Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points following Western Province’s 33-21 win over the Sharks in the Currie Cup final in Durban:
1. Powerful WP scrum
The foundation for Western Province’s win was laid up front with the visitors’ scrum in particular proving highly effective.
WP destroyed the Sharks in the game’s first scrum and it set the tone for an utterly dominant scrummaging display.
WP props Wilco Louw and JC Janse van Rensburg should take a bow, with tighthead Louw in particular proving a menace for the Sharks’ Thomas du Toit.
It will take a brave Springbok coach to not select Louw to start against Ireland in Dublin...
2. Robert du Preez won the flyhalf battle
WP flyhalf Robert du Preez has developed a habit of playing well against teams coached by his namesake father.
On Saturday, the WP pivot was instrumental in his side’s come-from-behind win.
Du Preez’s game management was again outstanding and his calmness under pressure - whether kicking at goal or in general play - proved vital for the Capetonians.
Luckily for Robert snr his son is set to join him in Durban next year - a loss that WP would certainly rue.
Du Preez's opposite number on Saturday, Curwin Bosch, is however not yet the finished product.
Some pundits predicted that the Sharks flyhalf would prove the difference between the sides in Saturday’s final, but unfortunately for the home side the opposite transpired as Bosch was overshadowed by his counterpart.
Bosch’s defensive frailties were badly exposed on a few occasions, while he also missed vital shots at goal.
He nevertheless showed glimpses of his talent by making a few notable breaks, as well as slotting a monster drop goal in the first half.
Bosch is only 20 years old and he will learn from Saturday’s experience.
3. WP’s win a fitting goodbye for ‘Doc Moss’
After learning on Saturday morning of the passing of Western Province and Springbok legend, Dr Cecil Moss, I couldn’t help but wonder whether it would prove a motivator for the visiting side.
A minute’s silence was held at Kings Park before the game for Moss, who had passed away at the age of 92 on Friday.
‘Doc Moss' - who until Friday was the oldest living Springbok - was a rugby man through and through.
He played four Tests at wing for South Africa against the 1949 All Blacks - a series the Springboks won 4-0 on home soil - but is perhaps best remembered as an administrator and coach.
Educated at South African College Schools (SACS), Moss developed close involvement with the University of Cape Town and played rugby for Western Province, before coaching the Springboks in the 1980s.
Moss was also WP’s team manager during their golden period in the ‘80s when they won the Currie Cup for a record five times in a row between 1982 and 1986.
He was a qualified medical doctor (anaesthetist) and was also part of the medical team who removed the heart from the first heart transplant donor, Denise Darvall in 1967.
WP’s performance on Saturday was a fitting farewell for one if their famous sons...
4. WP managed to buck the trend
By winning Saturday’s final, Western Province broke a finals trend that had developed between these teams in recent years.
Two weeks before Saturday’s final, WP came to Kings Park and convincingly beat the Sharks 31-20.
The Sharks had already secured top spot on the log, while WP were playing for a home semi-final.
This prompted many to say the Sharks were not highly motivated and that they would be a different team in the final.
In recent Currie Cup finals between the sides, the victors had also lost the league game a few weeks prior to the final.
Two weeks before the 2013 final at Newlands, WP had beaten the Sharks 17-13 in Durban, only to get thumped 33-19 at home when it really mattered.
The same happened in the 2010 season, when the Sharks won the final 30-10 in Durban. WP went into that final at Kings Park confident after beating the Sharks 33-21 at Newlands a few weeks earlier.
Two weeks before the 2001 final, the Sharks thumped WP 36-13 in Durban, before the Capetonians turned the tables by winning 29-24 in Cape Town.
The same happened in 2000 when the Sharks won 28-19 in league play at Newlands, only to lose 25-15 at Kings Park a few weeks later.
History suggested that the Sharks would win this past weekend’s final and they looked on track leading 21-10 shortly before half-time, only for WP to buck the trend in spectacular fashion.
WP have now won five out of the eight Curie Cup finals contested with the Sharks since 1984.
5. Two cruel blows for Sharks
Two incidents involving the Sharks' twin brothers Jean-Luc and Dan du Preez had a significant impact on the final result.
The Sharks lost Springbok flank Jean-Luc to what looked like serious ankle injury in the first half. It was a cruel blow to the Sharks’ hopes as their pack was already under severe pressure.
Then, with 10 minutes remaining, his brother Dan received a yellow card for cynically taking out a WP player without the ball while in an off-side position.
By that stage the Sharks were chasing the game and it ended any hopes they might have harboured in hauling WP in.