Desperate Griquas face Sharks
Pote Human (Gallo Images)
Kimberley - Griquas have their backs against the wall in their Currie Cup encounter against the Sharks at GWK Park in Kimberley on Saturday.
At the start of the second half of the prestigious competition and with only one win - against the Sharks at the beginning of August - the hosts have to secure a win if they are to move away from the bottom of the table and that ever looming relegation zone.
Should Griquas beat the visitors, and the Blue Bulls come up short on Saturday against Western Province at Loftus Versfeld, the Kimberley outfit will move to fifth place on the log.
But before pondering over the result of the clash in Pretoria, Griquas have to beat a motivated Sharks side at home.
"This is going to be another tough challenge for us," Griquas coach Pote Human said ahead of the clash.
"We've showcased the sort of rugby we can play last week against the Golden Lions, but it still wasn't enough to guarantee a victory.
"The thought of playing in the promotion/relegation matches are starting to tingle in the back of our heads. But we must remain focused and do what needs to be done."
This will be no easy task, as the Sharks have crept up to second place on the log, despite a loss to Western Province in Cape Town last weekend.
Motivated to get back to winning ways and with youngster Pieter-Steph du Toit back in the side, the Sharks will be a difficult outfit to beat.
Bolstered by Australian lock Rory Arnold, who was cleared of a biting charge earlier in the week, flank Marnus Schoeman and No 8 Carel Greeff, the hosts will be looking to make their presence felt with their forward pack early on.
"They've got Pieter-Steph back and obviously he will be a key factor for them," Human added.
"They also have guys like Jacques Botes and Jean Deysel who are very physical.
"Our guys will be tested, for sure. But we trust that they have more than enough to factor out the Sharks' 'go-to guys'."
The Sharks lost to Griquas in round one of the competition, having appointed Bredan Venter as director of rugby shortly after the dismissal of John Plumtree as head coach.
According to Sharks coach Brad McLeod-Henderson, the Sharks have begun to find their feet with under a new coaching structure and is confident the team have regained their best form.
"We've settled in a bit," McLeod-Henderson said.
"Yes, things did not go as planned last weekend against Western Province, but this is a new week and a new game.
"We aren't travelling to Kimberley under any illusions. We know it is going to be tough.
"Griquas is a side that plays for the full 80 minutes. You can never give them any chance of coming back. We are going to be tested physically, but we believe we are up for the challenge."
15. PJ Vermeulen, 14. Nico Scheepers, 13. JP Nel, 12. Howard Mnisi, 11. Rocco Jansen, 10. Francois Brummer, 9. Marnus Hugo, 8. Carel Greeff, 7. Burger Schoeman, 6. Marnus Schoeman, 5. Victor Kruger, 4. Rory Arnold, 3. Nick Schonert, 2. Ryno Barnes (captain), 1. Steph Roberts
Substitutes: 16. Matt Dobson, 17. Brummer Badenhorst, 18. Patrick O'Brien, 19. RJ Liebenberg, 20. Jacques Coetzee, 21. Du Randt Gerber, 22. Gouws Prinsloo
15. SP Marais, 14. Sizo Maseko, 13. Louis Ludik, 12. Tim Whitehead, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Butch James, 9. Charl McLeod, 8. Jacques Botes (captain), 7. Jean Deysel, 6. Keegan Daniel, 5. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4. Edwin Hewitt, 3. Wiehahn Herbst, 2. Kyle Cooper, 1. Danie Mienie
Substitutes: 16. Monde Hadebe, 17. Dale Chadwick, 18. Peet Marais, 19. Justin Downey, 20. Cobus Reinach, 21. Fred Zeilinga, 22. Jaco van Tonder