Weekly Sports Wrap, South African sports news – 7 September
Morne’s brilliant boot fails to save Boks
A long range penalty from fullback Kurtley Beale late in the game enabled Australia to record a narrow 41-39 over South Africa in their penultimate Vodacom Tri-Nations fixture at Vodacom Park in Bloemfontein on Saturday. In a nailbiting affair which saw the Springboks claw their way back into the match after trailing 31-13 at the break, it was Beale who held his nerve under pressure to slot the winning kick and earn his side their first win on the highveld since 1963.
Just as was the case at Loftus Versfeld a week ago the Aussies raced into an early lead scoring four converted tries and a penalty while the Boks could only muster two penalties from kicking maestro Morne Steyn (pictured right) in reply. Trailing 31-6 just minutes before half-time it seemed as though the Boks were dead and buried, but a moment of brilliance from veteran lock Victor Matfield set the stage for an unbelievable second half fight back.
Matfield scooped up the ball from loose play, chipped over the top of the advancing Wallaby defensive lines and then gathered the kick before off loading to centre Jacque Fourie who dotted down for a much needed try. Steyn made no mistake with the conversion and although the Boks were still a long way behind, one sensed that Matfield’s magical moment could well be the catalyst to spark the South Africans into action.
And indeed, this proved to be the case as the Boks came out firing on all cylinders after the re-start, forcing the Aussies onto the back foot and sending them into panic mode. The opening try of the Bok comeback came five minutes into the second half after a series of strong drives paved the way for hardworking prop Gurthro Steenkamp (pictured) to barge his way over the line.
Steyn made no mistake with the conversion and when the kicking ace slotted his third penalty a few minutes later to reduce the deficit to eight points (31-23), the Boks were back in contention. The Bok supporters, who up until that point had been stunned into silence, began to once again cheer for their team and the men in green responded by launching wave after wave of attacks on the Wallaby defensive line.
The constant pressure forced the Aussies into making a slew of mistakes as they dropped passes, failed to find touch and even, on one occasion, passed the ball over the dead-ball line. With the Boks being awarded a five-metre scrum as a result of the latter mistake, inside centre Jean de Villiers was able to smash his way through a host of defenders to score under the posts.
Steyn’s conversion meant the Boks were only one-point adrift with 26 minutes to go and with the momentum clearly in their favour, it seemed as though the Boks were on the road to victory. Steyn then put the Boks in front for the first time in the match when he slotted a long range penalty and with 19 minutes to go the Wallabies looked to be fading fast.
Things went from bad to worse for the visitors when Steyn kicked yet another penalty after replacement hooker Saia Fainga’a was sin-binned for dangerous play. The Boks were now five points ahead with just 11 minutes left and with the Aussies down to 14 men a home win seemed almost inevitable. However, Aussie winger Drew Mitchell set a cat among the pigeons when he went over between the posts after holding onto a clever inside pass from flyhalf Quade Cooper who, just as he has done all season, continued to trouble the Bok defense with his wizardry.
Mitchell’s try, which was converted by centre Matt Giteau, put the Aussies two points in front but a subsequent moment of madness looked for all the world to have cost them the game. It was Beale who was the culprit, a pass from a teammate striking his head and bouncing forward into the hands of a Bok player, and the resultant pressure earned the home side a penalty.
Steyn was his usual ice cool self as he bisected the uprights from the right touchline to put the Boks back in front by a single point. With just three minutes to go all the Boks had to do to secure victory was wind down the clock, and for about two and a half minutes they did just that as they retained possession near the halfway line.
However, with just seconds remaining replacement lock Flip van der Merwe tried to seal the ball off illegally, referee Wayne Barnes correctly penalised him, and Australia had a choice – kick for the posts, which were 50 metres away and at an angle, or set up the lineout. Aussie skipper Rocky Elsom decided to go for posts, entrusting the beleagured Beale with the long range effort.
If ever there was a chance for redemption this was it, and Beale proved up to the task when he cooly slotted the difficult kick to give the Wallabies the win. Truth be told the Boks simply didn’t deserve to win the match and in the end the result was an accurate reflection of not only the match, but the Boks’ entire Tri-Nations campaign.
