Soft Griquas in 'must win' race
Griquas need to avoid 'soft moments' in the next three weeks or risk slipping out of the Currie Cup play-off race.
Griquas may still be in the top four, but they need to avoid 'soft moments' in the next three weeks or they will slip out of the play-off race.
This is the reality, illuminated by coach Pote Human, facing the men from Kimberley in the final three weeks of the Currie Cup competition's league action.
The first-placed Lions (on 24 points), Sharks (second, 21) and Western Province (third, 20) have some breathing space.
Griquas (fourth, 15), Blue Bulls (fifth, 13) and Free State Cheetahs (sixth, 12) appear to be in a sudden-death shoot-out for the fourth play-off spot.
Obviously anything can happen in the next few rounds, but the latter three are the teams playing catch-up in a competition where the margin for error is virtually zero.
Following a slot start (three defeats) and a great mid-season recovery (three wins) Griquas was on the wrong of a 45-21 hiding handed out by WP.
"We played well for three weeks, but we came back to earth with a bang," is how the coach, Human, described his team's reality check.
While they encounter a WP team in good form, they have to move on and focus on another test against a team even more desperate than they are.
"We are in a situation where we have to beat the Cheetahs if we want to have any hope of reaching the semifinals," Human told this website, adding: "[But] they are in the same situation, they also have to win to remain alive in the play-off race.
"It is obviously a crucial game for both teams.
"Because there are so few games remaining [just three rounds] the pressure builds every week.
"The teams who handle that pressure the best will make it [into the play-offs]."
He admitted that while his team played good rugby at times, the players were also hesitant last week - especially in the first half.
"Those two intercept tries put us on the back foot and meant we had to play catch-up ... which made it very tough for us," Human said of his team's faltering first-half performance.
"At times we did some great things.
"However, most of their tries were soft tries ... two intercept tries and two quick-tap tries. The try WP scored from the maul was a great try, we always knew they are a good mauling team.
"We just have to put this behind us and focus on the game against Free State that awaits us [this coming] Saturday."
Human felt that with Griquas and Cheetahs knowing each other well, desire may well be the decisive factor.
"Definitely, the team that wants it the most will get the spoils."
By Jan de Koning