A youngster with gallons of talent

2016-04-06 06:00

THE KISS of Death belongs to the crime novel. The Smile of Death in cricketing terms belongs with little doubt to a fair-haired New Zealand rugby fullback named Damian McKenzie. He is just 20 and last weekend, leading the Chiefs’ 48-23 demolition of the Brumbies in Canberra, he must surely have anxiety-packed shivers down the spines of his opponents whenever he touched the ball.

It’s all in the cheeky grin he directs at the very heart of the TV camera as he lines up his kicks at the posts. It’s enough to unsettle the toughest opponents.

It certainly looked that way as the youngster sent three conversions and four penalties through the posts, and for good measure added a try – his seventh of the season – in the dying minutes of the Chiefs’ defeat of the Brumbies. The overall tally of 23 points from McKenzie made up very nearly half his team’s winning total.

Watch this youngster. He has every reason to grin. Playing this kind of rugby it can’t be long before this young smiling assassin climbs to his highest rung of his country’s rugby ladder – the right to wear the All Black jersey itself.

Nearer home – Jo’burg’s Ellis Park – the Lions somehow managed to squander 60 % of possession against the visiting Crusaders to go down to the New Zealanders in a tight, hard-fought match. This was not the usual lion-hearted stuff from the local side and coach Johan Ackermann must have seethed at some of the chances his team let slip.

To a disappointingly small crowd here at home in PE, the Southern Kings scored a see-sawing 33-28 victory over the Sunwolves. It was the Kings’ first Super Rugby win of the season. The teams were 23-23 at the break. It was a much-improved outing by the Eastern Cape outfit, who were particularly impressive on defence.

The Bulls at home to the Cheetahs – after leading 20-10 at the break – just managed to hold on for a 23-18 win in a tense second half. The Free Staters, too, showed great courage on defence. It looked like anybody’s game in a tense first half as the visitors gradually fought their way back. But it was not to be as the Bulls hung on tenaciously.

Don’t ask what cuss word burst from Durban-born England opening batsman, Jason Roy’s lips as he rejoined his teammates after his knock in the final of the World T20 cricket match against the West Indies in Kolkata at the weekend. Who could blame him? He was out for a very large ugly duck to the second ball of the match.

Things might have been much different if he’d delivered his usual steady contribution to England’s tally. With the game see-sawing back and forth until England were finally out for 156 it was still anyone’s game.

The West Indians, too, lost early wickets and with three overs to go the game was still very much in the balance. In a thrilling finish, however, Windies’ hero, Marlon Samuels, and the towering young Braithwaite, also undefeated, after smashing four successive sixes, saw the West Indies grab a memorable victory. What a match it was!

With cricket and rugby of this calibre to stay at home for, one has to wonder: how are the movie theatres doing these days!

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