Valke coach Rudy Joubert has re-jigged his team for the crucial away clash against Griquas this weekend.
The unfancied East Rand side started the season like a house on fire, narrowly losing to Boland before recording upset wins over Griquas and Western Province. Their fortunes haven’t been so good in th last few rounds, though, conceding a bonus point to the Sharks (after controlling much of the game) before conceding 50 points to the Cheetahs and Bulls on successive weekends. Another narrow loss against Boland last week saw them lose further ground, although a win over Griqaus could, somewhat surprisingly, propel them into 5th spot, above WP!
Whatever the case, the Valke have won many fans this season with the entertaining, high tempo brand of rugby they’ve been playing.
Former Sharks age-group flanker Reg Muller has been a star for the Red Devils, but he is forced to sit out this week as a result of a hamstring injury. His place will go to on-loan Bulls player Emile Verster. The pack looks strong, with former Sharks Jody Jennker and Wouter Moore (also now with the Bulls and on loan) fixtures in the tight five. Reg Perkins is on the other flank, having recovered from a slight injury sustained during a post-practice punch-up. You just can’t beat the East Rand! Sean Plaatjes, still going strong at 50, will provide go forward (coupled with much profanity) from number 8, as he as all season long.
Scrumhalf Poerie van Rooyen and mercurial flyhalf Len Olivier will take over at halfback this week. I’m not sure exactly what van Rooyen did wrong to end up with that nickname, but if he can supply enough good, quick ball to Olivier, expect the Valke to run riot. Centres Hanno Coetzee and Ruan Cloete have looked one of the more settled partnerships in this years competition and there is the ever-present threat of Bulls battering ram Dewald Pretorius on the wing. Speedster Nicky Kritzinger takes over from the injured Johan Jackson at fullback.
Valke: Nicky Kritzinger; Dewald Pretorius, Rouan Cloete, Hanno Coetzee (capt), Ernie Kruger; Len Olivier, Poerie van Rooyen; Sean Plaatjies, Emile Verster, Warren Perkins, Marius Coetzer, Wouter Moore, Nico Pretorius, Jody Jeneker, Rassie van Vuuren. Reserwes: Frik Venter, Rayno Barnes, Ruhan van Jaarsveld, Doepie du Preez, Dean Okkers, Gerrie Odendaal, Mpho Matsaung.Tweet