Ambitious Griquas a big hurdle facing Western Province
Western Province are fourth on the Currie Cup standings with two group games to go against opposition above them on the log.
It’s in the 34 time champions’ hands to turn the final log positions around‚ starting in Kimberley against the Griquas on Friday.
Griquas are top of the standings on 15 points but only three clear of Western Province.
Griquas though‚ have the double motivation of securing a semi-final berth with victory over the most successful team in the tournament’s history while also seriously denting the Cape side’s semi-final prospects.
Western Province are aware of the threat they face on the concrete-like Tafel Lager Park pitch against a Griquas team that is aiming for its first semi-final since 1998.
Coach Brent Janse van Rensburg has turned the entire Kimberley operation around‚ which started with winning the SuperSport Challenge earlier in the year.
The Griquas went through that tournament with only one Pool loss. They also beat Western Province in the semi-finals.
With the prospect of entry into an expanded PRO 14 in the near future‚ Currie Cup success would help the Griquas make a case for inclusion in an international competition.
With their ambition coupled to an effective playing style‚ Western Province are wary of the task they face. The log position doesn’t lie.
But after last week’s 45-14 win over the Pumas‚ in which Western Province scored seven tries‚ there is now confidence within the squad.
“I’m really happy with that first half‚ we created some opportunities and we scored‚” Western Province attack coach Dawie Snyman said.
“We wanted to improve on the Lions game where we created but didn’t finish‚ so it was nice for the team to get a few tries.
“In the second half we went off system a bit and played from areas we didn’t want to play from‚ especially against the Pumas and that put us under pressure so we couldn’t get out of our half‚ which allowed them to get almost all the possession in the second half.
“We also made a lot of substitutions and wanted to give guys game time‚ but that sometimes breaks the guys’ rhythm.”
Snyman praised the work Janse van Rensburg has done at the Northern Cape union and made it clear Western Province would not underestimate the challenge they face.
“Brent has brought a different flavour to the way they play‚” Snyman said.
“The previous years we played up there they kept ball in hand quite a lot‚ Brent follows the same game but he plays in the right areas and he’ll put you under pressure with their kicking game.
“So tactically I think this Griquas team is smart‚ and we’re going to have too be smart in that department too.”