Griquas produced a statement in the opening match of the 2019 Currie Cup by claiming a bonus-point 37-13 win over the Sharks in Durban on Friday. DYLAN JACK reports.
It certainly was a way to state your intent as the Rugby Challenge title-holders outplayed the Sharks in wet conditions.
Griquas simply refused to play from their own half, with flyhalf George Whitehead controlling the game brilliantly and applying plenty of pressure through some well-judged up-and-unders.
Opposite number Curwin Bosch mixed the bad with the good, throwing a couple of wild passes and overhitting a few kicks, but wasn’t helped but the lack of support outside him. On his return to the Durban, JP Pietersen had a quiet outing, until he played a role in their only try of the match, but it was not quite the evening for him to showcase his talents as the ball rarely went wide.
Aphelele Fassi was the home side’s brightest spark in the first period, constantly looking dangerous when he entered the backline, but did look shaky under the high ball at times.
A largely unremarkable first-half admittedly hampered by the conditions saw Griquas take a 10-6 lead at the break thanks to an early try from scrumhalf Zak Burger and penalty from George Whitehead.
The Sharks were perhaps guilty of overplaying from their own half and were fortunate not to be further behind, with Griquas missing a couple of chances to punish the home side for their handling errors.
The second half did not get much better for the defending Currie Cup champions, as they yet again conceded an early try after Michal Haznar smartly pounced on an error from Fassi, before Whitehead knocked over another couple of penalties.
However, the Sharks did get themselves back into the match when Tera Mtembu and Pietersen combined brilliantly to allow Cameron Wright to sneak over from close range.
However, they were back under their posts as two powerful driving mauls saw Griquas’ replacement hooker Wilmar Arnoldi score a brace to seal the bonus-point and the win.
Sharks – Tries: Cameron Wright. Conversions: Curwin Bosch. Penalties: Bosch (2)
Griquas – Tries: Zak Burger, Michal Haznar, Wilmar Arnoldi (2). Conversions: George Whitehead (3). Penalties: Whitehead (3)
Sharks – 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Jeremy Ward (c-c), 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Tera Mtembu (c-c), 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Luke Stringer, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Juan Schoeman.
Subs: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Gideon Koegelenberg, 20 Phendulani Buthelezi, 21 Sanele Nohamba, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Rhyno Smith.
Griquas – 15 Anthony Volmink, 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Michal Haznar, 12 Andre Swarts, 11 Enver Brandt, 10 George Whitehead (c), 9 Zak Burger, 8 Neill Jordaan, 7 Sias Koen, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Victor Sekekete, 4 Ian Groenewald, 3 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 2 AJ Le Roux, 1 Khwezi Mona.
Subs: 16 Wilmar Arnoldi, 17 Mox Moxili, 18 NJ Oosthuizen, 19 Johan Momsen, 20 Zandre Jordaan, 21 Chriswell September, 22 Tinus de Beer, 23 Eduan Keyter.
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images