Preview: Griquas v Pumas, Round 1
Thu, 17 Oct 2013 20:41
You don't change the gameplan with a player like Willie le Roux in the team
While four teams are gearing for the main prize, the coveted Currie Cup, two other sides are in a desperate scrap for their very survival.
Griquas coach Pote Human likened his team's two-match promotion-relegation series against Pumas to "the most important game" his players will ever play.
It starts in Kimberley on Friday and conclude in Nelspruit a week later.
Just ask the Southern Kings what the consequences of their heartbreaking two-point (42-44 on aggregate) loss to the Lions was in their Super Rugby promotion-relegation matches July.
The mass exodus of players and coaches robbed the team of so much dept they even failed to defend their First Division title against the Pumas in last week's Final.
Yes, for the loser it is a catastrophic outcome.
As that classic proverb states: 'To the victor go the spoils.'
Yes, there is a drive to enlarge the Currie Cup to eight teams, but as both coaches - Pote Human (Griquas) and Jimmy Stonehouse (Pumas) - said this week, it is not a chance either can take.
And getting a jump-start, as the Lions did on the Kings, is vital in Friday's opening fixture.
"We simply cannot afford a loss at our home ground to the Pumas," Human said, adding: "That will put us in a very difficult situation that we really don't want to be in.
"To beat the Pumas in Nelspruit will be a huge ask. Therefore we need to produce the goods on Friday."
As a result Human will field his best available team.
Last week, in their final league match, he rested half of his frontline players and it is a decision he hopes will pay dividends.
"The guys who got a break last week are full of energy again and a guy like [returning Springbok] Willie [le Roux] brings a very positive attitude to the team," the Griquas mentor said.
While most teams tend to go the conservative route in play-offs, Human said they will remain adventurous in their approach.
"That is what Griquas are renowned for," Human said, adding: "If we try to deviate from what we have done well, we'll get ourselves into trouble. We will stick with what we can do well.
"If we want to change our gameplan with a player like Willie [le Roux] in the team, it would mean we'll be shooting ourselves in the foot .
"He provides the strike power."
Pumas mentor Jimmy Stonehouse admitted the tempo will be much higher than what it was for them in the First Division.
"They [Currie teams] stay out of the rucks a lot," Stonehouse said.
"That [rucks] is a lot different from the First Division to the Premier Division. The First Division [teams] put a lot more players into the rucks."
He also rated Griquas as one of the teams with the best scrums in the Currie Cup competition.
"It didn't matter if it was against Western Province or the Sharks, they always scrummed well," the Pumas mentor said.
He felt scrums are where Griquas will attack them, especially after the Pumas struggled in the scrums against the Eastern Province Kings last week.
"We have worked with [World Cup-winning former Springbok prop and renowned scrum doctor] Balie Swart on it this week, but we know they will target us in the scrums."
Stonehouse made one crucial change to his team, drafting in veteran prop Ivann Espag, a player know for his scrumming ability.
"We do prefer a more mobile prop, but we have brought him in," Stonehouse said, adding: "We feel if we can get the upper hand in that regard we will be fine as we will be able to hold our own in other aspects of the game."
The Pumas' approach will be to make as few mistakes as possible, play in the right areas of the field and take the points when they are available.
"We can't afford to play a high-risk game," the coach said.
"It is a play-off game and if we want to get to the top [Currie Cup status] we have to do the right things at the right time."
Prediction: The Pumas are right about one thing, the pace with which Griquas play will be a couple of steps up from anything they have experienced this year. However, the Pumas are not a team to be sneezed at. If Griquas are not on top of their game this could be a big upset. However, we feel Griquas will just have too much gas in the tack and take a 10-point lead into the second game in Nelspruit next week by winning in Kimberley.
Griquas: 15 Gouws Prinsloo, 14 Willie le Roux, 13 Jean Stemmet, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Rocco Jansen, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Marnus Hugo, 8 Burger Schoeman, 7 RJ Liebenberg, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Jaco Nepgen, 4 Rynhardt Landman, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Ryno Barnes (captain), 1 Steph Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Dobson, 17 Janro van Niekerk, 18 Patrick O'Brien, 19 Carel Greeff, 20 Jacques Coetzee, 21 JP Nel, 22 Nico Scheepers.
Pumas: 15 Coenie van Wyk, 14 JW Bell, 13 Wilmaure Louw, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Rosco Speck man, 10 Carl Bezuidenhout, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 RW Kember, 7 Renaldo Bothma, 6 Corne Steenkamp (captain), 5 Eduan Van Der Walt, 4 Rudi Matthee, 3 Ivann Espag, 2 Frank Herne, 1 Corné Fourie.
Replacements: 16 Francois du Toit, 17 Vincent Koch, 18 De-Jay Terblanche, 19 Lubabalo Mtyanda, 20, Uzair Cassiem, 21 JC Roos, 22 Dewald Pretorius.
Date: Friday, October 18
Venue: GWK Park, Kimberley
Kick-off: 19.10 (17.10 GMT)
Expected weather: There may be increasing clouds through Friday, but the ain is not expected to arrive till Saturday. High of 27°C and a low of 10°C
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan
Assistant referees: Lourens van der Merwe, Francois de Bruin
TMO: Johan Greeff
By Jan de Koning
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