Sharks v Griquas - teams and prediction
It is almost the perfect Cinderella story. Griquas, after failing to win a match in the 2020/21 season, are just one match away from their first appearance in a Final since 1970.
However, for the losing finalists from the 2020-21 season, the Sharks, it is a chance for redemption when they host Griquas in Durban.
The men from Kimberley will feature in their first semifinal since 2019, and only their third appearance in the top-four since the game turned professional in the mid-1990s.
Griquas arrive in Durban with the knowledge that they beat the Sharks during their last visit to Kings Park, a 37-27 triumph in Round Eight.
The KwaZulu-Natalians had won 30-16 in Kimberley in the opening round of the competition, showing the unpredictability of encounters between these two sides.
Sharks coach Sean Everitt said one of the biggest lessons from the last encounter with Griquas was their discipline and “how to deal with yellow cards” – especially when the opposition was a man down.
Griquas conceded five yellow cards in the game and the Sharks just could not make their numerical advantage count.
Defence is another aspect that received a lot of attention since a game in which they leaked four tries.
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“We have also built up a bit of momentum since then,” he said of wins over the Bulls, Lions and Cheetahs since the loss to Griquas.
However, they stumble last week against Western Province.
“I think we are a better team [than that result],” Everitt said.
The coach denied his team lacked motivation last week, saying they were “unfortunate” in certain moments of the game.
“The players won’t lack energy or desire this week,” he added.
He pointed out that Griquas, as a team, has been together for a long period and has established combinations.
“They are a team that believes they can topple anyone,” Everitt said, adding: “They have done that this season and they are a dangerous team.
“Hopefully we can match the physicality they had when they played us here [in Durban] the last time.”
Griquas coach Scott Mathie spoke of the excitement of reaching the play-offs again – a rare occurrence for minnows from the countryside.
“Not many ‘small union’ players can say they have played in such a big game,” he told @rugby365com.
“We know the Sharks have a good driving maul, they scrummed well against Western Province [last week], while they are also good on kick-returns and counter-attacks.
“The dangerous players in their backline will raise a few concerns.”
Mathie added that “playing in the right areas” of the field is important in the play-offs.
Griquas assistant coach Albert van den Berg, soon to be the Lions’ line-out mentor, admitted the Sharks won’t be the same team as the one they overpowered a month ago.
“It is a semifinal, a once-off,” he told @rugby365com.
“Games like these turns into Test matches, so [using your] opportunities are important – as is discipline.”
He also spoke of the fact that it is only Griquas’ this appearance in the semifinals.
“It is going to be a tough battle,” he said, adding: “We are prepared and looking forward to it.”
2014: Sharks won 31-24, Kimberley
2014: Griquas won 21-18, Durban
2015: Sharks won 45-20, Kimberley
2016: Sharks won 46-24, Durban
2017: Sharks won 41-3, Durban
2018: Sharks won 41-11, Kimberley
2019: Griquas won 37-13, Durban
2020: Sharks won 47-19, Durban
2021: Sharks won 30-16, Kimberley
2021: Griquas won 37-27, Durban
@rugby365com: Sharks by six points
Sharks: 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Werner Kok, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Thaakir Abrahams, 10 Lionel Cronje, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi (captain), 7 Henco Venter, 6 Dylan Richardson, 5 Gerbrandt Grobler, 4 Le Roux Roets, 3 Khutha Mchunu, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Ntuthuko Mchunu.
Replacements: 16 Dan Jooste, 17 Khwezi Mona, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Reniel Hugo, 20 Thembelani Bholi, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Jeremy Ward, 23 Anthony Volmink.
Griquas: 15 Ashlon Davids, 14 Daniel Kasende, 13 Chris Hollis, 12 Johnathan Francke, 11 Eduan Keyter, 10 George Whitehead, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Ruan Steenkamp (captain), 7 Hanru Sirgel, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Stefan Willemse, 4 Adre Smith, 3 Erich de Jager, 2 Janco Uys, 1 Nqobisizwe Mxoli.
Replacements – from: 16 Alandre van Rooyen, 17 Andrew Beerwinkel, 18 Janu Botha, 19 Cameron Lindsay, 20 Johan Momsen, 21 Raegan Oranje, 22 Tinus de beer, 23 Ederies Arendse, 24 Andrew Kuhn, 25 Mzwanele Zito, 26 Andre Swarts.
Date: Saturday, September 4
Venue: Kings Park, Durban
Kick-off: 17.00 (15.00 GMT)
Expected weather: Cooler, but pleasant with sun and clouds. High of 23°C and low of 18°C
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: Rasta Rasivhenge, Paul Mente
TMO: Egon Seconds