Preview: Griquas v EP Kings

Date published: August 30 2016

Griquas will look to continue with their superb start to the season when they host the Eastern Province Kings in Kimberley on Wednesday.

This match was supposed to be these two teams' opening fixture of the Currie Cup season but it was postponed when there was uncertainty over the Kings' participation in this year's competition.

There were fears that the men from Port Elizabeth would be unable to field a competitive side in the Currie Cup's Premier Division after they lost most of their players at the end of their Super Rugby campaign.

They eventually received a R20m support package from the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality which secured them their Currie Cup status.

Griquas head in to this clash with plenty of confidence as they have been the surprise package in the Premier Division. They are currently in fifth place in the nine-team competition after winning two of their three matches.

They suffered a 46-24 defreat to the Sharks in their first match but bounced back with back-to-back victories over the defending champions, the Golden Lions (30-24), in Kimberley and the Pumas (41-35) in Nelspruit last weekend.    

The Kings meanwhile, are languishing at the bottom of the table with just one point from their three previous matches. As expected, the men from Port Elizabeth have found the going tough as they were woefully unprepared for this year's tournament.

They lost their tournament opener against the Boland Cavaliers (28-10) in Wellington before delivering an impressive display in a 49-35 loss against the Blue Bulls in Pretoria and last weekend they were on the wrong end of a 36-6 result against Western Province in Cape Town.

Griquas head coach Peter Engledow has made three changes to his starting line-up for this clash. In the back-line, JW Jonker shifts from outside centre to the right wing, where he replaces Ederies Arendse, with Jonathan Francke coming into the run-on side to wear the number 13 jersey.

The other changes are in the pack, where Wendal Wehr and Wandile Putuma replace Sias Koen and Mzwanele Zito on the openside flank and at lock respectively.

The last times these teams met: Griquas claimed a 29-12 victory when these sides met in Port Elizabeth during the Currie Cup Qualifying Tournament in July. Griquas outscored their hosts by four tries to two with Ntabeni Dukisa crossing for a brace and Andre Swarts finished with a nine-point haul after slotting three conversions and a penalty.

Prediction: The home side should have little trouble in winning this one as they are in a rich vein of form. Griquas to win by 12 points!

The teams:

Griquas: 15 AJ Coertzen (c), 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 JW Jonker, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Alshaun Bock, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Rudi van Rooyen, 8 Jason Fraser, 7 Sias Koen, 6 Wendal Wehr, 5 Jono van Rensburg, 4 Wandile Putuma, 3 Stephan Kotzé, 2 AJ le Roux, 1 Steph Roberts 
Replacements: 16 Marius Fourie, 17 Devon Martinus, 18 Steven Meiring, 19 Thabo Mabuza, 20 Renier Botha, 21 André Swarts, 22 Eric Zana

EP Kings: 15 Ganfried May,14  Minenhle Mthethwa, 13 JC Greyling, 12 Sphu Msutwana, 11 Alcino Izaacs, 10 Lungelo Goza, 9 Jacques Fick, 8 Dirk Grobbelaar, 7 Brandon Brown, 6 Luke van der Smit, 5 Dylan Pieterse, 4 Hannes Huishamen, 3 Pieter Stemmet, 2 Martin Bezuidenhout (k), 1 Barend Potgieter.
Replacements: 16 Warrick Venter, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Etienne Oosthuizen, 29 Cullen Callopy, 20 Vian van der Walt, 21 Pieter-Steyn de Wet, 22 Shakes Soyizwapi.

Date: Wednesday, August 31
Venue: Griqua Park, Kimberley
Kick-off: 17:00 local (15:00 GMT)
Referee: AJ Jacobs
Assistant Referees: Jaco Kotze, Griffin Colby
TMO: tbc