THE Welwitschias conclude their Currie Cup First Division campaign with a historic match against the Boland Cavaliers in Swakopmund on Saturday afternoon.
It will be the first time that the Welwitschias will be in action at the coastal town and they certainly can expect a tough outing against the Cavaliers who will be out to secure a semifinal spot, before the knockout stages begin next weekend.
The Cavaliers are currently fourth on the log on 19 points, but cannot afford a slip-up as fifth placed SWD Eagles on 17 points can still overtake them.
The top two teams on the log, the Griffons on 30 points and the Leopards on 24 are assured of reaching the semifinals, but the Cavaliers and even third-placed Hino Valke on 21 points, can still be overtaken.
The Valke have a difficult match against the Leopards, but the Eagles are at home to bottom-placed EP Kings and will be fancied to collect maximum points, which could see them moving ahead of the Cavaliers on the log.
That's why a victory for the Cavaliers against the Welwitschias on Saturday will be crucial if they hope to make the semifinals.
The Welwitschias were also in the running for a semifinal spot, but three narrow defeats have put them out of the running and they are currently second last on the log on 12 points.
But with a bit of luck, they could well have been a semifinal contender this season, which underlines the vast improvement they have made over the past year, and they will be determined to finish their campaign on a high.
In last year's inaugural competition, the Welwitschias lost all their matches and finished bottom of the log with only one bonus point.
This year they recorded their first victory against the EP Kings (51-25) and narrowly lost to the Valke (56-47), SWD Eagles (36-32) and Border Bulldogs (26-25).
Last weekend's defeat to the Bulldogs in East London, in fact, was particularly painful after the hosts scored the winning try off the last move of the match.
"That was our best team performance of the season," Welwitschias coach Lyn Jones said earlier this week.
"We were leading 21-15 with 13 minutes to go, but all our hard work was in vain when Border scored the winning try as the hooter blew for the end of the game. The players were heartbroken to have lost the match by the slightest of margins," he added.
Jones said it was a great team effort, but singled out some players for their strong performances.
"There were big games from Max Katjijeko and Ruan Ludick, who dominated the line-outs, while eighthman Thomas Kali was a pain and a constant threat to the opposition. Mahco Prinsloo gave his usual error-free performance at fullback, while hooker Obert Nortje was excellent," he said.
Jones, however, added that playing at sea level, with the accompanying wind, was a challenge for the team, so hopefully they will adapt quicker tomorrow when similar conditions can be expected.
Jones has made five changes to tomorrow's starting line-up, with Herman Grobler replacing AJ de Klerk at prop; Denzil van Wyk coming in for Mahepisa Tjeriko at lock; Rohan Kitshoff replacing Max Katjijeko at flank; and the experienced halfback pair of Eugene Jantjies and Theuns Kotze coming in for Jantjies at fly half and TC Kisting at scrum half.
The match will start at 15h00 at the Swakopmund Sports Field and will be preceded by several other matches from 09h00 onwards.
Tickets are available at webtickets.com.na, Pick 'n Pay or at the gate.
The Windhoek Draught Welwitschias team is as follows:
Hauta Veii, Obert Nortje, Herman Grobler, Ruan Ludick, Denzil van Wyk, Rohan Kitshoff, Thomasau Forbes, Thomas Kali, Eugene Jantjies, Theuns Kotze, David Philander, Darryl de la Harpe, Lesley Klim, Johan Tromp and Mahco Prinsloo.
The substitutes are Niel van Vuuren, AJ de Klerk, Nelius Theron, Munovita Kasiringua, Riaan de Klerk, Pieter Steenkamp and Heinrich Smit.