To compete effectively in top-flight international rugby you have to play for the full 80 minutes – something the Boks did not do in this match nor in any other of the Tri-Nations games they have played. The South Africans must surely realise by now that passion and the boot of Steyn is not enough to win games at this level. The reality is that they have a ton of work to do if they hope to retain their title at next year’s World Cup in New Zealand – something that Bok skipper John Smit (pictured) is acutely aware of.
“We’ve had a poor Tri-Nations, and we know that we have much work to do in the months to come as we get ready for the World Cup,” was all a sombre Smit could muster during the post match interviews. Indeed, the Boks have a mountain to climb ahead of rugby’s 2011 showpiece and one wonders if they have what it takes to bounce back after finishing last in this year’s Tri-Nations competition.
Australia 41 – Tries: Kurtley Beale, James O`Connor, Stephen Moore, Rocky Elsom, Drew Mitchell.
Conversions: Matt Giteau (4), O`Connor.
Penalties: Giteau, Kurtley Beale.
South Africa 39 – Tries: Jaque Fourie, Gurthro Steenkamp, Jean de Villiers.
Conversions: Morne Steyn (3).
Penalties: Steyn (6).
Pos Team Pts
1. New Zealand 23
2. Australia 10
3. South Africa 7
Bafana cruise past Niger in Cup opener
Bafana Bafana recorded a comfortable 2-0 victory over a hopelessly outclassed Niger outfit in their opening 2012 African Nations Cup Group G qualifier at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Saturday night. So dominate were the South Africans that they could have won the match by at least six goals had they not squandered numerous chances in front of goal.
Bafana’s lack of killer instinct must have been of some concern to head coach Pitso Mosimane although Carlos Alberto Parreira’s successor will undoubtedly be happy with the three points his team earned for their win and the clean sheet kept by goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune.
Bafana made their intentions clear from the kick-off when Siphiwe Tshabalala had a goal-bound shot deflected for a corner in the second minute. A minute later Niger ‘keeper Losseiny Dounbia Issa did well to deny Katlego Mphela (pictured) the opening goal.
However, the agile Issa could not prevent Mphela scoring his 18th international goal in the 12th minute when the striker was set up by Steven Pienaar who split the defence with a clever ball that Mphela chipped over the advancing ‘keeper’s head. Niger striker Maazou Moussa tested Khune with a rasping 20-metre shot in the 17th minute, but the Bafana ‘keeper comfortably dealt with the threat.
Mphela nearly scored a second goal in the 20th minute but was thwarted by Niger defender Mohamed Chicoto who made a great tackle just as the Bafana striker was lining up his shot. Roared on by the 40 000 strong crowd, Bafana continued to swarm forward and Tshabalala should have made it 2-0 on 25 minutes when he missed a sitter from close range.
Issa continued to keep Niger in the game when he pulled off a point-blank save in the 38th minute from Mphela, but the pressure paid off in the referee’s optional time when Dutch-based striker Bernard Parker (pictured) volleyed an Anele Ngconca cross straight into the back of the net. Ngconca nearly made it 3-0 in the last minute of injury time but his sizzling shot flew over the crossbar.
Bafana continued to squander chances in the second half when first, Parker tamely shot at Issa in the 54th and 55th minutes and then Tshabalala blasted the ball over the crossbar from close range three minutes later. With Niger now on the rack and seemingly at Bafana’s mercy, the South Africans could have won by a rugby score but continued to waste chances – some of which would have embarrased a schoolboy side.
However, poor finishing aside, Bafana were able to pick up three points and get their campaign off to a winning start with the added bonus of not conceding a goal. Of course, only time will tell if the experience Bafana gained at the World Cup will translate into consistently positive results on the ground, but on the whole things are looking up for the 66th ranked South Africans who, prior to the 2010 global showpiece, were ranked just 83rd in the world.
Meanwhile, the second round of the Absa Premiership gets underway tomorrow with a host of fixtures being played all over the country. Log leaders Bidvest Wits face an interesting test against Santos while second placed Ajax Cape Town travel to the Dobsonville Stadium to tackle the always dangerous Moroka Swallows in a match that is likely to produce fireworks.
