Saturday saw a scrappy, low-scoring game in Kimberley and Griquas were very lucky to escape with a draw.
ON SATURDAY it was there for all to see, Tafel Lager Griquas, on their home ground, trailed 5-3 after a really poor first half thanks to non-functioning line-outs, poor scrummaging and far too many missed tackles.
Yes, eventually Griquas made it through to the semi-finals of the Carling Currie Cup but they had to hold off a determined series of attacks by the visiting Pumas as the game wound down.
Saturday saw a scrappy, low-scoring game in Kimberley and Griquas were very lucky to escape with a draw as the New Nation Pumas, who unfortunately miss out on a play-off berth after showing so much consistency during the tough 2021 Currie Cup competition, did most of the playing on the day.
It is possible that the Pumas were banking on securing the fourth position on the log even if they lost, that is if the Sharks had beaten Western Province in their fixture in chilly Duban. However, it was not to be. Province turned up the heat and beat the Sharks 35-24.
In Kimberley, the highlight for Griquas was their defensive tackling which was solid and committed throughout. It was thanks to this defensive structure that the team secured the draw when it seemed throughout the game as if the Pumas would win.
Also impressive was Jonathan Francke who once again played his heart out and Chris Hollis for his part looks strong and committed. Up front Stefan Willemse was all over the field, especially in the first half – it was as if he had cloned himself.
For once the usually effective Griqua loose-forwards were nullified, but through no fault of their own. They continue to work hard, but Jimmy Stonehouse, the Pumas coach must have drawn a target on the Griqua loosies in his plans to conquer Kimberley.
However, a few more painful questions must be asked.
Firstly, why can the Griqua hookers not throw the ball into the line-outs accurately? The Pumas contested well, but many of the Griqua balls were overthrown and became a lottery – this is a recurring problem.
Since when does the attacking team, close to the opposition’s tryline, throw the ball in deep, over the line-out, when it is glaringly obvious that the defensive team’s backline is closer to the line-out due to them being so close to their own try-line? It defies logic.
So, what can be done going forward against teams that will not be as forgiving as the Pumas were on Saturday?
Surely it is time for Cameron Lindsay to start so that Griquas can consistently win their own line-outs?
The other concern for Griquas is that Adre Smith has to learn to control his emotions on the field. He is an aggressive ‘meanie’ and has a lot of potential but we cannot play with seven forwards for ten minutes every time he is overcome by the red mist on the field.
Surely Andrew Beerwinkel is a better loose-head prop, as was demonstrated in the scrums near the end of the match.
Also, it has to be said that Griquas will need to improve in their tight phases next week if they are to have any hope of winning.
What also hurts the Kimberley team time and time again is the fact that they take far too much time to clear behind the scrum or loose-scrum. The team needs to secure quick ball to put them on the attack. When they clear so slowly, they put themselves under pressure and are forced to kick, which in essence means giving the ball to the opposition, and putting Griquas on the defence.
And it has to be noted that in the professional game, opposition teams can be creative on attack.
Griqua coach Scott Mathie in his comments after the game lamented the needless errors by his team. “It was not a good game at all, it was very tight and we made lots of errors. We really struggled to get any attacks going through not winning any line-out ball.
“So that was all disappointing, but I thought our defence was good, as we stopped their mauls very well and we took that away from them.
“We were able to hang in there as this was the sign of a quality side that can hang in and weather the storm when you need to. I felt we did that well and were able to get something out of the game.”
Mathie added that all the heart-flutters have to be put behind them now as the team resets for the challenge of the play-offs. “We are very happy that we are through to the semis and we can now focus on the Sharks,” he said.
So despite an unnecessarily scary game against the Pumas to reach the 2021 Currie Cup semi-finals, Griqua supporters can rejoice, as their team has made it into the play-offs. And even at this stage it is not premature to say well done to all the coaching staff and players.
The Currie Cup semi-finals will play out in Pretoria on Friday and Durban on Saturday.
In the first semi-final, the Bulls will host Western Province at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, where kick-off is scheduled for 7pm on Friday, September 3.
The second semi-final kicks off at 5pm on Saturday, September 4 at Park in Durban, between the Sharks and Griquas.
The Currie Cup Final is scheduled for Saturday, September 11.
The Bulls finished the campaign on top of the standings. The Sharks ended in second place, while Griquas secured third place with their 13-all draw with the Pumas. Western Province sneaked into fourth place after their 35-24 bonus-point win over the Sharks on Saturday.
Friday, September 3
Bulls vs Western Province
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Assistant referees: TBC
Saturday, September 4:
Sharks vs Griquas
Venue: Kings Park, Durban
Assistant referees: TBC