Loose trio key in Cup final

2010-10-25 22:22

John Bishop – The Witness

Durban - The bruising battle of the backrows will have a profound impact on Saturday’s Currie Cup final between the Sharks and Western Province at Kings Park.

The Sharks and the Cape Town-based team have met on three occasions this year, once in the Super 14 and twice in the Currie Cup, and on each occasion the result has gone to the team dominating the collisions on the gain-line.

In mid-May the Sharks upset the high-riding Stormers in the Super 14, beating them 20-14 in Durban.

Stormers captain Schalk Burger and coach Allister Coetzee acknowledged that the game was the toughest of the Super 14 and conceded they had been out-muscled on the day.

"That was by far the most physical game we have played this year,” said Coetzee. “The Sharks placed us under enormous pressure and we could not hold onto the ball.”

Burger said that the Sharks had “pitched on the day and we did not”, while Sharks coach John Plumtree said his players had been “able to take care of the Stormers at the breakdown”.

He paid tribute to his big men on the day, the two strong back-rowers, Jean Deysel and Willem Alberts, Beast Mtawarira, Jannie du Plessis and John Smit, who successfully snuffed out Province.

The Sharks stayed with the winning recipe in the first round of the Currie Cup, coming away with a 27-16 win and, as in the Super 14, the final scoreline flattered the men from the Cape.

“The game only really caught alight after 45 minutes when we started taking them on up the middle and then winning the collisions,” Plumtree said. “I think that was probably the difference at the end.”

But, in the second round Currie Cup game in Cape Town earlier this month, it was Province who dominated at the tackle as their strong, hard-tackling backrow of Springbok flanks Schalk Burger and Francois Louw, with Duane Vermeulen at number eight, excelled and knocked over the ball-carrying Sharks on the gain line.

Province came away with a 33-21 win and this time it was a late Sharks try which gave the scoreline a misleading look.

"We couldn't get going and we could not pick up any momentum,” said Plumtree. “I thought Province played very well and their backrow was excellent.”

The Sharks, of course, were playing only for pride at Newlands - their top spot on the log was assured – and they lacked intensity while they were also missing their influential flanks, the big Willem Alberts and the productive Keegan Daniel, who were rested.

The loose forward clash in the final promises to be an intriguing and bruising one.

The Sharks, with Ryan Kankowski and Daniel playing in Alberts’ slip-stream, may be the more mobile and more of an attacking threat, but Province’s Vermeulen, Burger and Louw will expect to control the physical contest and create the front-foot ball which is critical in modern rugby.

While the Sharks will obviously enjoy being at home, Province are confident that the experience of playing in the Super 14 final against the Bulls in Soweto at the end of May will help them break their long drought, which has not seen them win a Currie Cup final since 2001.

Coach Allister Coetzee said Province were now looking to winning finals rather than just making up the numbers.

“There is now a culture of making play-off games, but we also want to create a culture of winning those games. It was wonderful to make the Super 14 final and, of course, we would have liked to win it,” Coetzee told reporters on Sunday.

“But was the goal just to make it to the final or to win it? That is the question we are asking of ourselves and it’s something we have discussed. We learned from the experience and that will help us against the Sharks on Saturday.”

Coetzee feels his Province side are better for their Soweto experience.

“Lessons were learned and it was a good experience for the guys. Yes, perhaps it was a case of the Bulls playing their second game there (at Soweto) and we, our first. We did not realise how bad the noise levels in the stadium would be,” he said.

“There will also be noise in Durban. It will be a passionate crowd and the Sharks last lost there in February (against the Cheetahs in the Super 14). It’s the Sharks on their home field and they will be very tough. But we have learnt from our past mistakes.”

The big game kicks off at 17:30 on Saturday and Craig Joubert, who also handled the Super 14 final, will be the referee. 


  • mike - 2010-10-25 23:58

    Stop playing Schalk at number 6, his not a fetcher and to disadvantage your loosie trying to play to the ball by having schalk at 6 is silly. One of the main reasons we where so useless in the tri-nations was because Schalk doesn't play to the ball. He just rams into people all day long, which was great 2 years ago but now days it's just a waste of energy. Yeah great works fine at provincial level but not in the bigger games. I mean the Super 14 final and the Bok games this year should of more then proved that stat. WeePee would be better off playing Schalk at 7 and Louw at 6, in fact drop Flo and play the other louw at 6.

  • BALSAK(alias Blue Bul Hater) - 2010-10-26 06:35

    It's going to be a MOUTHWATERING affair!!!!! WP jou LEKKA DING!!!!

  • Graham - 2010-10-26 07:25

    Hello Mike, You sound like a student of the game. I need a good prediction for Superbru. Who will win and by how much?

  • Steevo - 2010-10-26 07:35

    Schalk is going to try and throw his body in front of everyone! Alberts should just hit him hard a couple of times, that should slow Schalk down a bit! Then, Vermeulen is big and strong, but a bit on the slow side, so, when he gets the ball, go up and catch him behind the gain line! This will throw WeePee on the backfoot affectively and will be a great confidence breaker! And then obviously get the ball to Mvovo to let Aplon make a couple of hard tackles! Go Sharks!

  • Ian - 2010-10-26 07:43

    Apart from the spelling, a completely meaningless comment. WP players are only nominally in the jersey number positions.Schalk plays as a defender and also takes the ball into contact to provide new attacking opportunities.WP don't have any problems with a fetcher, look at the number of turnovers in the Cheetahs game.

  • RAMPAGE - 2010-10-26 09:01

    @ Mike-I think u belong in the kitchen. Is that u writing the comment or is that your boyfriend writing the comment? If u watched the game against Cheaters u would of seen how Schalk played. I think even one of the tries came from turnover ball that Schalk got. Mike just go lay the table or something. Yeah time will tell. WP 4 LIFE

  • Bumble - 2010-10-26 11:20

    Shouldn't SARU change the referee!!! After all Craig Joubert is a born and bred KZN man and an ardent Sharks supporter! What chance do WP have with this man in control of the match???????

  • Pieta - 2010-10-26 11:52

    @Mike. Icould not have said it better.Bottom line is Schalk at 7, drop flou louw and bring in the other the other louw.Much better player.

  • Julz - 2010-10-26 11:53

    Mike you are a fool, and clearly dont knwo to much about rugby.Its only a number, Flo is the team's fetcher.McCaw also plays in jumper no 7. Pieter is good, but he not yet on Flo's level.Going to be tight game..all of the best to both teams!Go WP!!!

  • MACK DIE BLOUE - 2010-10-26 15:34

    pasop vir Alberts , Province...daai man is briljant ! en gou Province GO !!!!!!!!

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