Griquas finished both the Super Rugby Unlocked and Currie Cup competitions without a win, while the Cheetahs ended their campaign on a high.
ONCE again it was heartbreak for Tafel Lager Griquas, after the visiting Toyota Cheetahs edged them out in the final minutes of their last Carling Currie Cup game of the season by 22 points to 18 at Kimberley’s Tafel Lager Park on Saturday afternoon.
This result meant the Griquas finished both the Super Rugby Unlocked and Currie Cup competitions without a win, while the Cheetahs ended their campaign on a high. However, Griquas scored two great tries via flanker Gideon van der Merwe and winger Daniel Kasende, while the Cheetahs only managed to score one try by hooker Marnus van der Merwe.
The hosts played pretty well in spurts, in an error-strewn and ill-disciplined match, with the visitors taking a slender 10-6 lead at the halftime break. However it was the boot of double Springbok World Cup-winner, Frans Steyn, that made the difference in the end, as he slotted five penalties and a conversion for a match haul of 17 points, giving him a deserved Man of the Match award in the end.
Griquas applied pressure from the start of the match but had an opening scoring opportunity overturned by the TMO.
Thereafter, both teams then looked to stamp their authority, but a number of mistakes meant they both missed out on good opportunities in their opponents’ 22-metre areas, before the Cheetahs finally made one count at the end of the first quarter from an attacking scrum on the Griquas 5-metre line. The Cheetahs got the ball out quick sending hooker Marnus van der Merwe crashing over next to the uprights and centre Steyn popped over the easy conversion.
Griquas had the opportunity to go for the posts and flyhalf Tinus de Beer slotted the penalty, shortly before nailing another – a 40m shot from straight in front – three minutes later to make it 7-6.
The Griquas then came out for the second half all guns blazing and were rewarded by taking the lead for the first time in the 46th minute.
The home side were then punished for some really poor discipline as they conceded eight penalties in a row which allowed the superb boot of Steyn to put his team back in front and ahead by more than a converted try during a five minute period.
Griquas replacement flyhalf George Whitehead then missed a chance to bring his side back within a try of the visitors by pushing his shot at goal wide in the 72nd minute.
But it turned out to be a blessing in disguise as Steyn’s 22m drop out went over the Griquas dead-ball line giving them a scrum on the Cheetahs 22m from which they attacked, sending the ball one way and then the other, with scrumhalf Zak Burger giving right wing Daniel Kasende a short pass, allowing him to fly threw a gap and sidestep fullback Clayton Blommetjies to go over next to the uprights.
Whitehead’s extras made it a one point game, only for the Cheetahs to move 22-18 up with another long-range Steyn penalty with just over three minutes remaining in the match.
The Griquas had two late chances to get the win with a couple of penalties in the Cheetahs 22m which they kicked to touch. However, the two following line-outs taken did not work for the home side as the hooker tried to get the ball to the back of the line-out without much success, which cost Griquas the much wanted victory.
Commenting on the match, an upset Griquas head coach Scott Mathie told the DFA after the match, that it was frustrating to take the team so close each time with no reward. He said that he also told the players that they are not quite ready to win yet. “I think that has been the case the whole of this season,” he said.
“Our discipline needs to be sorted out and that speaks to everything on the field, where we can crank down on the field and at training as well, so those are things that need to improve,” the coach lamented.
However, there were quite a few positives for the coach. “I felt that our line-outs have improved and were a lot better in this match, but we still struggled in the scrums, which will be a big work on going forward.
“The players have a pretty good idea of where they want to go and what we need to improve on, and all these losses and coming so close to all these teams, highlights a lot from a season like this.
“I think the effort from all the players has been there, but just lacked the consistency and we need the discipline to earn a win, but no doubt, the lessons learnt from this season’s campaign will certainly sharpen our skills and ability going into the rest of the year,” Mathie said.
Tafel Lager Griquas – Tries: Gideon van der Merwe, Daniel Kasende. Conversion: George Whitehead. Penalties: Tinus de Beer (2)
Toyota Cheetahs – Tries: Marnus van der Merwe. Conversions: Frans Steyn. Penalties: Frans Steyn (5)