Gi­ants fight for a semi­fi­nal berth

Daily Dispatch - - Sport - ALVIN REEVES

The Nel­son Man­dela Bay Gi­ants will be look­ing to turn it on for their home crowd when they take on the Tsh­wane Spar­tans at St Ge­orge’s Park in Port Elizabeth on Satur­day at 7pm.

The Gi­ants are cur­rently sit­ting in sec­ond po­si­tion on the stand­ings with two pool stage matches to play.

A win in their penul­ti­mate match against the Spar­tans will se­cure them a spot in the play-off stage. This would take sub­stan­tial pres­sure off their fi­nal match away to the Paarl Rocks next week.

Gi­ants cap­tain Jon-Jon Smuts knows how telling Satur­day’s re­sult will be.

“Home games are al­ways im­por­tant and our next one is against the Tsh­wane Spar­tans on Satur­day,” said Smuts. “That will be a mas­sive game for us. If you can do well at home, that holds you in good stead for the tour­na­ment so hope­fully we can get a win.

“It al­most takes the pres­sure off what would maybe be a must­win game for the last one where we can just go out, play and ex­press our­selves.”

Smuts, who looked im­pres­sive with bat in the aban­doned match against Dur­ban Heat on Wed­nes­day, is wary of all-com­ers and even though the Spar­tans are sec­ond-last on the ta­ble, the Proteas all­rounder is wary of the dan­ger they bring.

“Pretty much ev­ery game left in the com­pe­ti­tion is a mas­sive game. I said in the last press con­fer­ence I still think that peo­ple deemed as favourites are go­ing to be knocked out by some of the teams who are in the bot­tom half.

“Ev­ery squad is strong and in this game in­di­vid­u­als can win you games from nowhere. So, I think there are go­ing to be a few so-called up­sets and a lot more ex­cite­ment to come.”

With the Cape Town Blitz look­ing good to fin­ish top and thereby claim a fi­nal berth in Cape Town, a home semi­fi­nal is what the Gi­ants will be tar­get­ing.

“At the mo­ment we sit­ting in a nice po­si­tion but then again, we have got two big games com­ing up and we need to play well in both. First op­tion is, you want to be in the top three. If you can get a home semi or fi­nal it’s mas­sive in the com­pe­ti­tion,” said Smuts.

“But again, if you asked any­one at the start of the com­pe­ti­tion, they were all pretty much say­ing top three would be great.”

English­man Ja­son Roy gave fans a glimpse of what he is ca­pa­ble of in scor­ing 26 off 16 balls against the Heat on Wed­nes­day and Smuts was im­pressed by what he saw.

“Look, he played re­ally well, some fan­tas­tic shots. He brings some se­ri­ous X-fac­tor to the team which is re­ally ex­cit­ing. He can win games by him­self which is some­thing you want to have. I think all the mar­quee play­ers have that ca­pa­bil­ity so it’s go­ing to be great to see how he goes in the next few games.”

AB de Vil­liers has had a lean run in the last two matches but he will be a mas­sive fac­tor for the Spar­tans, as will Eng­land star Eoin Mor­gan.

I still think that peo­ple deemed as favourites are go­ing to be knocked out by some of the teams who are in the bot­tom half – Smuts

Pic­ture: GALLO IM­AGES/ANESH DEBIKY

BIG TASK AHEAD: Skip­per Jon-Jon Smuts con­sid­ers Ja­son Roy to be an im­por­tant fac­tor for the Gi­ants.

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