Spare a thought for Griquas coach Dawie Theron and his players after a season during which they have added new spice to the Currie Cup competition.
SAPA reports that after 13 of 14 league matches, the men from Kimberley have not been out of the top four at any stage – and in fact were early log leaders for most of the first round with a sequence of totally unexpected wins.
They only relinquished their log lead in the last game of the first round following successive defeats to the Blue Bulls and the Sharks after they had won their first five matches.
“It seems a little unfair,” smiled Theron after his side were beaten 61-27 by the Blue Bulls at Loftus on Saturday, “to have that sort of record and then not make it to the playoffs.
“But we can, of course, still do it and we are confident of playing in the semis.”
Griquas play the Sharks, shaky in their last two matches, in hospitable Kimberley on Saturday. Two bonus points from that match will see their dream come true. Even one point could be enough, but then the Free State Cheetahs will have to return from Wellington without a bonus point win against the Boland Cavaliers.
Depth, as always, remains a problem at the smaller unions. “While the Blue Bulls and the Sharks get their Springboks back,” said Theron, “we had to start looking at club players because of injuries.”
While Theron lamented Griquas’ lack of discipline and poor options on Saturday, he pointed out that his players were tired – another result of a dearth of depth.
“Jonno (Jonathan Mokuena) has played in all our matches this season, I think it’s 26, and Ryno Barnes rested for one match. and so it goes on. But the boys will be up for the playoffs.”
Blue Bulls coach Frans Ludeke was happy with his team’s performance despite their poor patches.
“We did some things very well,” he said. “I was pleased that the guys stuck to the task – and we played some very good rugby in patches.”
Like his captain, he feels that their early try, within the first two minutes, may have affected the players’ focus and resolve.
Luke Watson, captain of Western Province who are now the log leaders after the Sharks’ failure to pick up a bonus point in their close 19-17 win against the Lions in Durban, said he was impressed by the way his side adjusted in the intense heat in beating the Boland Cavaliers 50-7 at Newlands.
“It was not easy out there today (Saturday) because of Boland’s rush defence – and the heat of course,” said Watson.
“Last week we played in water, and this week it was around 30 degrees so it was tough. But the boys kept their focus and I’m proud of them.” Allister Coetzee, the Province coach, said he felt the most impressive thing was that his side combined well on the day.
“After making eight changes, I’m pleased with the way things went,” said Coetzee. “The guys who came in for today’s match used their chances well.
“They stayed with the team’s structures even though some of them showed they were a bit rusty. It was good to see.
“To get a home semifinal was the first goal. From now on our fate is in our hands.”
The Sharks struggled to overcome the Lions, as their captain Stefan Terblanche admitted afterwards to the Sharks website.
“It was a very tough game; you have to hand it to the Lions who came here for a game of rugby,” Terblanche said.
“Although we wanted a bonus point win, first you have to win the game, and credit to the Lions who played as if their lives depended on it.
“From this game, we know we can work on our lineouts, set pieces and our work at the breakdowns; they turned us over on the ground a few times.
“We have Griquas next week and it is always tough in Kimberley, but Province have to play the Lions next week, and that will be tough. Hopefully the Lions can come to the party.”Tweet