Dale College coach Grant Griffiths speaks to MARIETTE ADAMS about Saturday’s match against Selborne in Kings William’s Town.
Dale have won 15 out of 16 games this season. Which was the best?
The two victories over Grey High and Selborne were special. We beat Grey in Port Elizabeth for the first time in 22 years and the win over Selborne was our 100th overall against our main rivals.
Given the strength of opposition Dale face annually, did you expect the success you’ve had in 2016?
[Laughs] To be quite honest, no. It’s not something you tell the players, but as coaches we never thought it would turn out this way. We had set certain goals, but we did not just achieve those goals, we exceeded them.
Are Dale favourites to beat Selborne?
I wouldn’t say that. Selborne started off the season slowly, but they are a brilliant team with exceptional coaches. As the hosts, people will probably pick us to win, but it in my view it’s 50/50. It’s going to be an exciting match.
If you win on Saturday, you will complete a season double over Selborne.
Beating any of our traditional rivals twice in the same year doesn’t happen often. More importantly, victory will ensure Dale stay undefeated against fellow Eastern Cape schools in 2016. It’s not something we strategically planned in pre-season, but as the year progressed it became more and more probable and with three games remaining that is the goal we are focused on now.
How has your preparation been this week?
We haven’t changed much in our approach, but we’ve been working on the mental side of things more since Monday. The boys are keen to take on a Selborne outfit who they know will be better prepared than they were in April, so mental toughness will be key when our players are under pressure.
Dale have emerged as the leading school in the Eastern Cape. Are you satisfied with your style of play?
We are happy, especially with our attacking structures. I guess if there is one area we should work on after the last game, it’s our kicking. Our defence has been outstanding and it has won us a couple of games, but our kicking – in open play and at goal – has been poor.
What about your team has impressed you the most this year?
The all-round attitude of the team. Whether they are at a Monday training session or gearing up to play a match, the mindset of this group of players is amazing.
Will Dale be at full strength on Saturday?
Our captain and No 8 Siyanda Am is out through illness, otherwise everyone else is fit and eager to get the job done.
The 1st XV will swap their traditional red-and-black kit for pink this Saturday. What is the Pink Day at Dale initiative all about?
Once a year our first teams across the various sports go pink in support of the Cancer Association of South Africa [Cansa]. Many people associated with Dale – whether they are old boys, current learners, teachers, sponsors and just family or friends from our rival schools – have been directly or indirectly affected by cancer. By wearing pink we are hoping to raise awareness and funds to support Cansa and everyone touched by the disease.
Photo: Richard Huggard/Gallo Images