Make or break for Warriors

Victory today likely to ensure playoff berth

The Warriors enter the last-chance saloon today in their quest to reach the Momentum One-Day Cup playoff on Sunday.

The Eastern Cape franchise takes on the Highveld Lions in a clash at St George’s Park that means very little but pride to the visitors, but everything to the home side.

A crushing loss at the hands of the Titans in Benoni on Tuesday means the Warriors are in a must-win situation. Anything less than a victory will see them tumble out of the competition.

As a result of their log position, the fourth-placed Warriors are unlikely to host a playoff, but a win would almost certainly clinch third position and an away playoff berth.

The second-placed Dolphins and third-placed Knights play each other in Durban, also today.

If the Warriors win against the Lions, the loser of the clash in Durban will be knocked out to make way for captain Jon-Jon Smuts’s team.

Those are the simple permutations if one excludes the possibility of a tie or a rain out in Durban.

The Warriors will not go down without a fight, especially at St George’s Park, where they have not lost in any format of the game this season.

They have played eight games at St George’s this season and have won seven of them with the remaining match being abandoned because of rain.

Five of those seven victories have come in white ball cricket which underlines their dominance in limited overs in Port Elizabeth this season.

Having been outplayed by the Titans, the Warriors will be looking to the comforts of home to give them the edge tonight.

But coach Malibongwe Maketa is not reading too much into statistics.

“In these games it doesn’t matter if you are home or away. It’s about who handles the pressure situations better,” he said.

“We take pride in the fact that we have had a few knockout games in the last few seasons with the same group of players. Hopefully, that will stand us in good stead against the Lions.”

The coach is looking for a much-improved performance from his middle order after it failed against the Titans.

“We didn’t rock up at all in Benoni,” Maketa said yesterday. “Unfortunately, the top order has been doing all the work.

“It was a great opportunity for our middle order, who have not really had a chance to stake their claim until Tuesday.

“They didn’t take it which was quite disappointing with the amount of work they have put in.”

Maketa knows there is no margin for error today.

“For us, it’s a quarterfinal. We are looking forward to the pressure. We have to make sure we rock up and perform the basic skills that we pride ourselves on.

“We need to take care of ourselves by winning and whatever happens that side [in Durban] is out of our control.”

The Warriors squad:

Colin Ackermann, Colin Ingram, Gihahn Cloete, Aya Gqamane, Andrew Birch, Jerry Nqolo, Lesiba Ngoepe, Jon-Jon Smuts, Kelly Smuts, Yaseen Vallie, Basheer Walters, Sisanda Magala, Anrich Nortje The remaining matches are: Today: Warriors v Lions, Dolphins v Knights, Titans v Cobras Sunday: 2nd v 3rd qualifier March 31: Final

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