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FRONTAL ASSAULT

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The team has been hit with injuries but Griquas are determined to repeat their performance in their first encounter against DHL WP at the start of the season

ALL OUT EFFORT: Griquas held nothing back this week as they prepared for tomorrows encounter at Newlands. Picture: Dave Alexander

Tafel Lager Griquas travel down to Cape Town with a new captain at the helm and a brand new front row, determined to repeat their performance in their first encounter against DHL Western Province in the Currie Cup Premier Division earlier in the season.

Griquas beat Province 44-34 at Tafel Lager Park in early August and will be going all out tomorrow to be the first Griqua team to conquer Newlands, a task that thus far has been impossible for visiting Kimberley teams.

It goes without saying that the return fixture will be no walk in the park with Province seemingly hitting their straps, as shown in their 57-14 pasting of the defending champion Cheetahs last week also at Newlands. Griquas, meanwhile were given an eight-try rugby lesson by the visiting Sharks last week.

Last week’s result was yet another wake-up call for Griquas and this week has seen the team hold nothing back at practice, showing commitment and urgency. They have also been brushing up on improving their basic skills which has been pretty poor of late, and hopefully they will take an improved skill-set into tomorrow’s game.

Griquas head coach Peter Engledow told the DFA that a visit to the Cape was never easy, but the team is ready for any an all challenges.

“We know it is difficult going to Newlands, as we are not quite sure of the weather conditions,” the coach said. “We also have not had great success there either, but having said that we realise that we only have three important fixtures left.

“The guys have worked really hard this week on their physicality and speed to the breakdowns and set pieces, but we can only train so much We are confident that we are working on the right areas of the game and I believe that the 22 players selected will give their all in the game.”

Engledow, however said that the team has been hit quite hard with injuries lately, with Stephan Kotze (knee), Pieter Jansen van Vuren (face injury), FP Pelser (hip), Wandile Putuma (knee and quad) and Jonathan Adendorf all in the ranks of the limping wounded.

On a slightly positive note, scrumhalf Christiaan Meyer who was struggling with bronchitis will be starting on the bench. However, the coach said that the 22 selected players know that they have to be very physical and aggressive and perform with high intensity in tomorrow’s game.

“Regarding our fitness, I feel we have made progress this season,” the coach added. “But I still think we are still a bit off the mark with regards to our intensity of training and other abilities of the players.”

He said that he believed the team was just short of confidence. “I think at this stage, it is not so much a fitness problem, but a mindset and ability problem as we are much fitter this season than we were last season.”

Engledow said that, once again, there was an urgency not to switch off during the game.

“We have looked at the problem of ending the last 20 minutes (of every game) on a high note we have scored some great tries at that time. However, we have not started too many matches well so the players are conscious of that.

“We are especially focused this week on how we play the first 40 minutes, taking a substantial lead by half-time, in an effort to match the last 20 minutes of the game, where we can end off strongly. I would like us to be well in front at the break and then ensure that we up our intensity and play our brand of rugby in the last 20 minutes.”

The coach said that his team were prepared for another big challenge tomorrow. “It is going to be tough at Newlands, especially with a number of their Springboks at their disposal, but we have to go out there and fight for our wins, so we can at least end in seventh place on the log.”

The match will be screened live on SuperSport.

Griquas (15-1): Eric Zana, Ederies Arendse, Kyle Steyn, Tertius Kruger, Enver Brandt, George Whitehead (vc), Renier Botha, Kevin Kaba, Sias Koen (c), De Wet Kruger, Sintu Manjezi, Jonathan Janse Van Rensburg, Nicolaas Oosthuizen, Wilmar Arnoldi, Devon Martinus. Bench: AJ Le Roux, Liam Hendricks, Shaun McDonald, Conway Pretorius, Christiaan Meyer, Christopher Bosch, AJ Coertzen.