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Griquas need fast start

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Griquas will not want to underestimate the Griffons as the Northern Free Staters are presently playing good rugby

READY TO FLY: Tafel Lager Griquas centre Christopher Bosch is in the team for tomorrows game against the Down Touch Griffons in Kathu. Griquas know that they have to overturn last weeks lazy start against the Toyota Free State XV. Picture: Dave Alexander

Kathu and Montagu are best known for mining and muscadel, but this weekend these towns will witness mauls, tries and tackles when the SuperSport Rugby Challenge rolls through.

The action will also return to Oudtshoorn on Sunday, when the third Rugby Festival, a double-header of provincial matches and a Gold Cup qualifier, takes place at the Bridgton Sports Ground. And two of the front-runners, the iCollege Pumas and Toyota Free State XV, will be returning to their big stadium home bases in Nelspruit and Bloemfontein respectively, confirming the tournament’s versatility when it comes to bigger or smaller venues.

The action kicks off on Friday with a mouth-watering clash in Bloemfontein, where the undefeated Toyota Free State XV, fresh off a win over the Tafel Lager Griquas host the Cell C Sharks XV in a Central Section clash.

Griquas who are currently leading the try-scoring stakes, with 24 tries in three matches, will be looking to add to that in Kathu, where they host the Down Touch Griffons at the Sivos Stadium tomorrow afternoon in the other Central Section match (the Leopards have a bye) this weekend.

No less than 232 tries have been scored in the 24 SuperSport Rugby Challenge matches played so far, averaging almost 10 tries per match.

Griquas will not want to underestimate the Griffons as the Northern Free Staters are presently playing good rugby. The Kimberley team needs to make a better start to the game than they did last week against Free State, where they made a nightmare start to the game, resulting in them trailing 24-0 at half-time.

The visitors fought back to a narrow 32-31 defeat, but head coach Peter Engledow was not a happy man after that performance, not mincing his words he tweeted: “It will be interesting to see what will happen in the next two weeks and who really wants to wear the Griquas jersey and represent the team”.

The Griffons will not have to contend with the leading try-scorer in the competition, Enver Brandt, but they will have to keep an eye on the experienced and dangerous Tythan Adams, who will start on the wing in one of 10 changes made to the side by coach Peter Engledow.

Meanwhile, Griquas conditioning coach Neil Murphy told the DFA that the team did not look good last week against the Free State XV.

“We were very disappointed with the loss against Free State last week, our defence was fair; the set pieces, especially our scrums were poor as we did not stick to systems and that is an important lesson for us – never lose sight of our own systems.

“We had very slow start to the first half and just could not find our rhythm. However, the second half was a great show of character from our boys and could have been an unbelievable comeback, but we should never have allowed them to be ahead by so far in first half.

“We worked very hard this week rectifying the issues and believe we will bounce back against a tricky Griffons outfit that always rises to the occasion when we play against each other. We know that we can finish them in the second half, but we just need a great first half start to keep them at bay,” Murphy added.

In other matches, the North Section will see log leaders, iCollege Pumas, hosting the Hino Valke in the Mbombela Stadium, while two other front-runners, the Vodacom Blue Bulls and Xerox Golden Lions XV, will meet at the Rugby Festival in the Klein Karoo. The men from Mpumalanga will back themselves to stay undefeated in this outing, while the visitors will need to find more urgency in the try-scoring stakes if they want to topple the log leaders.

The Pumas have only conceded eight tries so far, the second-best defence effort in the competition. The other undefeated team in the competition, Western Province, hold that record, for now, having only conceded seven tries in their three matches. They will highlight the Rugby Festival on Sunday when they face the SWD Eagles in Oudtshoorn.

The Capetonians have not lost a single match since the tournament started in 2017 and will be looking for a 15th consecutive victory. The Boland Cavaliers will play in Montagu for the first time since the competition started and will host the EP Elephants, who are winless after three outings. The hosts have played some great rugby in the last couple of weeks and EP will have to improve on their defence.

The Bolanders have scored 17 tries already, the same number EP conceded in three matches.

TAFEL LAGER GRIQUAS (15-1): AJ Coertzen (c), Tythan Adams, Kyle Steyn, Christopher Bosch, Godfrey Ramaboea, Pieter Steyn de Wet, Christiaan Meyer, Conway Pretorius, Sias Koen, De wet Kruger, Sintu Manjezi, Jeremy Jordaan, Ruan Kramer, Wilmar Arnoldi, Devon Martinus. Bench: Kwesi Mkhafu, Nicolaas Oosthuizen, Jonothan Janse van Rensburg, Wendal Wehr, Damian Stevens, André Swarts, Luxolo Ntsepe.