By Quintin van Jaarsveld
Southern KwaZulu-Natal Rugby Sub-Union head coach Matthew Burger believes home ground advantage will be the decisive factor when they collide with their Durban rivals in Kokstad on Saturday (3pm kick-off).
Burger’s charges needed a last-gasp Ernst Bezuidenhout drop goal in a tense opener against Zululand to kick-off the defence of their Ebbo Bastard title on a winning note at Douglas Mitchell Sports Grounds in Uvongo last month.
The performance perhaps wasn’t what Burger and his management team had envisioned, but at the end of the day, the result (25-24) was all that mattered to the team, who had just a single training session together on the eve of the first round of matches.
Southern KwaZulu-Natal last season won their first piece of sub-union silverware with a 22-20 win over Durban at Kings Park and Burger knows they are in for a titanic battle in the repeat of the 2013 final this weekend.
Burger, coach of club side Kapaailand near Kokstad, has loaded his matchday squad with players from the region and feels home comforts will be the crucial catalyst come Saturday.
“I think they are the team to beat, so we know they will come at us hard,” Burger told eHowz!t.
“But playing in Kokstad will be a huge advantage for us.
“We have six players from Kapaailand and seven from Kokstad, so we have 13 players from the area and it will be a huge motivation for those players to play in front of their family and friends.”