Last year's finalists will again fight it out for 2019 Supersport Rugby challenge title
After emphatic wins by Tafel Lager Griquas and ISG Pumas in the semi-finals of the SuperSport Rugby Challenge at the Kanyamazane Stadium in Nelspruit on Sunday, these teams will now prepare to face each other in this year’s final at the Saldanha Stadium in Saldanha Bay on Sunday, June 23.
With the defending champion Pumas having beaten Griquas 37-28 in their round-robin fixture about a month ago, Jimmy Stonehouse’s men will probably go into this year’s final as favourites to defend their title, especially after also narrowly beating Griquas in last year’s final.
Third time lucky
By contrast, Brent Janse van Rensburg and his charges will hope it’ll be third time lucky after making all three of the competition’s finals to date, without being able to win it. Adding to the potentially spicy nature of the decisive match, it was Janse van Rensburg who coached the Pumas to their title last year.
On Sunday Griquas had the better of DHL Western Province in the first semi-final, winning the match 50-21, after enjoying a narrow 15-11 half-time lead, while in the second semi-final, the Pumas beat the Boland Cavaliers 57-32, with the half-time score already at 31-16.
Although Griquas produced a polished display they produced a somewhat messy first-half display, making a few basic errors despite looking the better side. In the second half, Griquas came into their own and outmuscled the Province pack and the try count mounted.
Good scrummaging and, on the whole, good line-out play kept the pressure on and the Province forwards faded as the game went on.
One spectator remarked: “This was a very good win for a well-coached Griquas team.”
The Griqua head coach said that the Kimberley team had made things more difficult than it should have been. “We started off well with a quick try. But thereafter placed ourselves under pressure with poor execution, game management and just losing possession far too easily, particularly in the collision and break down,” he said.
“Added to this we squandered too many opportunities in the first half and allowed Province to edge back scoreboard pressure by half-time.”
However, the Griqua coach said he was pleased with what happened in the second half. “I was particularly happy with our second-half performance where we were more decisive and made more accurate decisions.
“We showed far more desire to look after our possession and started to get more urgency to win the collisions and clean out at breakdowns. Some quality tries were scored and our set-pieces also functioned pretty well, towards the end,” Janse van Rensburg said.
Looking ahead to the final and the preparations that have to be done ahead of that game, the coach wasn’t giving much away. “Our concentration will mainly focus on mental and physical recovery that will now take place, followed by revising this match and topping up on what the Pumas will present,” he said.
Griquas, (Tries): Enver Brandt (2), Gideon van der Merwe (2), Eduan Keyter, Zak Burger, Anthony Volmink. (Conversions): George Whitehead (6). (Penalty): Whitehead.
Western Province, (Tries): Craig Barry, Brandon Valentyn. (Conversion): Abner van Reenan. (Penalties): Van Reenan (3).