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Griquas ready to fly

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Still a few things to iron out, but Kimberley team show they are set for Currie Cup Challenge

HANG TIME: Griquas made good use of their pre-season warm-up against a Cheetahs Under-20 XV at Tafel lager Park on Friday, outscoring their visitors 68-21. Picture: Dave Alexander

With the knowledge that South Africa’s premier domestic rugby competition, the Absa Currie Cup kicks off this weekend, the Tafel Lager Griquas put everything into their warm-up match on Friday against a Cheetahs Under-20 team.

The final score of 68-21 may look pretty impressive on the scoreboard, but the Kimberley team, who have set a high standard for themselves, will be a bit uneasy due to them still making far too many basic errors for their liking.

Satisfactory

There were some wild passes that went astray, a few handling errors, a number of knock-ons, two or three overturns in the loose and some misjudged line-outs; all-in-all however Friday’s run was a satisfactory preparation.

Griquas now know exactly what they have to work on at practice this week with their first assignment of this year’s competition being a clash in Nelspruit against the Pumas team who just managed to beat them in that final of the SuperSport Rugby Challenge on July 15.

Griquas conditioning and fitness coach, Neil Murphy spoke to the DFA after the game, saying that overall things seem to be on track for the team. “It was a decent game and we got mostly what we wanted out of the game,” Murphy said. “Only problem was the breakdown where the referee was not strict enough and allowed turnovers for them to score two tries through our own mistakes.

“Our set piece were good and we really wanted our rucks and mauls to work and I think we achieved it well most of the time,” he added.

Murphy also said that there were some good contributions by the fringe players. “It was good to see the second team that came on as replacements, stick their hands up in an effort to make selection for the Pumas a competitive one.

“(It was) good to close the game like we did, as we buried the young Cheetahs during the last 30 minutes they had no answer to our well-structured attack and our tempo.

“We are looking forward to the start of Currie Cup,” Murphy said.

It was good to see Griquas starting off well, racing to a 14-point lead, before the Cheetahs could regroup.

Unfortunately, however, hooker Khwezi Mkhafu missed two line-out throws and Griquas coughed up the ball twice to allow the visitors back into the game with two tries from inside their own 22, with Griquas’ cover defence pretty poor.

One spectator, interviewed after the game, also made an observation about Griquas: “The backline passing was somewhat predictable and showed little penetration,” he said.

Another positive sign for Griquas is that their scrumming was excellent throughout the match as was their mauling after the ball was secured by the hosts at the line-outs. Griqua fullback Luxolo Ntsepe looked full of running as did new centre Edwin Sass.

The exciting Jono Janse van Rensburg was everywhere as usual and the Free State youngsters struggled to patch up the holes in their defence.

In the second half Griquas seemed to kick into gear with the team managing to keep ball in hand while creating spaces to run in a number of tries.

Griquas’ defence and tackling was also clinical, especially since the visitors never gave up and mounted wave after wave of attacks on the Griqua tryline right up until the final whistle.

At the end of the day, on the verge of the Currie Cup it seems as if Griquas have a well-balanced squad and this bodes well for the season ahead.