The Currie Cup dark horses, Tafel Lager Griquas were denied a spot in the Currie Cup final when the Golden Lions edged them 34-19 at Emirates Airlines Park. While the Golden Lions coaching staff picked an unchanged side for the Currie Cup, the Griquas made three changes to theirs which was seen as a gamble for the visiting team.
Dissimilar to their last encounter in Kimberley which ended with a narrow score of just one point separating the teams, the fiercely-contested clash between the two teams this time around was dominated by the Lions through the set pieces and collisions, while the pragmatic Kimberley side weren’t clinical enough with ball in hand. Lions led Griquas 21-13 at halftime in the semi-final at Ellis Park. It was a ding-dong battle but Lions dominated final stages of the second half before eighth man Hacjivah Dayimani burst through to score after the halftime hooter.
Griquas dominated the third quarter, turning down kickable penalties in search of a try, although they ran into difficulty crossing the line. The visitors were heavily reliant on the trusted boot of fly half George Whitehead who contributed 14 of his team’s points even though they were outplayed, this was not reflected on the scoreboard until the closing minutes.
The Lions reach the Currie Cup final for the first time since 2015 and they are set to face the Cheetahs who are ruled as the favourite, on Saturday. Even Griqua’s Janse van Rensburg believes that the Free State Cheetahs will be too much for the Golden Lions in Saturday’s Currie Cup final, “They have played together in the PRO14 and are a very close unit,” he was quoted saying on Netwerk24. Duncan Matthews did really well at number 12 against the visitors and it will be a joy seeing him play that position in the final. The Cheetahs will host the Lions in the final next weekend in Bloemfontein. This was the last match for Griquas head coach Brent Janse van Rensburg who will leave his post at the end of the Currie Cup season to take up an unspecified “higher-level position” elsewhere.