf Elgar Watts (pictured) missed the conversion but made amends with a brilliant solo try just minutes later when he sprinted in from all of 50 metres.
With the Pumas 10-0 up and brimming with confidence the Bulls were up against it, but they slowly began to fight their way back into the match when flyhalf Francois Brummer kicked a 20th minute penalty to reduce the deficit to seven points. Visiting prop Dean Greyling then barged over the line for a try seven minutes later before another Brummer penalty put the Bulls in front on 35 minutes.
Brummer missed two further penalty attempts in the 39th and 41st minutes that would have given his side a useful six-point lead at the break, but the Bulls were still able to go into the interval 11-10 ahead. The visitors must have felt they had turned the tide with their late first half fightback and would have been even further encouraged when eighthman Dewald Potgieter crashed over for a converted try just seven minutes after the restart.
However, despite being 18-10 down the Pumas will still very much in the game, showing a lot of flair on attack. Replacement back Ashwin Scott scored the home side’s third try when he dived over in the right-hand corner after 53 minutes to reduce the deficit to three points. Watts added the conversion to make it 18-17 to the visitors with 25 minutes to go.
Replacement flyhalf Jacques-Louis Potgieter then extended the Bulls’ lead with a 58th-minute penalty before the Pumas went back in front through centre Tiaan Meyer who powered his way over for a try after 64 minutes. The Bulls tried desperately to get back in front, but the Pumas, spurred on by their home fans, held on for a memorable victory.
“We can see ourselves settling down in Nelspruit,” said a thrilled Pumas captain Hannes Franklin (pictured left)after the match. “Well done to the whole team,” he added. It was indeed a most surprising victory for the newly promoted Pumas who exacted revenge for a 38-15 defeat to the Bulls in their opening match of the competition.
Pumas 22 – Tries: Doppies le Roux, Elgar Watts, Ashwin Scott and Tiaan Meyer. Conversion: Watts.
Blue Bulls 21 – Tries: Dean Greyling, Dewald Potgieter. Conversion: Jacques-Louis Potgieter. Penalties: Francois Brummer (2), Potgieter.
Other results (from left to right)
Lions 45 – Leopards 22 – Coca-Cola Park Stadium, Johannesburg
Sharks 48 – Griquas 30 – The Absa Stadium, Durban
Cheetahs 29 – Western Province 24 – Newlands Stadium, Cape Town
Leopards vs Pumas – Profert Olen Park, Potchefstroom
Griquas vs Cheetahs – GWK Park, Kimberley – 7pm
Lions vs Western Province – Coca-Cola Park Stadium, Johannesburg – 7.10pm
Bulls vs Sharks – Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria Accommodation – 7.10pm
Currie Cup log (After eight games)
Pos Team Pts
1. Sharks 35
2. WP 28
3. Cheetahs 24
4. Bulls 24
5. Griquas 23
6. Lions 20
7. Pumas 12
8. Leopards 4
Dlamini’s brace sinks Maritzburg
Two goals from Ayanda Dlamini (pictured) helped AmaZulu to a narrow 3-2 victory over KwaZulu-Natal rivals Maritzburg United in their opening 2010/11 Absa Premiership fixture at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Sunday afternoon. Dlamini scored his second goal in extra time to secure victory for Usuthu who were pushed all the way by The Team of Choice.
In an action packed affair that was a brilliant display of how football can be played in South Africa, United will be bitterly disappointed with the loss after twice coming from behind to draw level in the match. AmaZulu quickly took the lead when Dlamini scoring his first goal after 13 minutes with an excellent glancing header following a free-kick by Ntokozo Sikhakhane from the left. Undeterred, Martizburg soon found an equaliser when Rudolph Bester tapped in from close range after Mbongeni Mzimela failed to clear a Kurt Lentjies’ free-kick into the area.
Usuthu went back in front in the 38th minute when debutant Lehlohonolo Majoro headed home powerfully following a well-placed cross by Sikhakhane from the right. With United a goal behind at the interval Amazulu must have been pretty chuffed with themselves, but all that changed when Siphiwe Mkhonza scored an own goal just seven minutes after the restart.
