Home News It’s all on the line for Griquas

It’s all on the line for Griquas

Griqua captain Ruan Steenkamp on the charge during the Carling Currie Cup match against DHL Western Province at Tafel Lager Park on August 22. Picture: Frikkie Kapp, Gallo Images via BackpagePix

After an impressive Currie Cup season where Griquas have raked in some impressive wins against teams who traditionally would have brushed the Kimberley team aside, it’s the Pumas who stand in Griquas’ way to a possible place in the semi-finals of the competition.

TAFEL Lager Griquas will know that everything is on the line in their final fixture in the Carling Currie Cup competition when they host the New Nation Pumas at Tafel Lager Park on Saturday at 2.30pm.

After an impressive Currie Cup season where Griquas have raked in some impressive wins against teams who traditionally would have brushed the Kimberley team aside, it’s the Pumas who stand in Griquas’ way to a possible place in the semi-finals of the competition.

After 11 rounds of competition Griquas have stumbled a number of times losing games that they should have won; however, they have also won games that no one expected them to win. The game that stands out in the current season is the win over Western Province in Cape Town after a 110-year dry spell in the Mother City.

Griqua captain Ruan Steenkamp spoke to the DFA on Thursday ahead of the Puma clash, and spoke with pride of their win over Province in Cape Town.

“It was a great win against Western Province,” he said. “At the end of the day we did what we wanted to do. We had full control of the game. We had the ball in hand and with that in hand you could score tries”.

Currently, as things stand, Griquas have secured five wins with the same number of losses and a single drawn match putting them in third place on the Currie Cup log, a single point ahead of the Pumas thanks to the Peacock Blues earning enough bonus points along the way to secure their current log position.

Scott Mathie and his troops will be leaving nothing to chance tomorrow. In order for Griquas to take their own fate in their hands and qualify outright for the sought-after semi-final spot they must avenge themselves on the Pumas in Kimberley. That is the easy, straightforward part. Back in July the Pumas outmuscled Griquas in Mbombela, winning that match 26-22.

In that game the Kimberley team had given a good account of themselves in the first half and went to the break 16-15 ahead, but poor line-out throw-ins, slow backup from forwards, tardy cleaning out from set pieces and slow passing at the breakdowns ultimately proved the undoing of the Peacock Blues.

Speaking to the DFA after that match the Griqua coach could not hide his disappointment. “We didn’t do our set-piece part … I think that was the difference between the two teams. (Had) we scored from one of our five-meter line-outs and got a line-out maul then we (would have won) the game,” Mathie told the DFA after the Mbombela game back in early July.

The good thing – if there was a positive in that match – was the fact that thanks to George Whitehead’s accurate boot, Griquas picked up a vital bonus point, and currently it’s that single point that is the difference between the teams on the log.

The Griqua captain also gave his views on Saturday’s important dogfight with the Pumas.

“We are ready and are looking forward to playing against them,” Steenkamp said. “Our previous game in Nelspruit was a very tight battle. But we are aware this is a new match and we must start it from scratch.

“We know that the Pumas are a very physical team in their scrum, mauls and those areas of play. If you take that away from them and go for a physical game and control the game tactically then you can come out tops at the end.

“It is going to be a tough game. I guarantee you that,” the skipper added.

What Griquas have to be reminded of is that they were seldom completely dominated by teams in this year’s competition. Defeats came their way because of their own mistakes. When Griquas were focused and diligently followed their game plan they brushed the competition aside. In addition to beating Western Province 28-30 in Cape Town, they beat the Lions 31-41 in Johannesburg and the Sharks 37-27 in Durban.

Steenkamp said they were aware of how they were their own worst enemies at times.

“I must point out that before the WP game (in Cape Town) we had lost two matches. I don’t want to go so far as to say we actually lost against ourselves but there were instances where we had ‘soft moments’ in games.

“We made silly mistakes which in the end allowed those okes (their opponents) to capitalise on it and score tries.

“I think that is something we got right in the WP game and we didn’t let it happen again.”

Steenkamp added, however, that Saturday’s match is a blank canvas with no guarantees. “With the Pumas coming this weekend it’s naturally going to be a big battle,” he said.

But what if Griquas are beaten by the Pumas on Saturday? What then?

The more treacherous route to the semis is that Griquas will then have to wait out the result of the Cell C Sharks vs DHL Western Province game happening at 7pm in Durban on Saturday.

A defeated Griquas would then be looking for the Sharks to dunk Western Province meaning that WP, who are only three points behind Griquas on the log would have no chance of overhauling the Kimberlites. But a big bonus point win for Province would send Griquas back to the ‘if-only- drawing board.

However, multiple Currie Cup winners Western Province have mostly been off the pace this season and look nowhere near as potent as the team of a couple of seasons back. Just last week they were hammered 46-25 in Kimberley, and before that they came out 13-35 losers against the Sigma Lions and drew 40-40 at home against the Pumas.

So, in general Griquas have performed above average this season, but the Pumas have also shaken off the perpetual underdog tag and have had their fair share of the spotlight this season with memorable wins.

In addition to their 40-all draw at Newlands in mid August they had notched up a 36-33 win against Sigma Lions in July.

Saturday’s match will not be a walkover for either team although Griquas are the obvious fan favourites being at home with record-breaking wins in the bag against formidable opponents this season. Griquas have oodles of self-confidence this season, but they have to very wary of over-confidence.

For their part the Pumas will remember how they defended wave after wave of Griqua attack in Mbombela for that 26-22 win their last meeting and wil take courage from that performance.

The DFA spoke to what can be best described as a rugby fanatic who asked not to be named. This supporter probably summed up the wishes of every Griqua supporter when he said, “Griquas can win and get five points out of it. A win will properly cement their position on the log.

“I would prefer them to play the Sharks and not the Bulls in the semi-final.”

So on Saturday all eyes will be on Tafel Lager Park, and Griquas will hopefully feel the positive energy of their supporters as they push for what many believe they richly deserve … a shot at glory.

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