Preview: Griquas v Golden Lions

Date published: August 19 2016

Griquas face a daunting task when they host the Golden Lions in their Round Three Currie Cup clash in Kimberley on Saturday.

The home side kicked off their campaign against the Sharks in Durban last week but were on the wrong end of a 46-24 scoreline. The Lions, by contrast, showed why they are the tournament's defending champions when they ran in 10 tries in a comprehensive 68-26 victory over the Pumas in their opener in Johannesburg.

Griquas did well to finish second in the qualifying competition – from 15 participating teams – but it was clear in their clash against the Sharks that they will be struggling against the bigger unions who have been bolstered by the return of their Super Rugby players.

Saturday's clash will be a momentous one for Griquas' veteran prop Steph Roberts, who will equal the record for the most matches played (161) for the men from Kimberley.

Although Roberets is delighted with his achievement, he highlighted how important the result is to his team.

"After our disappointing match in Durban against the Sharks last week, it is important that we succeed," he told Netwerk24.

"The personal thing will have to wait."

The Lions caught the attention of the South African rugby public with their attacking style of play and won last year's tournament without losing a match.

They continued with their expansive game-plan during their run to the Super Rugby Final and will expect stalwarts from that competition to lead the way this weekend. 

Amongst those are Courtnall Skosan, Howard Mnisi, Ross Cronje, Ruan Ackerman, Armand van der Merwe and Dylan Smith who all played significant roles for the Johannesburg-based outift. 

The last time these teams met: The Golden Lions secured a deserved 52-37 victory during Round 11 of the Currie Cup Qualifiers in Johannesburg. The Lions crossed for seven tries and their onslaught was led by Stokkies Hanekom, who scored a hat-trick of five-pointers, and Marnitz Boshoff, who added 17 points thanks to seven conversions and a penalty. Alshaun Bock scored two of Griquas' four tries and Andre Swarts finished with a 15-point haul after succeeding with three conversions and three penalties.

Team news: Griquas head coach Peter Engledow has made several changes to his starting line-up. Engledow has reshuffled his back-line, with JW Jonker shifting from outside centre to wing where he replaces Ederies Arendse while Johnathan Francke, who started at inside centre against the Sharks, moving to outside centre. This means that Clinton Swart will wear the number 12 jersey this weekend. The final change amongst the backs sees Elgar Watts taking over from Swart fly-half. In the pack, Sias Koen comes in for Mzwanele Zito at lock while AJ le Roux is preferred to Marius Fourie at hooker.

Meanwhile, Golden Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has made three changes to his starting line-up. Courtnall Skosan, MB Lusaseni and Dylan Smith come into the XV while Corne Fourie, Bobby de Wee and Ruaan Lerm are on the bench.

Prediction: Although Griquas are at home, the visitors will have too much firepower and will win comfortably. Lions to win by 20 points.

The teams:

Griquas: 15 AJ Coertzen 14 JW Jonker, 13 Johnathan Francke, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Alshaun Bock, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Rudi van Rooyen, 8 Jason Fraser 7 RJ Liebenberg (c), 6 Wendal Wehr, 5 Jonathan Janse van Rensburg, 4 Sias Koen, 3 Stephan Kotze, 2 AJ le Roux, 1 Steph Roberts 
Replacements: 16 Marius Fourie, 17 Devon Martinus, 18 Mzwanele Zito, 19 Stephan Vermeulen, 20 Renier Botha, 21 Andre Swart, 22 Eric Zana

Golden Lions: 15 Sylvian Mahuza, 14 Courtnall Skosan, 13 Stokkies Hanekom, 12 Howard Mnisi (cc), 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Ross Cronje (cc), 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Steph de Wit, 5 Lourens Erasmus, 4 MB Lusaseni, 3 Jacques van Rooyen, 2 Armand ‘Akker’ van der Merwe, 1 Dylan Smith
Replacements: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Bobby de Wee, 19 Ruaan Lerm, 20 Dillon Smit, 21 Marnitz Boshoff, 22 Jacques Nel

Date: Saturday, August 20
Venue: Griqua Park, Kimberley
Kick-off: 14:10 local (12:10 GMT)
Referee: Quinton Immelman
Assistant Referees: Mpho Matsaung, Darren Colby
TMO: JJ Wagner