Elephants all fired up for Border
EP skipper says his men must take game to the Bulldogs on Sunday
Expect the EP Elephants to come out with all guns firing from the opening whistle when they face the Border Bulldogs on Sunday, EP skipper Lubabalo “Giant” Mtyanda said.
After suffering a heavy 49-12 defeat against Free State in Mossel Bay on Sunday, EP are determined to get their SuperSport Rugby Challenge back on track against the Bulldogs.
“The problem for us against Free State was that we did not come out firing from the beginning,” Mtyanda said.
“Also, we did not use our opportunities and we need to fix up our mistakes. We need to focus more on our defence and tackling. I thought the team did well with ball in hand and now we need to finish off.”
After three rounds in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge, EP and Border are level-pegging on five log points apiece.
Against Free State, the Elephants found themselves up against a potent pack that dominated proceedings.
Free State coach Izak van der Westhuizen said his team had learned a lesson when they were bullied up front against the Boland Cavaliers.
“We came with an extra front row so we could dominate the scrums and the mauls, I think we did that against EP, so I’m happy,” he said.
“It was a better performance, there are still a few little things we need to sort out like a couple of handling errors, but it was definitely a better performance.”
Now that they’re up to third on the log, Van der Westhuizen said he felt more content.
“It’s a competition in which you can’t really miss a game because things get tight, that’s why we were frustrated with ourselves in the game against Boland. We started well against the Sharks and now EP, hopefully we can keep building on the momentum and see where it takes us.”
EP coach Chumani Booi said his side’s failure to turn up physically had proved costly.
“We were in the game for about 50 minutes, I thought we defended well and were making our tackles. But you can only make so many tackles in a game, you need ball in hand.
“We didn’t have enough ball in hand and, as a result, in the second half when we defended for long periods of time we couldn’t keep ball in hand after creating the turnover. I was quite disappointed with how they outmuscled us up front. We’ve got a big, physical, pack but we didn’t man up.”
While his team had many familiar names from having played PRO14 rugby for the Southern Kings, Booi said few of them were actually regular franchise players.
“Even though they may have had an appearance at PRO14, a lot of the guys have only played one or two games.
“There are only two guys who played more than five games for PRO14 but the rest didn’t, they only trained with the PRO14 side. We’re lacking match fitness and game time.
“But those players do add value to the side and obviously we’re looking to them stabilising the team and giving it confidence.”
Booi, who is in charge as head coach for the first time in his career, after assisting at the Border Bulldogs and the Kings, said he’d had a few challenges going into his tenure.
“It’s got its challenges, I’m learning a lot. The difficulty was starting out while I was still involved with the PRO14 and not being able to bring the team together initially.”..