The Sharks claimed the 2013 Currie Cup title at Newlands on Saturday thanks to a 33-19 victory over holders Western Province.
The Sharks claimed the 2013 Currie Cup title at Newlands on Saturday thanks to a 33-19 victory over defending champions Western Province.
A year after seeing the trophy snatched away from their hands on home soil against the same opposition, the team from Durban returned the favour, inflicting Province's first defeat of the season in the process.
Scrum-half Charl McLeod scored on either side of half-time to hand the Sharks their seventh title in the 121-year history of the world's oldest provincial championship. The result is also WP's first loss in a home final in 74 years.
The Sharks led 19-13 at the interval but could have – should have – been a lot further ahead if it were not for some wayward kicking from Pat Lambie. A high-paced first half saw the teams score a try each but the WP's difficulties at the set piece robbed them of momentum at crucial stages.
Lambie was both hero and villain for the men in black, missing a total of eleven points from the tee but finishing with a total 23, including two clinical drop-goals, one in each half, as just reward for his pack's hard graft.
The impact – or lack thereof – from Western Province's returning Springboks will be a major talking point in the aftermath as the home side failed to match their visitors' intensity.
Less than three minutes had elapsed when Lambie opened the scoring from the kicking tee after WP had collapsed a Sharks maul.
By the five-minute mark the Sharks were 10-0 up thanks to an intercept try from McLeod, who sprinted home from 60 metres out. Lambie added the extras to give the visitors a dream start.
Province replied almost immediately as centre Damian de Allende slipped out of a weak tackle from Jannie du Plessis to ghost over. The conversion from Demetri Catrakilis capped a thrilling opening ten minutes.
The home side were struggling at line-out time with Pieter-Steph du Toit causing havoc in the air. Lambie had a chance to add another penalty for the same offence as the first, but sent a relatively easy kick wide to leave the gap at three points at the end of the first quarter.
The Sharks fly-half made no mistake with his next effort though after Gio Aplon was pinged for not releasing. Catrakilis pulled three points back for WP – once the stars in his eyes had cleared after being hit high by Du Toit – to leave the scores at 13-10.
Lambie landed a neat drop goal just before the half-hour mark but once again Catrakilis was able cut the gap to three points with a penalty for offside as half-time loomed large.
The Sharks should have lead by a lot more at the break but Lambie missed two more kicks at goal before finally nailing one to give the visitors a six-point cushion as the teams headed for the changing rooms.
The ding-dong battle between the kickers continued in the second half as Catrakilis and Lambie exchange penalties.
The Sharks thought they had scored after Catrakilis was knocked-out cold and spilled the ball in the lead up to Lwazi Mvovo crossing, but the TMO disallowed the try for Bismarck du Plessis being offside at the previous ruck.
Lambie made sure the Sharks didn't leave the opposition half empty-handed as he landed his second drop but WP replacement fly-half Kurt Coleman slotted a penalty to keep his side in touch.
The Sharks landed the killer blow just before the hour mark though as McLeod scampered over for his second try following a powerful drive from Willem Alberts.
Lambie added another penalty from long range to put the game out of reach.
Man of the match: Obviously McLeod deserves a mention for his two tries but Pieter-Steph du Toit was the standout performer both in the air at line-out time and around the collision area where he impressed with his strength and agression.
Moment of the match: It was anyone's game until McLeod's second try took the wind out of WP's sails
Villain of the match: No real nasty stuff to report.
For Western Province:
Try: De Allende
Pens: Catrakilis 3, Coleman
Tries: McLeod 2
Pens: Lambie 5
Drops: Lambie 2
Western Province: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Jean de Villiers, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Cheslin Kolbe, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Deon Fourie (cpt), 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Frans Malherbe, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Michael Rhodes, 19 Schalk Burger, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Kurt Coleman, 22 Juan de Jongh.
Sharks: 15 SP Marais, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Louis Ludik, 12 Francois Steyn, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Keegan Daniel (cpt), 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Peet Marais, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Stephan Lewies, 19 Jacques Botes, 20 Cobus Reinach, 21 Fred Zeilinga, 22 Heimar Williams.
Venue: Newlands, Cape Town
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan
Assistant Referees: Christie du Preez, Stefan Breytenbach
TMO: Deon van Blommestein
By Ross Hastie at Newlands