Victory is just around the corner, says bullish EP Elephants coach
There was not the luxury of returning to a comfortable hotel room and putting their feet up for the EP Elephants after they were edged 22-17 by arch-rivals the Border Bulldogs in East London on Friday night.
Instead, the weary players had to head straight for their team bus and a long 300km late-night journey home to Port Elizabeth after the game ended at 9pm.
It must have been a long road trip for the team after a narrow third consecutive defeat in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge.
It would appear that the travel arrangements faced by the Elephants are indicative of the tight financial situation in which South African rugby finds itself.
Undaunted after three losses, bullish Elephants coach Ryan Felix believes a first win is just around the corner for his young team.
The Elephants have an opportunity to break their SuperSport Rugby Challenge duck when they face the Boland Cavaliers in Montagu on Saturday.
EP were leading 10-3 at the break in East London, but failed to hold off a determined Border charge in the second half.
The Elephants’ defeat left them stranded at the bottom of the log.
Champions Western Province trampled the Elephants 59-12 in their opening game in Kwazakhele last month, leaving Felix in no doubt of the tough challenges ahead of his side.
His team, however, were far more competitive in their second outing when they put up a fighting performance before going down 34-20 to the Eagles.
“This is a work in progress, but we will get there and I think that first win for the Elephants is around the corner,” Felix said.
“We created a lot of opportunities against Border.
“It was a game we could have won.
“The boys are still fighting and are showing improvement with every game they play.
“We must not look at the results at this stage, as long as there is improvement in our play. And the players must understand the process going forward with this young team.”
The Cavaliers moved into second place on the log with a convincing 37-12 win over the Eagles in their last match.
The 15 teams in the competition are divided into three regional pools (North, South and Central) of five teams.
Each team will play home and away matches against the other four teams in their pool over a 10-week period.
The top two teams from each pool, along with the two third-placed teams with the best record, will progress to the playoffs, which will comprise quarterfinals, a semifinal and a final.
Champions WP have made a flying start to the competition and are topping the South Section log after winning their opening three matches.