Mkhonza, with hardly any pressure on him, lobbed the ball back to his own goalkeeper from about 30 yards out, but completely misjudged the pass to find the back of his own net. Thereafter both teams vigouriously went in seach of the equaliser and it was Dlamini who came up with the goods in stoppage time with a curling shot that United goalkeeper Shu-aib Walters was unable to keep out.
Usuthu’s next PSL fixture is against Bloemfontein Celtic at the Seisa Ramabodu Stadium next Wednesday evening. Celtic lost their opening game when they went down 2-0 to Ajax Cape Town on Friday evening and will have their work cut out for them against the confident KwaZulu-Natalians. United are at home to Kaizer Chiefs in their next outing and are likely to be in for a tough time against the Amakhosi who outclassed Moroka Swallows 2-0 on Saturday.
Other PSL results (From left to right)
Orlando Pirates 2 – Vasco Da Gama 1 – Cape Town Stadium
Wits University 3 – SuperSport United 0 – Bidvest Stadium
Free State Stars 0 – Santos 0 – Charles Mopeli Stadium
Mamelodi Sundowns 2 – Moroka Swallows 0 – HM Pitje Stadium
Black Aces 2 – Platinum Stars 3 – Puma Rugby Stadium
Meanwhile, Bafana Bafana face a tricky test when they take on a relatively unknown Niger outfit in a crucial 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Saturday night. After defeating France and Ghana in their last two outings the South Africans will fancy their chances of beating the West African minnows, although Bafana skipper Aaron Mokoena (pictured) cautioned against overconfidence.
“We cannot afford to underestimate Niger. They pose a whole lot of new challenges for us and it will be a whole new ball game playing them after the World Cup and Ghana,” Mokoena explained. “We are looking at the bigger picture and that is to qualify for the 2012 Afcon (in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea). Our campaign starts against Niger and we have to secure three points,” he added.
“I am still in the dark about what to expect from Niger, but it is a win at all costs game for us,” said Bafana head coach Pitso Mosimane. “The good thing is I have my players in camp early and we will be ready. I do not care how we win as long as we get three points,” he added. Mosimane said the experience Bafana gained in the World Cup will stand them in good stead in a tough qualifying group that includes African champions Egypt and Sierra Leone. “We have learnt a lot from the World Cup, the players have benefitted and now we need to take that experience into the Afcon qualifiers,” said the coach. Saturday’s match kicks-off at 8.30pm.
Boxing bonanza in Brakpan set to excite fans
The International Boxing Federation (IBF) junior lightweight belt will be up for grabs at Carnival City near Brakpan tomorrow night when South African veterans Cassius ‘Mr Shy Guy’ Baloyi and Mzonke ‘The Rose of Khayelitsha’ Fana duke it out for the vacant title over 12 rounds.
The 35-year-old Baloyi, who is gunning for an unprecedented seventh world title belt, has won 37 bouts (19 by knockout), losing four and drawing one in an illustrious career that stretches all the way back to 1994. Fana, 37, is a former holder of the belt and has already shared a ring with Baloyi, dropping a 12-round majority decision to his rival in April 2008.
In that bout Fana (29-4; 12 KO’s), allowed Baloyi to take an early lead but rallied in the later rounds to lose by scores of 117-111, 116-112 and 114-114. Baloyi later lost the title to fellow South African Malcolm Klassen, who in turn lost it to Robert Guerrero, who then relinquished the belt. Even though both fighters are in the twilight of their careers they are still in top condition and a thrilling battle is expected between the two ring veterans.
In another all-South African clash, 27-year-old Moruti Mthalane (pictured) makes the first defence of his IBF flyweight crown against 22-year-old Zolani Tete (13-0; 11 KO’s). Tete, a southpaw, once held the lightly regarded World Boxing Federation (WBF) belt and earned his shot at the IBF title by outpointing Richard Garcia of the Philipines in February this year.
However, Garcia could be described as ordinary at best and Tete will have to lift his game considerably if he is to entertain any hopes of victory against the accomplished Mthalane (25-2; 16 KO’s). ‘Babyface’ as Mthalane is known is one of South Africa’s best pound for pound fighters and captured the IBF crown by comfortably outpointing tough Mexican Julio Cesar Miranda in Johannesburg last year.