Arrows vs Vasco da Gama – Chatsworth Stadium – 3pm
Platinum Stars vs Sundowns – Royal Bafokeng Stadium – 7.30pm
Celtic vs AmaZulu – Seisa Ramabodu Stadium – 7.30pm
SuperSport vs Aces – Super Stadium – 7.30pm
Santos vs Wits – Athlone Stadium – 7.30pm
Swallows vs Ajax – Dobsonville Stadium – 8pm
Pirates vs FS Stars – Orlando Stadium – 8pm
Maritzburg vs Chiefs – Harry Gwala Stadium – 8.30pm
Bulls stun Sharks with second half surge
A superb-second half performance from defending champions the Vodacom Blue Bulls earned them a much needed 40-34 win over log leaders the Sharks in their Absa Currie Cup match at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria Accommodation on Saturday evening. With the home side trailing 24-13 at the break, it seemed as though they were destined for their fifth defeat of the competition, but all that changed after the interval when Bulls coach Frans Ludeke wrung the changes.
The first half belonged to the Sharks as they enjoyed the lion’s share of possession and adopted a fast-paced game that threatened to overwhelm their opponents. Wing Lwazi Mvovo opened the scoring for the visitors after just seven minutes when he took an inside ball from fullback Monty Dumond to burst through two attempted tackles before going over in the right-hand corner for his eighth try of the season.
Flyhalf Patrick Lambie missed the conversion but slotted a penalty shortly thereafter to ease the Sharks into an 8-0 lead after 10 minutes. The Bulls struck back quickly when lock Juandre Kruger latched onto a pass from outside centre Jaco Pretorius to crash over for a converted try.
Lambie and his opposite number Jacques Louis Potgieter (pictured) then exchanged penalties but the Sharks were playing some entertaining rugby and as the first quarter came to an end, the visitors scored their second try when outside centre Stefan Terblanche dived over from close range. Lambie then slotted his third penalty as the Sharks increased their lead to 21-10.
The Bulls had managed to keep themselves in the match courtesy of some superb scrambling defence and Potgieter reduced the gap to just eight points with a penalty after 33 minutes. However, the visitors extended their lead once again when Lambie kicked another penalty after the half-time hooter had sounded.
With the Bulls trailing by 11 points at the interval they needed to come up with a plan to get back into the match and Ludeke’s decision to wring the changes proved to be the answer. The Bulls substitutes made a telling impact as the homeside scored 20 unanswered points in 11 minutes in the second stanza before Lambie succeeded with a penalty in the 64th minute to stem the tide.
Potgieter iniated the Bulls’ points spree when he kicked a long range penalty in the 50th minute. Scrumhalf Ruan Snyman then got among the scorers when he broke clear from a ruck to dot down from five metres out and with Potgieter adding the conversion the Bulls were now just a single point adrift.
Burly replacement prop Jaco Engels (pictured left) breached the Sharks’ defences for a fourth time with a wonderful solo effort after he took a pass just outside the visitors’ 22. Demonstrating the agility and skill of a centre Engels burst through a gap before swerving past the last defender to score a memorable try. Potgieter added the conversion and another penalty as the Bulls increased their lead to 33-24 before Lambie’s penalty.
The home side wrapped up proceedings with just over 10 minutes to play when inside centre Wynand Olivier intercepted a flat pass from replacement scrumhalf Rory Kockott to go over for a converted try. There was some consolation for the visitors when lock Alistair Hargreaves stretched over to score eight minutes from time to secure his team a bonus point for finishing within seven points.
Despite their loss, only their second of the season, the Sharks remain atop the Currie Cup standings on 36 points while the Bulls moved to fourth with 28 points. The men from Pretoria travel to Bloemfontein to take on the Cheetahs in their next outing while the Sharks face a potential banana skin in the form of the resurgent Pumas who followed up their shock win over the Bulls last weekend with a win over the Leopards on Friday.
Bulls 40 – Tries: Juandre Kruger, Ruan Snyman, Jaco Engels, Wynand Olivier. Conversions: Jacques-Louis Potgieter (3), Zane Kirchner. Penalties: Potgieter (4).
Sharks 34 – Tries: Lwazi Mvovo, Stefan Terblanche, Alistair Hargreaves. Conversions: Patrick Lambie (2). Penalties: Lambie (5).
