With three matches left to play in the domestic cup series, Griquas are focussed on at least making the cut for a semi-final berth.
THE FREE State Cheetahs may fall foul of the plans of Windhoek Draught Griquas when the two teams meet in their Carling Currie Cup match at Windhoek Draught Park on Saturday afternoon.
On Monday this week Griquas rested the team’s head coach Pieter Bergh from doing the media press conference and roped in the services of assistant coach Brendell Brandt and Griquas back Rynhardt Jonker.
With three matches left to play in the domestic cup series, Griquas are focussed on at least making the cut for a semi-final berth and from there to possibly win the competition. Saturday’s game against the Cheetahs is the first hurdle in that quest.
This two-step manoeuvre to win the Currie Cup will help Griquas to prepare for the next season, the assistant coach said.
— Griquas Rugby (@GriquasRugby) May 24, 2022
Griquas, however, have not played a Currie Cup game in 21 days, something that plays havoc with cohesion and rhythm. The Cheetahs, also a non-URC union, have similar problems.
Last week, a match against the Junior Springboks was scheduled to compensate for a lack of match fitness, an assignment that Brandt agreed was beneficial but still wasn’t enough to maintain peak intensity.
“It’s not only about the game preparation, it’s about the mental aspect as well,” said Brandt, Griquas’ backline coach and former Bulls winger.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have an additional competition to give those fringe players game time – we are in the same boat as Cheetahs – and it’s very difficult, especially for a team like us.”
Cheetahs, though even without a lot of game time, are no pushovers. They have in the course of the season and many times before, touched the top spot of the Currie Cup log and have been flexing their muscle this year again.
Griquas have themselves just concluded a round of new season contracts with a handful of good players, which will boost their campaign.
Among those confirmed for the next season are Eddie Davids, Kudzwai Dube, Zander Du Plessis, Hanru Sirgel, Sango Xamlashe and Derik Pretorius.
Griquas are not bad travellers, and they are even more determined when playing at home. The likes of Western Province and the Vodacom Bulls know the Diamond City team’s tenacity all too well.
Coach Brandt and Jonker took turns to regale the attendant media about how they will likely dismantle the Cheetahs powerhouse.
According to Jonker the Cheetahs have a potent maul that Griquas need to counter.
“I think stopping their maul (is a way to check their momentum). Most of their tries come off their line-outs, so it’s going to be a big battle upfront as it usually is. I also think if the (Griqua) backs can get the ball in hand and move the Cheetahs around a bit we can get a lot of value from that. So yes we look forward to that,” he said.
Brandt agreed with Jonkers’ summation and responded to the question of how exactly Griquas planned to deal with a high-flying and confident Cheetahs side.
The coach said he could not downplay the impact on a team that some players have such as Ruan (Steenkamp) and others, and agreed the Cheetahs mauls were problematic.
“We just need to win the mini battles against them,” he said. “We just have to implement our game plan against them. Their momentum comes from maul tries. We know what our strengths are and this was evident in the second half against the Bulls. We just have to implement our game plan and force the game against the Cheetahs.”
Griquas have delayed naming their playing squad for the match at Windhoek Draught Park starting at 2.30pm.
Meanwhile, in the competition’s other match for the weekend the struggling Sigma Lions XV will run out against fellow strugglers DHL Western Province at 5pm at Emirates Park in Johannesburg.