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Stormers out to improve attacking performance

Allister Coetzee said on Monday that he believes the Stormers are not too far away from producing a vastly improved attacking display.

“We are at the tipping point, and we just need to get the balance right, we can’t attack at all costs. If one looks at the results you’ll see attack-minded teams are losing games.

“Our backline is getting limited opportunities. We have systems and if players do their own thing mistakes can be costly.”

Coetzee would not be drawn into who was guilty for the second-half fracas, which played itself in front of a packed grandstand, and which resulted in Stormers flank Rynhardt Elstadt getting a yellow card.

“The team had a video session and we’ve all had a look but its difficult to say. (Assistant referee) Jonathan (Kaplan) was right there and he made the call,” was all Coetzee would say.

As expected, Coetzee has turned to the Western Province Vodacom Cup side to solve the squad’s loose forward crisis. He has called Nick Fenteon-Wells and Don Armand but he’ll make a call later in the week about which one will be included in Saturday’s match-day squad against the Waratahs.

“Both players are flankers and essentially we need a No 8. Don gives is us a line-out option and Nick is a genuine forager, a scavenger at the breakdowns,” said Coetzee. “One of them will make the squad and the other will return to Province to play in the Vodacom Cup final against Griquas on Friday.

“It’s tough to be drawing players from a team that is preparing for a final, but that’s the way it is.I have not stopped looking elsewhere for loose froward reinforcements.

“It’s important to look abroad because really we someone that can offer what we get from a player like Duane Vermeulen or Nick Koster.

“What we are doing at this stage (of the injury dilemma) is to change the roles of players. Siya Kolisi is one such player in point and he’ll go all the time, and do what is required.

“But we need to manage players like him or else he’ll also breakdown.”

Coetzee said he was very pleased with the debut of Canada and London Irish loose forward Jebb Sinclair last Saturday.

“It’s still too early in the week to say he’ll be in the starting line-up against the Waratahs,” said Coetzee. “But he won’t let the side down. He’s done so well considering he was not at all our training sessions last week but we got what we expected from an international player. He played on instinct.”

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2012 in Rugby

 

Kompany ‘never ever’ lost faith

LONDON: Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany said he never stopped believing his side could beat Queens Park Rangers and win the Premier League title even when they trailed 2-1 going into stoppage time yesterday.

Goals from Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero in two unforgettable minutes duly secured an astonishing 3-2 home victory to earn City their first league title for 44 years as they pipped Manchester United on goal difference.

“We’ve done it before this season and I never stopped believing,” Kompany told Sky Sports.

“Never, ever, and when Edin scored that goal, it just reminded me of a few moments this season when against Tottenham (Hotspur) we scored in the last minute and against Sunderland we came from two down.

“You want to say it’s the personal moment of your life, but if I’m honest, please never again this way.

“We’ve been so good this season, especially at home, then all of a sudden today even though our first half was really good, we just couldn’t get through.

“It’s not sunk in yet, I don’t know what happened at the end to be honest, it was such a huge mess.”

Aguero repaid a large chunk of his £38million transfer fee when he showed astonishing calmness to skip past a tackle and rifle home the winner seconds from the end just as United, who had beaten Sunderland 1-0 away, seemed poised to retain the title.

Kompany said that it was not just City’s riches that attracted some of the game’s biggest names.

“I’m so happy for the guys, because we’ve given so much this season,” he said.

“It’s not us just coming here for the money, we’ve dreamed of this all our lives, when we were kids, when we were nothing and had no money. And now we are champions and that’s what it’s about for us.”

City manager Roberto Mancini was not so sure, screaming in frustration on the touchline as his team were unable to turn their total dominance into chances against their 10-man opponents who defended superbly as they fought to avoid relegation.

“Never, never like this, incredible. Five minutes to the end, I didn’t think we could win the game, but we wanted this title and we deserved it,” he said.

“It was incredible, impossible, we deserved to win this game, we had a lot of chances, it was incredible for me and the supporters and I’m very happy for them.

“For us, it was really important to win this championship and City have a big future.

“It’s the perfect finale for a crazy season. Crazy game and crazy last two minutes.”

United manager Alex Ferguson was similarly taken aback by the most extraordinary close to a Premier League season, but still found time for a dig at the side he previously dismissed “noisy neighbours”.

“Nobody expected that. Everybody expected City to win, but they did it against 10 men for half-an-hour and with five extra minutes to help them,” he said after Wayne Rooney’s goal had put him in sight of the club’s 20th title.

“But I congratulate City on winning the league. Anybody who wins it deserves it, because it’s a long haul. At the end of our game, our players didn’t actually know the results. Now, they’re really disappointed, I’m glad to say.

