Wandisile Simelane of the Lions evades a tackle from Kyle Steyn of the Griquas during the Currie Cup rugby match. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – Griquas may have lost last weekend by a point to the Lions, who they face at Ellis Park in the semi-final this Saturday, but they still have an excellent chance of winning and progressing to the final, according to former captain Jonathan Mokuena.

The Lions edged Griquas 27-26 in Kimberley last Saturday to book a home semi-final at Ellis Park and push Griquas down to third, meaning they have to travel this week.

But in spite of that, Mokuena believes Griquas will back themselves on the road.

“If you look at Griquas’ results this year I’d say they almost play better when away from home. They won’t worry about playing at Ellis Park, and I believe they certainly have a chance of winning through to the final.”

Mokuena would be right about Brent Janse van Rensburg’s team doing well on the road. They knocked over the Sharks 37-13 in Durban and the Bulls 37-15 in Pretoria earlier in the campaign.

And, on top of that, the Lions haven’t been all that convincing at home - something that will give the Griquas players plenty of belief. The Lions were asked to stage a miraculous fightback in their opening game of the campaign at Ellis Park against the Pumas, as they won 38-37, but they didn’t get so lucky in their other two home games.

Ivan van Rooyen’s team lost 31-26 to the Bulls and 30-28 to the Sharks at home - ironically both the teams Griquas beat on the road.

Andries Coetzee of the Golden Lions tackles Pieter van Vuren of Griquas during the Currie Cup rugby match. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Mokuena said Griquas would take plenty out of last week’s performance against the Lions in Kimberley into this weekend’s match.

“They created a good number of chances early on last week, but they didn’t convert and fell behind. They then lost their way a bit and gave away a few penalties and tries,” explained Mokuena. “But once they settled down and started playing again, they scored some tries and got right back into the game.

“They’ll also back their set-pieces against the Lions this week, especially with Khwezi Mona back at prop this week ... and that’s taking nothing away from Mox Mxoli, who did well last week. Khwezi will add more though at scrum-time.”

In what is expected to be a tight semi-final with not too many points separating the teams - as has been the case throughout the competition - Mokuena said the two flyhalves would again play vital roles for their teams.

“The Griquas’ George Whitehead is a solid tactical player while the Lions’ Shaun Reynolds likes to play flat ... they’re again going to be key.

“It’s a tough one to call, as it’s been all year. It should be another fun game.”

@jacq_west

 

The Star

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