Finally, Griqualand West managed to get the monkey off their back with a convincing victory of 31-10 over their neighbours the Free State Cheetahs in the second round of the 2021-edition of the Currie Cup.
It was Griquas’ first win in the competition since their historic victory of 27-23 over Western Province back on the 16th of August 2019. It was also head coach, Scott Mathie’s, first taste of victory in an official first-class match since joining the Kimberley-based side from the 2020-season.
It didn’t help the Cheetahs’ cause that they were disrupted by the fact that more than a handful of players and staff was not available to travel to Kimberley due to the fact that they tested positive for the Corona-virus. Head coach Hawies Fourie also didn’t make the trip to the City of Diamonds and Charl Strydom had to take charge in his absence.
No less than 13 players made their debuts for the Cheetahs in the match. Including former Springbok flanker Jacques Potgieter. Their eightman Gideon van Wyk celebrated his debut with a try that he will remember for a long time.
The only survivors in the Griquas’ squad from the victory over Western Province are Andre Swarts, George Whitehead, Eduan Keyter, Ewald van der Westhuizen, Gideon van der Merwe, and Ederies Arendse. Two of their former teammates Victor Seketete and Wilmar Arnoldi was trying their best to keep the Cheetahs in the match.
Winger Eduan Keyter was named Man-of-the-Match for his excellent performance which he capped off with an intercept try near the end of the match to hit the final nail in the coffin for the Cheetahs.
In the midfield, the home side’s centre pairing of Swarts and Jay-Cee Nel, had a field day as they exploited the visitors’ defensive liabilities in this part of the field.
This victory comes only a day after the management of the Griqualand West Rugby Union announced that they would be selling their stadium to the Sol Plaatjie University. Griquas moved to the then Hoffe Park back in 1991 from the De Beers Stadium. The stadium since donned various names as the sponsors came along through the years – Absa Park, Griqua Park, and Tafel Lager Park.
Griquas will still play their matches at the stadium, but will in future rent the stadium from the new owners.
Griqualand West 31 (7) – Tries: Masixole Banda, Jay-Cee Nel, Mzwanele Zito, Eduan Keyter. Conversions: George Whitehead (4). Penalty: Whitehead. Free State Cheetahs 10 (3) – Try: Gideon van Wyk. Conversion: Ruan Pienaar. Penalty: Pienaar.
Griqualand West: 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Daniel Kasende, 13 Jay-Cee Nel, 12 Andre Swarts, 11 Eduan Keyter, 10 George Whitehead, 9 Stefan Ungerer (captain), 8 Hanru Sirgel, 7 Sibabalo Qoma, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Cameron Lindsay, 4 Jeandre Leonard, 3 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 2 Janco Uys, 1 Andrew Beerwinkel. Replacements: 16 HJ Luus, 17 Andrew Kuhn, 18 Janu Botha, 19 Mzwanele Zito, 20 Henco Beukes, 21 Raegan Oranje, 22 Theo Boshoff, 23 Ederies Arendse
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Duncan Saal, 13 Evardi Boshoff, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Tian Meyer, 10 Reinhardt Fortuin, 9 Ruan Pienaar (captain), 8 Gideon van Wyk, 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Jean Droste, 5 Rynier Bernardo, 4 Victor Sekekete, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Wilmar Arnoldi, 1 Cameron Dawson. Replacements: 16 Janus Venter, 17 Aluluthu Tshakweni, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 Reinier Viljoen, 20 Luan Potgieter, 21 Mihlali Mosi, 22 David Brits, 23 Cohen Jasper.