“There’s no other way they should be. They conducted themselves brilliantly today. Their performance level was good. I’m pleased at our performance this season. 89 points would win most leagues. It wasn’t our turn today.”

It was all looking much more straightforward when Pablo Zabaleta put City ahead late in the first half with his only goal of the season, but the defender admitted he thought his team had blown it against a Rangers side who avoided relegation anyway after Bolton Wanderers failed to win at Stoke City.

“At 2-1, I thought the game was gone, but right now I’m dreaming and I don’t want to wake up,” he said. “The most important thing is when you believe. When you fight to the end, sometimes you can get it, and I’m really proud for this group; players, staff and fans.

“You have to try to the end. We won the game in the last five minutes. It’s crazy, but I think we deserved it. We have fantastic players, and for this club it is a great step forward. Europe’s next.”

Mike Summerbee, a key member of the last City side to win the league in 1968, seemed in a state of shock.

“It was quite unbelievable, you couldn’t write that,” he said. “I thought we were out of it, then things change. I can’t go through things like that at my age.”

Former teammate Francis Lee said it was high time a new generation took over.

“I think we’ve got a new band of legends now,” he said. “We can retire into the legends club and just sit there with our feet up now.”

Arsenal claimed third spot and a Champions League place after coming from 2-1 down to beat West Bromwich Albion 3-2 at The Hawthorns.

Tottenham Hotspur sealed fourth place, and a possible Champions League qualifying tie, by beating Fulham 2-0, while Newcastle United finished fifth after losing 3-1 at Everton.

Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham face an anxious wait, however, as victory for Chelsea in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich would mean they take a spot in next season’s competition and send Tottenham into the Europa League. Chelsea warmed up for next week’s final with a 2-1 win over relegated Blackburn.

Liverpool’s disappointing season ended on a downbeat note with a 1-0 loss at Swansea.

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2012 in Soccer

 

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Federer leaves lasting impression

Madrid – Roger Federer left a lasting impression on the Madrid Open’s controversial blue claycourt by grinding out a 3-6, 7-5, 7-5 victory against Czech Tomas Berdych to match Rafael Nadal’s record of 20 Masters titles on Sunday.

Spaniard Nadal, who fell in the third round and will lose his number two ranking to his great Swiss rival, was one of the most vocal opponents of the new surface, which he said was dangerously slippery.

Federer, however, proved better able to adapt to the testing conditions and secured his fourth title of the season, and the 74th of his illustrious career, after edging a gripping final at the futuristic Magic Box arena.

“It feels amazing,” Federer told spectators sweltering in the Madrid heat inside the Manolo Santana show court as his wife and twin daughters looked on.

“Look, it’s been a tough tournament and tough to move but you just go on with it and try to make the best out of it,” added the 30-year-old.

“There was some good tennis and there was some bad tennis as well, you see that in all the tournaments, but I thought the level of play under the circumstances was very good.”

Federer came into the tournament following a month-long rest and is looking in ominous form as the world’s top players prepare for the French Open starting in Paris later this month.

The 2009 Roland Garros champion had already won titles this year in Rotterdam, Dubai and Indian Wells and has only lost three times since falling to Djokovic in the US Open semi finals last September.

Czech sixth seed Berdych, who ended Federer’s dream of Olympic gold in Athens in 2004 and knocked him out of Wimbledon in the quarter-finals two years ago, made the stronger start and a break of his opponent’s serve in the second game was enough to settle an otherwise desperately tight first set.

The crowd, including American actor Will Smith, tried their best to lift the hugely-popular Federer, champion in 2006 and 2009, and he responded with two breaks in the second set that helped him level the match.

A couple of double faults from Berdych, who was bidding for a second career Masters triumph, put Federer 5-3 ahead in the decider but the 16-times grand slam champion faltered when serving for the match.

However, with Berdych needing to hold to stay in contention at 6-5 down, Federer conjured another break, converting his fourth match point when Berdych netted a forehand.

The statistics show how evenly matched the pair were, with Federer hitting 44 winners to Berdych’s 42 and the Czech making 27 unforced errors to Federer’s 30. The Swiss won 103 points to his opponent’s 101.

Nadal and world Novak Djokovic have both have threatened not to return next year unless the traditional red dirt used at most other clay events is reinstated.

Organisers argue that the blue courts make it easier for television viewers to follow the yellow balls but the players’ complaints may prompt the ATP, the governing body of men’s tennis, to switch back to red clay next year

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2012 in Tennis

 

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Ajax thrash Golden Arrows

Ajax Cape Town enhanced their chances of a top eight finish in the Premier Soccer League with a 4-1 win over Golden Arrows at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The home side were off to the perfect start as they scored as early as the seventh minute.

