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Griquas have raised themselves for this

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At this stage of the competition last year Griquas beat the Golden Lions XV by a comfortable margin of 33-21 in the 2017 semi-final

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The Tafel Lager Griquas are all too aware that tomorrow’s SuperSport Rugby Challenge semi-final clash against the Toyota Free State XV at Tafel Lager Park is going to be anything but a walk in the park.

Griquas have this mountain of a challenge to climb before they can even think of plotting their way ahead in this competition, with the nagging reminder at the back of their minds that their Central
Region neighbours was the
one team that managed to
beat them in this competition, and to make matters worse, that defeat happened in Kimberley.

These were some of the thoughts that must have been weighing on the mind of Griquas head coach Peter Engledow ahead of tomorrow’s 3pm clash against the Free State side. “Yes before we even can think about the final we know that it is going to be a tough game against the Free State. We are traditionally the underdogs when we play them. It’s not going to be any different this time.”

Last week Griquas managed to steamroll over a hapless Boland Cavaliers 51-22 here at home, while on Sunday Free State, for their part, had dispensed with defending champions, tournament favourites and the southern section log leaders DHL Western Province 26-20 down in Cape Town.

That set of results set up tomorrow’s clash with Griquas securing home ground advantage for the second week in a row.

Engledow said that despite the challenge his side thrives under the underdog status. “The players raise themselves up for this game and we’ve managed to do quite well against them (Free State) in the last two seasons.”

At this stage of the competition last year Griquas beat the Golden Lions XV by a comfortable margin of 33-21 in the 2017 semi-final.

Even though Engledow is reluctant to be dragged in on a likely finals scenario for Griquas, the side looks poised to be a real contender should they overcome Free State tomorrow. It should be comfort for Griqua fans to know that in the SuperSport competition favours the locals for a positive outcome.

Local Griquas fan Clive Isaacs called the DFA offices yesterday to say he was 100 percent behind the home side and that he has been a big fan since 1970.

Isaacs said he was confident that Griquas will win tomorrow by as much as a seven points difference.

“Griquas are a confident side and they are playing well,” Isaacs said.

On the down side, Engledow is still saddled with a side that looks more like a hospital ward than a club house. Thirteen of his charges are still out with minor to serious injuries. He rattled off the names of at least seven players by heart who are injured.

Tighthead Ruan Kramer will undergo a last test tomorrow morning to check his fitness to play. Otherwise Kevin Kaba is still out for the next six weeks. So are Kop van der Westhuizen, Willem Naudé the hooker, Renier Botha at scrumhalf, Eric Zana and on and on the list goes.

Meanwhile, in this weekend’s other semi final; Mpumalanga’s iCollege Pumas XV come up against the Cell C Sharks XV at 7pm this evening at the Mbombela Stadium. Between this evening’s game and tomorrow’s Tafel Park clash will emerge the contenders for the series final which is scheduled to take place next Sunday, July 15.

Griqua Team (15-1): AJ Coertzen (vc), Ederies Arendse, Christopher Bosch, Johnathan Francke, Kyle Steyn, George Whitehead, Christiaan Meyer, Conway Pretorius, Sias Koen, De Wet Kruger, Pieter van Vuren (c), Sintu Manjezi, NJ Oosthuizen, Khwezi Mkhafu, Devon Martinus. Bench: AJ le Roux, Liam Hendricks, Ruan Kramer, FP Pelser, Damian Stevens, Jonathan Janse van Rensburg, André Swarts.