The win was the first for Griquas in 110 years. The last time the Kimberley team beat WP in Cape town was back in 1911.
THE BUS trip from Cape Town to Kimberley can be long; the trek through the Karoo usually drains the most seasoned travellers. But for the Tafel Lager Griqua team that were returning after beating a strong DHL Western Province team in their backyard this trip was different – they were flying high.
This Griqua team had shown amazing guts and determination to beat the more fancied and stronger WP side 30-28 in a historical fourth round Carling Currie Cup fixture at the Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday.
The win was the first for Griquas in 110 years. The last time the Kimberley team beat WP in Cape town was back in 1911. To put that into context, it was on June 18 of that year that John Weston flew the first flight in Kimberley in his Weston-Farman biplane creating a South African a flight record of eight-and-a-half minutes.
A visibly happy Griqua coach, Scott Mathie spoke to the DFA after the long trip home.
“Yes, it has been a long bus trip, (but) it was a special victory (on Wednesday) and we are proud of the guys. The biggest thing was that they didn’t stop working and I think the team showed courage and character the way they continued to work hard and believe they could continue to fight.
The visitors had started off poorly when the home side took an early lead with a converted try. However, Griquas came back shortly and levelled the scores after with a great try by Ashlon Davids that was converted by George Whitehead.
After their rather ordinary game against the Pumas in Mbombela last time out, there was massive improvement in how Griquas fielded the opposition kick-offs. Davids, it has to be said, had a good game at fullback, scoring that brave opening try.
There were not many scrums in this game, but Griquas coped well and there was a marked improvement in the line-outs.
“Our intentions were very good on the day,” Mathie continued. “But we still have to sit down and sort out our set-piece defence against the maul. And that is an area to really focus on, an area we did work on last year. So we need to get that detail right now – our maul stoppage.
The biggest improvement for Griquas on Wednesday was, as the coach said, in the way that the team refused to lie down despite being behind on the scoreboard near the end of the match.
Province must have thought they had the game won when Griquas missed a penalty for touch near the end of the game, but the visitors had other ideas. Reagan Oranje at scrumhalf kept the ball moving from side to side and the team’s will to win was undeniable.
The backline tackled and carried well with Jonathan Francke showing that there is still life in those legs.
The loose-forwards for their part were quick to the loose ball and Hanru Sirgel, particularly, carried bravely.
The Griqua forwards had struggled to stop the Province rolling mauls during the game, but the Kimberley team got their revenge in the last minute when they dotted down after their own rolling maul right at the death.
And even though their defence of the rolling maul still needs some work, Mathie looked at what the team had done right.
“Besides that (the rolling maul) our defence was very sound. I think the game went very well as we were patient and the big difference in this game was we scrummed well. We were able to take our opportunities when it came, which we didn’t do well last week against the Pumas.
“However this week we managed to sort it (the maul) out and no better time to do it like in the last minute, as well as to slot that conversion by George Whitehead. A great improvement and we can take a lot of confidence from it,” the coach said.
Now Griquas have to come down to earth soon, because they next face the Bulls on Saturday at the Toyota Stadium, which is never an easy prospect whether home or away.