The goal came from Khama Billiat, whose shot slipped through the hands of Arrows keeper Nkosingphile Gumede, following a good through ball from George Maluleka.

Just four minutes later and an even worse mistake from Gumede saw Lebo Manyama scoring with what had appeared to be a harmless cross into the box, the keeper somehow managing to allow the tame delivery to slip through his hands.

This spelt the end of Gumede’s afternoon, the young keeper being replaced by substitute Stephan Loboue.

But Loboue too was soon picking the ball out the back of the net, following Mathew Booth’s clinical 25th minute header; the defender netting with his fifth goal of the season after being given free rein in the box at Maluleka’s free kick.

Arrows however managed to give themselves a glimmer of hope just before the break when Siyabonga Nkosi showed his class and skill to jink through the Ajax defence before slotting the ball past Sander Westerveld and into the far corner of the net.

The second half saw Arrows with the first chance, but Tamsanqa Gabuza wasted his chance with a weak shot-cum-cross.

At the other of the field Ajax were close to adding a fourth goal when Maluleka hit the crossbar with a free kick after 55 minutes.

Ten minutes later and Nkosi did likewise for Arrows, the former Bafana Bafana attacker skimming the bar from 20-yards out.

In the 75th minute the Cape side were again on the attack and only a good save from Loboue denied Lebo Manyama from scoring with a well-struck shot.

Billiat should then certainly have extended the Urban Warriors’ lead with 10 minutes to go, but the Zimbabwean was unable to hit the target with only the Arrows keeper to beat.

Closing action saw both teams exerting pressure, action switching from end to end before Ajax finally put the game to bed with a well-executed Maluleka strike from 18-yards out, following some great work down the flank from Billiat.

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2012 in Soccer

 

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WP reach Vodacom Cup final

Western Province advanced to the final of the Vodacom Cup by beating the Pumas 33-20 in their semi-final at Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.

Province led 23-12 at half-time and had the upper hand throughout as they delivered a polished all-round performance featuring powerful forward play and endeavour by the backline.

For their part the Pumas were very direct in their approach, but they could not bash it up hard enough to trouble WP’s defence. They were largely dependent on the boot of fullback JC Roos, who struck five penalties.

The opening exchanges were keenly contested and the Pumas struck the opening blow through Roos in the eighth minute. However, that was the only time they had the lead.

Demetri Catrakilis got WP level before hooker Sidney Tobias bashed his way over the try-line after an impressive rolling maul.

Province also used their backline to good effect against the Pumas’s big men and left wing Ederies Arendse finished five minutes before half-time after the ball had been moved from side to side.

Catrakilis added another penalty before the interval and at 12-23 down it was difficult to see a way back for the Pumas.

They got a lifeline 35 seconds into the second half through captain JW Jonker’s try after WP were caught asleep at the kick-off.

But Province soon got themselves out of range again.

Catrakilis struck a penalty minutes after Jonker’s try and WP were again two scores ahead of the Pumas.

Roos again got the Pumas within reach, but WP struck the decisive blow 15 minutes before the end through a push-over try, which skipper Nic Fenton-Wells rounded off.

While the Pumas were outgunned, they could not be faulted for effort.

They laid siege to WP’s goalline in the final 10 minutes, but were undone through a combination of their own errors and the home side’s manful defence.

There were a number of good performances on the WP side, with Berton Klaasen catching the eye in midfield and Catrakilis again impressing with his boot.

Tobias was prominent in the tight loose and his prop colleagues Tom Botha, Schalk Ferreira and Deon Carstens all deserve to be singled out for providing the strength in a dominant scrum.

It’s now onward to Kimberley, where WP face Griquas in the final.

SCORERS

Western Province – Tries: Sidney Tobias, Ederies Arendse, Nic Fenton-Wells. Conversions: Demetri Catrakilis (3). Penalties:

Catrakilis (4).

Pumas – Try: JW Jonker. Penalties: JC Roos (5)

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2012 in Rugby

 

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Stormers face another player crisis

The Stormers’ steely resolve will be subjected to further stringent tests in the next few weeks as their loose forward crisis has taken a turn for the worse.

They grinded out an uninspiring 16-14 win over the Cheetahs at Newlands on Saturday that came at great cost with eighthman Nizaam Carr suffering a knee injury in the first half.

Stormers coach said after the match that Carr’s injury looked serious.

“The injury to Carr doesn’t look good and it (the injury) looks like it will be long-term,” Coetzee said after the match.

