Kimberley – While their hopes of playing in the knockout stages of the Currie Cup competition are dashed, Griquas still hold their fate in their own hands looking ahead to maintaining their Currie Cup status.
To face the Pumas in two deciding promotion/relegation matches later on in the series, the Kimberley-based side would need to move away from the bottom spot on the Currie Cup points log by beating the Free State Cheetahs on Saturday.
“We still have our fate in our own hands with regards to playing in the promotion and relegation matches,” Griquas coach Pote Human said on Thursday.
“We can still miss out – even if we managed to beat the Cheetahs on Saturday and the Lions in Johannesburg next weekend – but there is still that belief that it can be done.”
Granted, the Bulls would need to come up short in their next couple of encounters, while the Cheetahs were also in danger of being branded bottom feeders – if Griquas win their next couple of games with bonus points and the Bloemfontein-based side fail on both counts.
Griquas had not won a single match at home in this year's competition and had struggled to be competitive, as last week's hammering against the Blue Bulls in Kimberley proved.
“This is our final home game of the competition. We desperately need this win if we are to ever again refer to GWK Park as an ally,” Human said.
“We owe our loyal supporters a victory and against the Cheetahs and we will put in everything to try and achieve that.”
Griquas would be looking to seasoned prop Steph Roberts, hooker and captain Ryno Barnes and lock Jaco Nepgen to get on the front foot and give exciting youngster centre Howard Mnisi ample ball with which to play.
Currently in fourth position, a mere log point above the Bulls, the Cheetahs' place in the semi-finals had all but been cemented.
If they were lose to Griquas on Saturday, however, they could find themselves in the same position as they did last season – playing in the promotion and relegation playoffs against the EP Kings.
“This game is of huge importance to us. We slipped up in our last couple of games and need this victory if we are to progress to the semi-finals,” Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské said.
“We know that Griquas always pose a huge threat on their home ground and we will need to play for 80 minutes if we are to beat them.”
The Cheetahs would be out to dominate up front, and look to heavyweights Springbok prop Trevor Nyakane and locks Lood de Jager and Francois Uys to give them momentum.
Springbok flyer Raymond Rhule had been included in the side, on the wing, after missing out against Western Province last week. He would need to justify Drotské's new found faith in him. – Sapa