Griquas and Cheetahs meet in pick of the Currie Cup action
July 20, 2005
On the evidence of results between them in recent years, the Cheetahs should hold the upper hand when they meet Griquas in a Currie Cup Section Y qualifying match in Kimberley on Saturday.
However any self-respecting rugby fan in central South Africa will confirm that there is rarely a quarter given in "derby" matches between these two.
The Cheetahs have an impressive Currie Cup pedigree. They were beaten finalists in 2004 and appeared in the semi-finals in three of the four years between 2000 and 2003. Yet, despite such consistent achievements the Cheetahs only have a single Currie Cup title to their name, won way back in 1976 when they beat WP 33 - 16 in the final.
While Griquas have consistently been amongst the country's top eight Provinces, their last truly successful Currie Cup season was in 1998. Coached at the time by Andre Markgraaff, they finished top of the log having won 11 of their 13 games - only to lose to Western Province in a semi-final in Kimberley. Griquas' last Currie Cup title dates even further back to 1970 when, in their only-ever final, they beat Northern Transvaal (Blue Bulls) 11 - 9. Previous Griquas titles in 1899 and 1911 (shared with Transvaal) did not feature finals but were based on log positions.
Both sides have made a strong start to the Currie Cup qualifying round. The Cheetahs lead the Section Y standings with 18 points after four wins in as many starts. Griquas are third on 14 points after winning their first three.
The Cheetahs go in as favourites having won 9 of their last 10 outings but Griquas will be looking to make the most out of their home ground advantage and the presence of seasoned campaigner Braam van Straaten who has been a key figure in their performances to date. The contest between van Straaten and his opposite number Willem de Waal will be interesting.