The Stormers had flown in London Irish loose forward Jebb Sinclair last week, with long-term injuries to first-choice players in Schalk Burger, Duane Vermeulen and Nick Koster.

More woes followed when Carr’s loose forward partner, Rynhardt Elstadt, was given a yellow card after a scuffle.

Elstadt could be slapped with a ban after the incident was reviewed, robbing the Stormers of his services for their coming matches.

Also likely to be cited were Stormers hooker Deon Fourie and the Cheetahs’ loose forward Ashley Johnson, who were issued with off-field yellow cards for throwing punches in the mass fight.

After the match Coetzee and Stormers captain Jean de Villiers made no effort to hide their disappointment with the team’s inept performance.

“It is not an excuse but once again it was a poor performance after a bye week,” said Coetzee.

“We’ll have to improve if we are going anywhere in this competition.”

De Villiers said the performance was “poor” and some of performances of the Springboks were not up to scratch.

“There were performances (by Springboks) out there that were not worthy of the Springbok jersey,” said De Villiers.

“We won but we are not happy about the way we played in the second half.

Naka Drotske said defeat was disappointing especially because his side had done their homework and knew what to expect at Newlands.

“We know that the Stormers score 65% of their points from penalties and then we give away penalties because of ill-discipline in our own half,” said Drotske

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2012 in Rugby

 

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Empty-handed Ferguson remains upbeat

London – Alex Ferguson remained defiantly upbeat after a 20th English title was snatched from Manchester United’s clutches on Sunday – but when the dust settles on a dramatic season the wily Scot will ponder long on where it went wrong.

He talked up the experience gained by new signings such as Phil Jones and Ashley Young, whose first title chase ended in bitter disappointment as they lost out on goal difference to Manchester City despite ending with a very healthy 89 points.

Ferguson can also point to injuries and illness to key players, particularly leading central defender Nemanja Vidic and midfield workhorse Darren Fletcher.

“We take great credit from the fact that we have had so many injuries this season and we’ve coped with that very well. They are only young players, it was excellent for them,” Ferguson said on Sunday, offering a silver lining to the club’s fans who have no trophy to celebrate for the first time since 2005.

“They’ve experienced what has happened today and they’ll be around in five, six or 10 years time for Manchester United. The experience is good for them, even if it’s a bad one.”

“I would like to say on behalf of Manchester United, congratulations to our neighbours,” he added.

“It is a fantastic achievement to win the Premier League, it’s not easy to win, it’s the hardest league in the world and anyone that wins it deserves it.

“It was a cruel way but we’ve experienced many ups and downs in the 25 years that I’ve been here and most of them have been great moments. We have won the league three times in the last five seasons and we nearly did it again today.

“I’m pleased with their performance this season. With 89 points, it would have been good enough to win most leagues.”

Despite his buoyant mood after stoppage-time goals by Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero earned City a 3-2 win over QPR that rendered United’s 1-0 victory at Sunderland worthless, Ferguson will wonder how his side, traditionally so adept at closing out titles, squandered an eight-point lead in the closing weeks.

A 1-0 defeat at Wigan Athletic, the first ever for United at the humble north-west club, offered hope to a City side who had themselves let slip a big lead after a post-Christmas slump that looked to have scuppered their chances of a first championship since 1968.

A 4-4 draw at home to Everton, despite leading 4-2 with seven minutes left, smacked of carelessness and while Ferguson blamed poor defending, the fingers were pointed at him as United lost 1-0 at City on April 30.

United were strangely negative that day, seemingly set on defending a three-point lead rather than chasing the victory that would virtually have sealed the title.

It was a defeat that took matters out of United’s hands and while they finished with wins over Swansea City and Sunderland, City’s stoppage time 3-2 victory over QPR left United empty-handed.

While Wayne Rooney’s 27 goals under-pinned United’s assault on the title, the England striker lacked support at times with Mexican Javier Hernandez, so lethal las year, the only other player to reach double figures in the league with 10.

A lack of creativity in central midfield area was also a concern with veteran Paul Scholes coming out of retirement in January to provide guile.

At the back Rio Ferdinand’s battle scars began to catch up with him while Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are still works in progress, albeit highly-rated ones.

While United will lick their wounds, it is not all doom and gloom. Ferguson will be scouring the transfer market and with a couple of tweaks, will be ready to do battle with City again.

“We don’t need to worry about that (City),” he said. “I think we have a rich history, better than anyone, and it will take them a century to get to our level of history.

“But for us it’s still a challenge and we’re good at challenges. We’ll kick on from here

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2012 in Soccer

 

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