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Rugby | SuperSport Rugby Challenge

Griquas © Gallo Images

Why 'mirror image' SRC finalists are tough to beat



When they meet in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge final at the Bridgton Sports Grounds in Oudtshoorn on Sunday, the iCollege Pumas and the Tafel Lager Griquas would have lost just one game from 20 from their combined games in this season’s campaign.

The loss, which was suffered by Griquas to the Toyota Free State XV (by two points), means both sides were particularly tough to beat. We asked two coaches whose sides faced them why this is the case, and if there is indeed a chink in their armour.

TAFEL LAGER GRIQUAS

By Ricardo Loubscher (Cell C Sharks XV coach)

Why are they so difficult to beat?

You have to start with their experience, especially because it has come in handy in playoffs. They lost to Western Province last year and they also lost one of the finals to Province when the competition was still the Vodacom Cup. Consistently being in playoffs and finals like they have been comes in handy. When you look at their personnel up front they have a big, physical pack and the way they carry makes it hard for anyone to stop them. They don’t make a lot of mistakes but they’ve also got backs with the ability to score from anywhere, and that’s why (top try scorer) Enver Brandt will be a big loss for them.

Which players are key to executing the game plan?

Obviously the pack and their nine and 10 (Christiaan Meyer and George Whitehead) are spot-on with their game management, especially Whitehead. He knows when to kick and when not to, when to turn you around, etc. And they always take the points...

What opportunities do they give the opposition?

It’s hard to score against them, but the one or two opportunities we had against them was if we took the ball through the phases to build momentum because they can end up slipping tackles. You have to be patient but it’s easier said than done.

ICOLLEGE PUMAS

By Herkie Kruger (Xerox Golden Lions coach)

Why are they so difficult to beat?

What makes the Pumas difficult to play against is a good pack of forwards which gives them good go-forward ball, they’re also great at their kicking game. They don’t mind kicking the ball to you to get it back because they back their defence and it plays into their hands. They don’t play in their own half, back themselves defensively because they’re good on turnover ball and capitalise on it, and their pack gives them go-forward ball.

Which players are key to executing their game plan?

It’s not so much individuals but like I’ve said their pack is important to them, their nine and 10 (Stefan Ungerer and Chris Smith) make good decisions. Also the good thing for them is their finishers finish (winger Ruwellyn Isbell has 10 tries from the competition, one behind Brandt).

What opportunities do they give the opposition?

If Griquas can kick well against them they could cause them problems. Sometimes when you kick at them it’s almost as if they don’t have a plan and give you spaces you can exploit. Their defence is so good that they try to leave all their men on their feet, which means there are spaces behind them you can kick to. Too often teams try to run at them and that’s what they want you to do. But you still have to kick well to be able to exploit the spaces they give you.



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