Griquas' coach Abré Minnie was very happy with his team's tight defence and says it was decisive in Griquas securing two log points at Newlands on Saturday.
Speaking after his team's 26-26 draw with Western Province in their first-round Currie Cup match, Minnnie said Griquas' commendable performance had been based around commitment on defence and excellent set-piece play.
"We weren't satisfied with the draw," Minnie commented. "We believed 100 percent that we would win today. There's tremendous belief in this team. We've got incredibly talented individuals.
"We had only two weeks to prepare, which was a drawback, but Western Province were in the same position. We got eight players back from Super 15 and our captain Jonathan Mokuena and others have just returned from injury. Two-thirds of our team had not played for us before and we had only two weeks to bring the whole group together."
In the light of this Minnie conceded that perhaps Griquas should not be dissatisfied with the draw and picking up two log points at Newlands should not be scoffed at.
The coach - in his first year as head coach of Griquas after his predecessor Dawie Theron was given charge of the SA under 20 team - believed there were big positives to be taken out of the performance, the foremost of which was the team's excellent defence.
In previous years Griquas had always shown they could score a lot of tries but they had also conceded too many tries, and the players had acknowledged that to be Currie Cup contenders they would need to improve their defence.
The team's defence had been decisive in securing the draw, Minnie felt, especially considering the 122 tackles made by Griquas to Province's 35 tackles.
He was also pleased with his team's set-piece performance. They had succeeded in putting the Province scrum under pressure, had won their own line-out ball and had stolen ball on Province throw-ins as well.
The least satisfactory aspect of the performance had been inaccurate kicking, Minnie believed. Before the game emphasis had been placed on contestable kicks but the players had been their own worst enemy in launching uncontestable kicks.
They had put themselves under great pressure and this part of their game would need attention.
Conceding possession in contact had also put the team under pressure and this - together with more patience with ball in hand - would require focus.
The coach singled out right wing Richard Lawson for his brilliant work in the air under the high ball, lauding his courage as well as skill.
Asked to comment on the performance of scrumhalf Shannon Rick, the coach said: "Griquas have shown over the years that we are not wary of bringing young players through and Shannon Rick, who has never played provincial rugby - only club rugby - joined us for just a week and he passed his test.
"He was put under incredible pressure but his passing and kicking was very good and he passed his test of a first provincial game with flying colours."
Mokuena was full of praise for his team's attitude on defence, especially their first-time tackling.
"Defence is attitude," said the skipper,"if you make your first-time hits you know it's going to be easier for the guy next to you to adjust."
Mokuena had been impressed by the young Western Province loose-forward trio, in particular by rookie flank Siya Kolisi (who is still under 20), saying: "He carried the ball a lot and made things a little bit difficult for us at times!"
But he believed Griquas' flanks Justin Downey and Davon Raubenheimer had likewise acquitted themselves excellently.
Griquas, having shown yet again that they are a team to be reckoned with in the Currie Cup, play the Lions in Kimberley next Saturday.
By Len Kaplan at Newlands
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