In another IBF title eliminator featuring two South Africans, this time for the junior featherweight belt, former International Boxing Organisation (IBO) junior featherweight champion Takalani ‘Panther’ Ndlovu (pictured) squares off against Jeffrey ‘Mongoose’ Mathebula (23-2-2; 13 KO’s). The taller Mathebula will have his work cut out for him against the more experienced Ndlovu (30-6; 18 KO’s) who has been punching for pay since April 1999.
In the fourth high profile fight on the Branco Sports Productions bill, South African minimumweight champion Tshepo Lefele (16-4; 10 KO’s) faces a stern test in the form of ex-World Boxing Council (WBC) minimumweight champion Katsunari Takayama (23-4; 9 KO’s) of Japan. The winner will earn the right to challenge IBF minimumweight champion Nkosinathi Joyi of South Africa.
Meanwhile, Gauteng veteran Pius Dipheko tackles unbeaten Namibian Bethuel Ushona in a nine-bout tournament at the Turfontein Racecourse in Johannesburg on Friday night. Dipheko, from Kagiso, faces Ushona in a lightweight bout scheduled for 10 rounds.
Former Olympian and South African junior heavyweight champion Danie Venter will take on Norman Slabani in a heavyweight contest scheduled for six rounds while former South African and World Boxing Foundation junior featherweight champion Oscar Chauke squares off against another Namibian, Abraham Ndaendapo.
Kyle Bothma vs Jeremiah Joshua – junior welterweights (6 rounds)
Rudolph Venter vs Rudy Bruwer – light-heavyweights (6 rounds)
Sting Gundarela vs Ronnie Lategan – light-heavyweights (6 rounds)
Irvette makes it a double
National champion Irvette van Blerk (pictured) was in scintilating form over the weekend winning the back-to-back Spar Women’s 10km Challenge and pocketing R20 000 for her efforts. The 23-year-old, who captured the South African title over the same distance in Paarl two weeks ago, set a blistering pace from the outset in both races to simply blow away the competition.
Van Blerk won the Centurion race by more than half a minute in 34 min, 26 secs on Saturday and claimed victory in the Durban event the following day with an even better time. Commenting on her tactics in the Centurion event Van Blerk said she had not planned to push the pace in the early stages, but took advantage of her strength on the hills on the tough new route.
“It’s not an easy course, but I’m glad it was hilly. I think it helped me a lot. It was hot out there, but I felt good so I decided to go for it,” explained Van Blerk. Zimbabweans Rutendo Nyhora (34:59) and Sharon Tavengwa (35:08) were second and third respectively while South Africa’s leading middle distance track athlete, Rene Kalmer, finished a disappointing eighth in 37:08.
Van Blerk picked up where she left off on Saturday when she showed the field a clean pair of heels to break the tape in 33:45 in Durban with Zintle Xiniwe (34:48) second and Poppy Mlambo, who missed the start of Saturday’s race due to a taxi accident, third in 35:06. Kalmer had another disappointing run, managing only 37:03 for 10th place.
Meanwhile, world 800 metres champion Caster Semenya clocked a season’s best of 1 min, 59.65 secs, to finish third on her Diamond League debut in Brussels on Friday. “One minute 57 would be a good time for this year,” the 19-year-old South African told reporters after suffering her first defeat of the season. “I will be better with more races so I can run faster. No competition, no run fast,” she added with a smile.
Included in South Africa’s squad for October’s Commonwealth Games Semenya took the cautious approach in Brussels, running the first lap at the back of the pack. She advanced up the field on the outside in the final 200, but could not catch former world champion Janeth Jepkosgei of Kenya and European gold medallist Mariya Savinova, who was second. “I wasn’t expecting to run fast like that. I’m happy with the time,” said Semenya.
Olympic finalist Juan van Deventer (pictured) also recorded a season’s best in the men’s 1 500m race at the IAAF World Challenge meeting in Rieti, Italy, on Sunday. The 27-year-old was only 0.22 seconds short of the personal best he set in New York 15 months ago, clocking 3:34.52 to finish ninth in a field of 13. Kenyan Olympic champion Asbel Kiprop won in 3:31.78, just ahead of countryman Silas Kiplagat who clocked 3:31.97.