Griquas quest for home domination continues
Griquas coach Dawie Theron has made no bones about his team’s intention of being unbeaten at home in this Absa Currie Cup season, and his team put another building block in place towards that when they beat the Lions 26-20 in Kimberley on Saturday afternoon.
The home team thoroughly deserved their win simply because, like against the Sharks a few weeks ago, they got the bit between their teeth in an impressive second half which they dominated for most of the way.
It was an entertaining match and there was plenty of passion from both sides, with both putting in big hits during the 80 minutes, and the Lions were pressing for what could have been the winning score when the final whistle came.
Griquas had to fight back from a 14-6 halftime deficit, and the Lions will reflect on the game as one that got away as they did have their chances to win it. They are playing much better rugby than they were in the Super 14, and have certainly brought more structure to their game than they had before John Mitchell arrived to coach them.
There were plenty of multi-phase build-ups, particularly in the first half, and perhaps they just have to learn to be a bit more patient on attack and the results will start coming for them.
It certainly looked like the Lions were on their way at half-time, for though they came second in the territory battle, they did control possession well. They took the lead through a good try to scrumhalf Jano Vermaak, and then took it to 14-3 building up to half-time as the Lions forwards produced a text book try as they sent lock George Earle over near the corner flag in the 34th minute.
Former Griquas player Herkie Kruger added the rest of the points with his boot, but was outdone on the day by Griquas captain Naas Olivier, who kicked two conversions and four penalties for a personal haul of 16 points.
The Griquas pack played a big part in bringing them back into the game in the second half, and tighthead prop Jacobie Adriaanse was at the heart of much of what went right for his team as he added a fine all-round game to his effort in the scrums. Coach Theron, himself a Springbok prop in his playing days, was understandably pleased with his prodigy afterwards.
Adriaanse scored one of the two Griquas second half tries, with wing Bjorn Basson crossing for the other.
Lions captain Franco van der Merwe was a frustrated man afterwards and lamented the way his team squandered what had looked a winning 17-6 lead after half-time only to see the Griquas get the bit between the teeth.
However, he said he was heartened by the improvement the team has made, one that will have to be accelerated a good couple of notches further before the Lions clash with near neighbours the Bulls next weekend.
Griquas 26 – Tries: Jacobie Adriaanse and Bjorn Basson; Conversions: Naas Olivier 2; Penalties: Naas Olivier 4.
Lions 20 – Tries: Jano Vermaak and George Earle; Conversions: Herkie Kruger 2; Penalties: Herkie Kruger 2.