It was a sensational performance from the Griquas on Saturday. The backline was excellent while handling errors were practically non-existent. As for the Cheetahs, they could not say the same.
THE WINDHOEK Draught Griquas welcomed neighbours the Toyota Free State Cheetahs to a very windy Windhoek Draught Park on Saturday afternoon for their Currie Cup fixture.The stadium was a hive of activity as supporters came out in their numbers to support their team, whether it was the hosts or the visitors.
It was a sensational performance from the Griquas on the day. The backline was excellent while handling errors were practically non-existent. As for the Cheetahs, they could not say the same. The visitors’ performance was error-strewn and, on the day, they could not match the pace and quality that Griquas brought.
When the final whistle blew, Griquas were the dominant winners, hammering the Cheetahs 46-18.
Besides the thrills on the field, the atmosphere at Windhoek Draught Park gave me the feeling I got when I used to listen to a Jeremy Taylor song that was reworked by Leon Schuster, where he sings, “Ag pleez deddy won’t you take us to the rugby; All the world is coming to South Africa…” and, honestly, that is how it felt on Saturday.
For three years, Covid took away the joy of walking into a stadium and enjoying a derby between two great teams, but on Saturday with the atmosphere in Kimberley, I could just as well have been at Loftus or Ellis Park watching a big final.
Even though I was looking at the game through a camera lens, the freedom of walking around without a suffocating mask, watching and hearing supporters cheering on their teams, cold beer available on tap if you wanted, live music under the open stand, and – once again – just the feeling of being able to breathe freely gave one a sense that it was a very good day.
And it was an extremely good day for Griquas.
SA Rugby’s challenge of juggling two concurrent tournaments –the United Rugby Championship and the Currie Cup – had left both sides with little game time. Griquas went more than 21 days without a game; that’s a staggering number of days for a team hoping to build some type of momentum.
However, they were not the only victims; the Cheetahs, unbeaten at the beginning of the day, at one stage played only a single match in seven weeks during the current campaign.
— Toyota Cheetahs (@CheetahsRugby) May 28, 2022
Griquas were, however, quick to shake off the rust, giving their all and making full use of their backline. The game had barely started before Griqua centre Sango Xamlashe dived over to score the first try of the game. It was converted by Zander du Plessis.
A second quickfire try was scored by scrumhalf Johan Mulder to take Griquas into an early 12-0 lead. Ill-discipline caused the Cheetahs to be a man down for 10 minutes after a dangerous tackle, and Griquas hooker Janco Uys took advantage of the numbers advantage and dived over for his team’s third try of the afternoon immediately after the yellow was given.
Ruan Pienaar got the Cheetahs on the scoreboard via his boot, but Griquas wing Luther Obi’s bonus-point try swung the momentum back in Griquas’ favour. Four minutes before halftime, the Cheetahs gave themselves some hope as they worked space down the left side, with eighthman Mihlali Mosi powering his way over for an unconverted score to make it 24-8 at the break.
Obi first showed terrific strength and pace after the restart to burst through a couple of tackles, fend off Pienaar and go over for a try that Du Plessis converted.
Soon after, a massive maul by the hosts ended with replacement hooker Gustav du Randt dotting down for an unconverted try, putting the hosts comfortably ahead 36-8 after 49 minutes.
Griquas rubbed salt in the wounds when they forced the Free Staters to concede a penalty try with another dominant driving maul, which also saw replacement Cheetahs prop Conraad van Vuuren yellow-carded in the 69th minute.
Going into the fourth quarter, Griquas applied the brakes, valiantly resisting waves of Cheetahs raids to keep the visitors at bay.
The Cheetahs scored two late consolation tries in the hopes of earning a bonus point, but ultimately it was too little too late as they suffered their first defeat of the competition with the 46-18 scoreline.
If Griquas can consistently perform this way in the competition going forward, there is no doubt that they are serious contenders for the title.
The home supporters definitely appreciated the win; flags were being flown, songs were being sung, and overall’ everyone was just enjoying a sensational game on home soil.
After the game, I went under the open stand, and it was very nice to see people sitting there and enjoying a live performance while enjoying being able to socialise. It was good to see that the Covid pandemic could not stop the one thing that we South Africans can do, and that is to have a “kuier”.
So tonight I will be going to bed with two verses of a song stuck in my head. It goes something like this. “Daar is net een kwas en dis ’n Griekwas. Daar is net een blou en dis ’n pou blou.”
Griquas next face the DHL Stormers at the Danie Craven Stadium at 4pm on Tuesday, June 3, while the Cheetahs will be hosting the Airlink Pumas – the team Griquas will be facing on June 10 – in a match kicking off at 6pm.
For now, we celebrate an excellent win. Well done Griquas, and good luck going forward.
Windhoek Draught Griquas 46 (Tries): Sango Xamlashe, Johan Mulder, Janco Uys, Luther Obi (2), Gustav du Randt, Penalty Try; (Conversions): Zander du Plessis (3); (Penalty): George Whitehead
Free State Cheetahs 18 (Tries): Mihlali Mosi, Jeandré Rudolph, Louis van der Westhuyzen; (Penalty): Ruan Pienaar
Man of the Match: Rynhardt Jonker