GRI­QUAS’ LAST HUR­RAH AT HOME

Diamond Fields Advertiser - - SPORT - DAVE ALEXAN­DER SPORTS RE­PORTER

THE TAFEL Lager Gri­quas may have home ground ad­van­tage in their Cur­rie Cup Premier Divi­sion fix­ture against the Free State Chee­tahs tomorrow at 2pm, but there is very lit­tle else to smile about.

In the last en­counter be­tween these teams, in the first round of the com­pe­ti­tion, it was Gri­quas who man­aged a 30-25 vic­tory in Bloem­fontein. They will be do­ing all they can to keep the Chee­tahs from aveng­ing that de­feat.

Dec­i­mated

Gri­quas have mean­while been dec­i­mated by in­juries and they face a Chee­tahs team that, though weak­ened as a re­sult of their first string play­ers con­test­ing the Pro14 com­pe­ti­tion in Europe, re­alise a win over Gri­quas will help them se­cure a home semi-fi­nal in this sea­son where all the teams with the ex­cep­tion of the Sharks have been in­con­sis­tent.

The Sharks can only be pipped to top spot by the Chee­tahs, and that is only if the Chee­tahs get a full house of five log points from all their re­main­ing three games and the Sharks lose both their re­main­ing games and fail to pick up at least one los­ing bonus point.

Mean­while, with all the in­juries to the Gri­qua squad, the se­lec­tors have made nine changes, as well as two po­si­tional switches to the start­ing line-up.

As­sis­tant and back­line coach Pi­eter Bergh told the DFA that putting a team to­gether was a mas­sive chal­lenge. “It has been re­ally a tough week with all the in­juries from the last game,” he said.

“On Tues­day af­ter­noon there were only 20 play­ers who were able to prac­tice, which made train­ing re­ally dif­fi­cult. How­ever, there is still an abun­dance of pos­i­tiv­ity

AJ Co­ertzen (c), Kyle Steyn, Ter­tius Kruger, Johnathan Francke, En­ver Brandt, Ge­orge White­head, Chris­ti­aan Meyer, Con­way Pre­to­rius, Sias Koen (vc), Wen­dal Wehr, FP Pelser, Sintu Man­jezi, Stephan Kotze, AJ Le Roux and Liam Hen­dricks.

Mar­ius Fourie, Louwrens Stry­dom, Wandile Pu­tuma, Shaun McDon­ald, De Wet Kruger, Re­nier Botha and An­dré Swarts.

amongst the play­ers and we want to fin­ish the sea­son strongly by win­ning our last two games against the Chee­tahs and Pu­mas.”

AJ Co­ertzen re­turns to full­back in place of Eric Zana, while Johnathan Franke re­turns to inside cen­tre, Kyle Steyn then re­places Ederies Arendse on right wing, and Ter­tius Kruger moves into Steyn’s po­si­tion at out­side cen­tre.

Chris­ti­aan Meyer, mean­while, starts at scrumhalf which means that Re­nier Botha moves to the bench. Con­way Pre­to­rius takes over the No 8 jersey from Kevin Kaba, and Wen­dal Wehr’s in­clu­sion means that De Wet Kruger moves to the bench. In the Gri­qua sec­ond row FP Pelser takes over at lock in place of Jonathan Janse van Rens­burg, but the front row sees a to­tal of three changes with Liam Hen­dricks start­ing at tight-head, re­plac­ing Devon Mart­i­nus, AJ le Roux re­turns as hooker in place of Wil­mar Arnoldi and Stephan Kotze re­places Ni­co­laas Oosthuizen at loose-head.

Now, if all those changes have not made your head spin, there are some more – the bench will also be warmed by some new … faces.

Mar­ius Fourie makes a wel­come re­turn from in­jury, and Louwrens Stry­dom newly drafted from the Sishen Rugby Club also comes in; fur­ther good news is that Wandile Pu­tuma and An­dré Swarts have also re­cov­ered from their in­juries and could be called upon dur­ing the match.

Bergh was un­der no il­lu­sions about what he be­lieved the Chee­tahs in­ten­tions were for tomorrow’s match.

“The Chee­tahs will come here full of con­fi­dence af­ter beating the Pu­mas last week, and will be­lieve they can also beat us. It will be im­por­tant for us to win our set pieces, so as to launch our at­tack from there as we re­ally strug­gled in the scrums against Western Prov­ince last week,” he added.

The coach also said that they had to re­vise their game plan for tomorrow’s en­counter. “They (the Chee­tahs) play at a high tempo and do not kick much, so our de­fence will be tested this week but it can also give us some op­por­tu­ni­ties from turnovers in their half.

“We be­lieve we can still fin­ish in the top six if we win both our re­main­ing games and that is what we are work­ing for in our last two games,” Bergh added.

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