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Rugby | SuperSport Rugby Challenge

Sintu Manjezi © Gallo Images

Griquas looking for second-time luck in SRC final



While making two consecutive SuperSport Rugby Challenge finals is proof positive that they are doing something right at the Tafel Lager Griquas, it does come with its pressures.

When Griquas made last year’s inaugural final – and lost – it was against a DHL Western Province team that was unbeaten and the expectation was that they would lose to the competition’s juggernaut.

But going to the Bridgton Stadium in Oudtshoorn this weekend, the pressure is double-barrelled because it’s their second time around and they have to make it count, and while the iCollege Pumas – their opponents on Sunday – are themselves unbeaten, they’re no Western Province.

Griquas coach Peter Engledow says it doesn’t quite feel like their second time at the rodeo, which releases the pressure somewhat: “The honest truth is it’s not really like that for us. We’ve got new staff, some new players and we’ve changed a few things from last year like our defence.

“We have a new forwards coach, which means a few changes there. We’re aware of the pressures that come with being in a final, but we haven’t paid much attention to the teams we’ve played. We look forward to the challenge, and the Pumas pose a challenge...”

Engledow’s confidence comes from an unlikely place, which is the difficulty his team had negotiating the round robin stages of the competition.

“Every rugby season, we call it a journey, is different,” he explains. “Every year you face different challenges and for us this year the league stage of the competition was tougher than last year. But it was good preparation for the play-offs.

“(Toyota) Free State was a pressure game where we had to have a good set piece and defence, and we managed to do both. So the excitement at making the final is almost more than last year because things haven’t been so easy for us.”

Looking at the challenges “posed” by the opposition, Engledow said they weren’t many but they were effective: “They play very basic rugby and they get it right. They don’t make many mistakes and they love to maul and kick.

“They’ve done exceptionally well to make the final unbeaten.”

For all that, the Griquas coach couldn’t quite work out which of the two sides were favourites for the game: “I think the conditions favour us because Oudtshoorn is drier like Kimberley while Nelspruit is more humid. But I guess they have the advantage of having gone through the competition unbeaten.”

Maybe a big part of why Engledow can’t make up his mind about who the favourites are to win is the fact that the two coaches also get on quite well.

“I know Brent well, we talk and I look forward to coming up against him,” adds Engledow. “We have a similar philosophy regarding coaching, not style. I actually sent him a text on Monday congratulating him on making the final and wishing him luck as well.”

Also as a means of tilting things in their favour, Griquas are also trying to get a supporters’ bus to go to Oudtshoorn.



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