Elephants face biggest test of the season at Newlands
Just how far the Multisure EP Elephants have progressed under new coach Chumani Booi will face the acid test on Saturday when they come up against table-topping Western Province at Newlands.
Western Province have been in unstoppable form in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge and are topping the South Section log thanks to four consecutive wins.
With two victories and two defeats behind their name, the Elephants are lying in fifth place, and need to win all their remaining games to have any hope of reaching the playoffs.
After romping to an easy 523 win over the Border Bulldogs, Booi knows that a much sterner test awaits his team in Cape Town.
Saturday’s game will be played as a curtain-raiser to the Stormers versus the Highlanders Super Rugby clash.
On Thursday, EP manager Thando Manana named an unchanged side for EP’s biggest test of the season as the Elephants bid to maintain continuity.
While EP are unbeaten at home, they have had no success on the road, losing to the Boland Cavaliers and Free State.
Booi said the eight tries his men scored against Border last weekend emphasised what a good attacking unit EP were.
“Against Border we saw what we could do on attack with ball in hand,” Booi said.
“Our next game is against Western Province and we will be facing tougher opposition.
“We will be humble in this victory over Border and there are still a lot of things we have to work on.
“Now we will take it one game at a time and ensure we put up good performances. The rest will take care of itself.”
EP’s coach said it was a committed defensive effort that had laid the platform for the big win over Border.
“We did a lot of good things on the field against Border, but I was most impressed with our defensive effort,” Booi said.
“All the tries we scored came as a result of our strong defence. We turned the ball over and went into attack mode.”
EP’s try scorers against Border were Michael Botha (2), Zingisa April (2), Athenkosi Mayinje, Rynardt van Wyk, Ntabeni Dukisa and Diego Williams, who will all be hungry for more points at Newlands.
In their previous game, WP scored five tries to beat Zimbabwe Academy 33-15 to maintain their position at the top of the standings.
EP captain Lubabalo “Giant” Mtyanda said his team were planning a big effort in the scrums against WP.
“There are still small things in the scrum that we need to work on. They are binding and angles and things that can change the outcome of a game,” Mtyanda said.
“Those small things make a difference and we want to cut them out.
“Now our plan is take our confidence into the WP game.”
Michael Botha, Athenkosi Mayinje, Meli Rokoua, Ntbeni Dukisa, Riaan Arendse, Oliver Zono, Richmond Gora, Zingisa April, Jurie van Vuuren, Rynardt van Wyk, Lubabalo Mtyanda (capt), Lindokuhle Welemu, Justin Forwood, Mihlali Mpafi, Xandre Vos. Substitutes: (Nos 16 to 22): Tango Balekile, Johan van Wyk, Anele Lungisa, Diego Williams, Sonwabo Majolam Sonwabile Matyoyi , Nkululeko Marwana.