Ti­tle-de­fend­ing Ti­tans out to up game

The Herald (South Africa) - - Sport -

Ti­tans coach Mark Boucher is ex­pect­ing an­other tough bat­tle against the bizhub Highveld Li­ons when the two sides meet in a 4-Day Do­mes­tic Se­ries derby from Mon­day, and says their fo­cus will be on try­ing to im­prove their per­for­mance at Wil­low­moore Park in Benoni.

The cham­pi­ons have not en­joyed the best of ti­tle de­fences thus far, win­ning just once in seven matches to sit sec­ond bot­tom on the ta­ble.

They have also lost the most games com­pared with ev­ery­one else and were on the wrong end of re­sults four times al­ready this term.

“We can look for ex­cuses as much as we want, but quite sim­ply, we haven’t played good cricket in all de­part­ments,” Boucher said.

“It’s been frus­trat­ing. “We’ve had to use a lot of play­ers as well, 25 I think it is, so that doesn’t help, it’s tested our depth a bit.

“We’ll have to go back to the draw­ing board and see how we can im­prove.”

Their op­po­nents, the Li­ons, are the clos­est chal­lengers to the log-lead­ing World Sports Bet­ting Cape Co­bras and now trail by just un­der 20 points.

The Johannesburg side will look to at­tack in their bid to win, but Boucher says they too may look to go out and take the game to the vis­i­tors.

“The Li­ons have been play­ing good cricket and they’ve done it through­out the sea­son,” he said.

“I think they’re sec­ond be­cause the Co­bras have just been that more con­sis­tent, but I’m not wor­ried about them, I’m look­ing at im­prov­ing our pro­cesses.

“We’ll be look­ing to go out there and win. There’s no point play­ing for any other re­sult.”

Boucher, whose side were beaten by the War­riors in the last game, also feels the Co­bras should win the ti­tle this year, but says there is still plenty for the other sides to play for.

“The Co­bras are streets ahead of ev­ery­one else and if they play half-de­cent cricket, they should walk away with the ti­tle,” he said.

“It’s go­ing to be dif­fi­cult for any­one to catch them.

“For me it’s about what we do at the Ti­tans to get our sys­tems right and give op­por­tu­ni­ties to guys who’ll take them.

“There’s still a lot to play for, even though it’s not the ti­tle, but cer­tainly po­si­tions and op­por­tu­nity to young play­ers with an eye on next sea­son.”

Li­ons coach Enoch Nkwe, mean­while, saw his play­ers bounce back from a de­feat to the Hol­ly­wood­bets Dol­phins at the end of last year with a crush­ing vic­tory over the same op­po­nents last week­end.

It left him pleased with their progress and now he is seek­ing to keep the pres­sure on the Co­bras at the sum­mit.

“[The last win] cer­tainly does keep us in the mix,” he said. “It was a good dis­play from the guys.

“We had some changes with guys like Wi­aan Mul­der and Kag­iso Ra­pu­lana com­ing in and they added a lot of value.

“It was a good all-round per­for­mance after what hap­pened in the pre­vi­ous game.

“But we did put that to bed. The big­gest fo­cus was to start the year well, which we did.”

Re­gard­ing the ti­tle run-in, Nkwe said: “We’re on the road for the last three games and we’ll be just go­ing out there with the fo­cus on each game and each day in fact.

“The Co­bras have played good cricket all sea­son, but we’ll not stop try­ing to catch them.”

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