Other results (from left to right)
Pumas 27 – Leopards 26 – Profert Olen Park, Potchefstroom
Cheetahs 33 – Griquas 28 – GWK Park, Kimberley
Lions 46 – Western Province 28 – Coca-Cola Park Stadium, Johannesburg
Western Province vs Leopards – Newlands Stadium, Cape Town
Pumas vs Sharks – Puma Stadium, Witbank – 7.10pm
Lions vs Griquas – Coca-Cola Park Stadium, Johannesburg – 3pm
Cheetahs vs Bulls – Vodacom Park, Bloemfontein – 5.05pm
Currie Cup log (After nine games)
Pos Team Pts
1. Sharks 36
2. WP 28
3. Cheetahs 28
4. Bulls 28
5. Lions 25
6. Griquas 24
7. Pumas 17
8. Leopards 5
Thabo stays undefeated
Thabo Sonjica kept his unbeaten record when he halted John ‘Sweat Pea’ Gicharu inside four rounds in a junior featherweight contest in East London on Sunday afternoon. Sonjica, who hails from nearby Duncan Village, won the bout at the Orient Theatre when referee Lulama Mtya called a halt to proceedings 2 min, 31 secs into the round.
Sonjica, a southpaw, chased Gicharu around the ring for the majority of the fight, taking advanatge of the Kenyan’s porous defence to land some hurtful blows. Although he was cut over the left eye in the second round Sonjica (54.75 kg) still managed to back Gicharu (55.30 kg) up, battering him with right and left hands to the head until Mtya had no option but to intervene. The local fighter improved to 7-0 (5 KO’s) with the win while Gicharu slid to
13-8-1 (6 KO’s).
Other results from the Orient Theatre
Bongani Mfundisi W6 Luyanda Nkwankwa (mini flyweights)
Luzuko Siyo TKO 6 Siswe Qwemeshe (junior flyweights)
Ntobeko Duma D6 Mfusi Maxhayi (bantamweights)
Thabo Sishwane TKO 4 Linda Petse (bantamweights)
Xolisani Ndongeni TKO 2 Lulama Titise (featherweights)
Phumlani Mdlokolo TKO 2 Xolani Gellem (welterweights)
Meanwhile, in other fight action, this time from the Turfontein Racecourse in Johannesburg, Betuel ‘Tyson’ Ushona halted Pius ‘Mr Hercules’ Dipheko in the seventh round of their welterweight fight on Friday night. The well-schooled Namibian was impressive in beating his South African opponent in a bout scheduled for ten rounds.
Ushona (66.30kg) dropped Dipheko with an unintentional low blow in the fourth round and began scoring with quick left-right combinations soon afterwards. The visitor also dominated the action in the sixth round and midway through the seventh he unleashed a flurry of blows to Dipheko’s head.
Dipheko (66.40kg) staggered across the ring before sinking to his knees prompting referee Phillip du Randt to call a halt to proceedings at 1:45 of the round. Ushona upped his record to 22-0 (8 KO’s) while Dipheko fell to 9-10-5 (2 KO’s).
Other results from Turfontein
Oscar Chauke TKO 1 Gotlieb Ndokofho (featherweights)
Kyle Bothma W6 Jeremiah Joshua (junior welterweights)
Rudolph Venter TKO 5 Rudy Bruwer (light-heavyweights)
Ryno Liebenburg TKO 1 Fikile Nyalungu (light-heavyweights)
Danie Venter W6 Sting Gonorenda (heavyweights)
The much anticipated clash between local rivals Mzonke Fana (pictured) and Cassius Baloyi proved to be something of a let down for the fans with Fana recording a lopsided decision over the ‘Hit Man’ at Carnival City in Brakpan on Wednesday night.
‘The Rose of Khayelitsha’ as Fana is known, dominated the action as he battered fellow veteran Baloyi from pillar to post throughout the 12-rounds. In fact, referee Deon Dwarte should have halted the contest rather than allowing it to go the distance as Baloyi was never in the fight.
The ‘Hit Man’ said that he would take a long break from the sport to ponder his future, but after suffering such a decisive defeat, he will be wise to pull down the curtain on a glittering career, which saw him win numerous world titles in a number of different weight classes. Fana, who began punching for pay in 1994, has now revitalised his career after losing to Baloyi on points in April 2008.
Other results from Carnival City
Katsunami Takayama TKO 6 Tshepo Lefele (IBF mini-flyweight title eliminator)
Moruti Mthlane TKO 5 Zolani Tete (IBF flyweight title)
Takalani Ndlovu W12 Jeffrey Mathebula (IBF junior featherweight title eliminator)