Home Sport Suzuki Griquas warmed up and ready to compete

Suzuki Griquas warmed up and ready to compete

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The SA Cup competition will feature a total of 46 games, and is set to commence on Human Rights Day, March 21 with Griquas hosting the Leopards at Suzuki Park in Kimberley, in a match kicking off at 3pm in what will be the official start to the provincial season for 2024.

In their last clash against the Leopards in November last year, Griquas put their visitors to the sword with a dominant display. File Picture: Danie van der Lith

The Suzuki Griquas enjoyed an impressive run in their preparation for the SA Cup, clinching three consecutive wins in warm-up matches during the run-up to the newly-introduced provincial rugby competition.

Most recently, on Tuesday, March 12, Griquas secured their third straight win in the warm-ups putting Central Region neighbours the Cheetahs to the sword in Jacobsdal. For the Cheetahs, it was their first outing without a lot of their star players such as Ruan Pienaar, Reinhardt Fortuin and Dan Kasende, just to name a few.

A few weeks earlier, the Kimberley team had dismantled Boland 16-34 in Saldanha; this after crushing Western Province 17-36 just a few days earlier at the same venue.

This past week’s encounter at Landboudal saw Griquas, fielding a formidable line-up, and they managed to edge past the Cheetahs with a final score of 25-22.

The SA Cup competition will feature a total of 46 games, and is set to commence on Human Rights Day, March 21 with the Suzuki Griquas hosting the Leopards at Suzuki Park in Kimberley, in a match kicking off at 3pm in what will be the official start to the provincial season for 2024.

This competition could be a lifeline for struggling unions who are not exposed to enough games against top class opponents. The competition aims to bridge the gap between pre-season and the Currie Cup, and it replaces the Mzanzi Challenge which served a similar purpose last year.

Ten provincial sides will face each other over nine consecutive weeks, and at the conclusion of the league phase, the two top ranked sides will compete in the SA Cup Final on the weekend of May 24 and 25.

This will serve as the perfect foundation for the 2024 Currie Cup which is scheduled to kick off in July and will run until the end of September.

No doubt, Griquas are probably quivering with anticipation and raring to go after taking the opportunity to give players a run and test combinations and tactics during the recent warm-up games.

Despite the Leopards putting up a brave fight, Griquas still secured a commanding 52-23 win in Kimberley last year. File Picture: Danie van der Lith

Speaking to the DFA on Wednesday, Griquas head coach Pieter Bergh expressed his satisfaction with the team’s performance in the warm-up matches. Bergh emphasised the importance of these matches in preparing for the upcoming season, highlighting the opportunity to test different player combinations and build depth within the squad.

“We are very happy with how the warm-up matches went,” said Bergh. “Winning all three matches provided excellent preparation for the season ahead, which kicks off next Thursday. The match against the Cheetahs allowed us to utilise players who hadn’t featured much in the earlier matches and give rest to those who had seen significant game time.”

The Kimberley team will be especially keen to make a statement on Thursday after recently securing a new sponsor when Suzuki Auto South Africa announced its partnership with the Griqualand West Rugby Union (GWRU), marking a significant milestone in South African sports history. Suzuki Auto will serve as the naming sponsor for both the team and their home ground, which is now the Suzuki Stadium.

Thursday may be slightly cooler than the past week of scorching temperatures, which could free the Griquas to run at their opponents even harder. File Picture: Danie van der Lith

Bergh assured the DFA of his team’s readiness for the upcoming season, emphasising their goal to enter the Currie Cup with renewed confidence, determined to secure additional silverware.

He further emphasised the depth the team has developed throughout the pre-season and during the Airlink Cup, particularly in positions like centre and among the loose forwards. The coach acknowledged the competition for places in the squad, especially in the lock position, which is a good ‘problem’ to have since it presents a welcome challenge for the coaching staff.

“The competition between players for places is exactly what a coach wants,” Bergh noted. “It pushes each player to perform at their best, ultimately benefiting the team as a whole.”

Reflecting on the match against the Cheetahs, Bergh highlighted the team’s accuracy in the opening stages but also noted areas that needed improvement. “We were very accurate during the first 25 minutes of the game against the Cheetahs,” he remarked. “However, there were one or two mistakes that we needed to address. These warm-up games serve as valuable learning opportunities to refine our performance.”

With the pre-season now behind them, Bergh and the Griquas eagerly anticipate the start of the SA Cup. “We can’t wait for the season to start again,” said Bergh. “After a long pre-season, we’re ready for 10 weeks of consecutive rugby, culminating in the final. The team spirit is high, and we’re confident in our abilities.

“We’re hopeful for a successful season ahead,” he concluded.

One thing supporters can be assured of is that there is no chance that Griquas will get ahead of themselves despite a formidable record against the Leopards, having won 18 out of their last 20 encounters – overconfidence has been the undoing of many great teams, and they will bear that in mind.

Nonetheless, the Suzuki Griquas definitely enter the match as clear favourites especially since in their previous meeting against the Leopards in the Airlink Cup in November last year, Griquas showcased their dominance with a commanding 52-23 victory over a plucky Leopards side that did not stand back despite the scoreline.

In what promises to be an electrifying season ahead, the Suzuki Griquas have laid down a marker with their impressive performances in the SA Cup warm-up matches. With the backing of their dedicated fans and the support of Suzuki Auto South Africa, the team is primed to make their mark in both the SA Cup and the Currie Cup.

As they gear up to face the Leopards in their next challenge, the Griquas will look to build on their momentum and continue their winning streak, fueled by determination, skill, and the unwavering spirit of rugby excellence.

A good turnout by fans, on the public holiday, would go a long way to showing the team that their loyal supporters are behind the team all the way.

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