Kimberley – Griquas coach Hawies Fourie has branded his side's Currie Cup match against the Free State Cheetahs on Saturday as a do or die encounter.
The Kimberley-based side is yet to win a game in this year's competition and, after a long and tedious road to reclaim their spot among the top eight in the premier division, the last thing the Griquas would want is to go through the same qualifying process again next year.
The hosts had come close on a couple of occasions, playing for the full 80 minutes against the Sharks, almost pulling a rabbit from the hat with just 14 men on the park, and dominating possession against the Pumas in Nelspruit last weekend.
“We've worked so hard to get where we are and our mindset is still that we can progress to the knock out stages,” Fourie said.
“The reality of it though is that we will be fighting for survival if we don't beat the Cheetahs. And that is one place we don't want to be.”
Griquas were not without experience, as Marnus Schoeman, Carel Greeff and Francois Brummer had all played pivotal roles in winning the Vodacom Cup. Former Lions players Ruan Lerm and Doppies la Grange also bolstered the side and a couple of youngsters had also come to the party.
Their greatest undoing was not converting opportunities into points.
“We are definitely looked at our inability to round off the chances presented to us,” Fourie said.
“It is going to be a tough game. Outings against the Cheetahs always are – but we can put ourselves in a better spot if we beat them.”
The Cheetahs would back themselves against Griquas, being one of the surprise packages of the competition under new interim coach Rory Duncan.
A young and mostly inexperienced Cheetahs side narrowly lost to the Pumas in Nelspruit in round one and beat the Griquas convincingly at home before they again came up short in the dying minutes against the Sharks in Durban.
“We are still a young side, but we take it week by week,” Duncan said.
“We played well against Griquas in Bloemfontein, but they are a different side altogether in Kimberley and we know that we will have to be at our very best if we are to beat them.” – Sapa