Durban - Sharks coach John Plumtree hailed 2012 as a year he will never forget after his team moved a step closer towards the Currie Cup title with victory over the Blue Bulls in Durban on Saturday evening.
Springbok utility back Patrick Lambie kicked 15 points to add to a late try by Lwazi Mvovo as the Durban side claimed a dominating 20-3 semi-final victory at a wet Kings Park.
They will now host Western Province in next weekend’s decider, after the Capetonians edged the Lions 21-16 in the other last four clash.
Plumtree's men have already played and lost two back-to-back major finals - last year's Currie Cup against the Golden Lions, and the Super Rugby final, when they were beaten by the Chiefs.
"It’s been an amazing year," Plumtree said.
"To be in a Super 15 final and then three months later to be hosting a Currie Cup final is really great.
"It’s a year that I won’t forget. I mean obviously we’ve got a big week and still need to play 80 minutes, but I’m really proud of everyone in the team, in the squad and management."
Plumtree said he was relieved about securing the victory after he had sleepless nights in the build-up to the match.
The match was largely a kicking contest, especially early on, as both sides seemed reluctant to hold on to the ball.
"It looked like both sides were quite nervous, especially in that first 15-20 minutes," the Sharks coach said.
"I was particularly pleased with that 20 minutes before half-time, but after that our lineout didn’t function too well and we didn’t do too much of attacking in the game."
He praised his charges for their defensive efforts and for remaining disciplined on the night.
"I guess we exerted a bit of pressure and got reward for it," Plumtree said.
"We talk about our defence and discipline being good, not giving away dumb penalties. I think we did that tonight."
Bulls coach Pine Pienaar was predictably unhappy by the manner in which his side bowed out, but played down suggestions that they lacked ambition.
"What they’ve done better tonight is kicking more accurately than us," Pienaar said.
"Their contestables were more spot on than what we offered and basically the pressure they put on us turned into penalties.
"So I wouldn’t say they were more ambitious than us, they were just more accurate."
He admitted that his side were not good enough, and that the Sharks adapted better to the wet conditions.
"I’m pretty disappointed with our showing tonight," Pienaar said.
"They handled better in their own half in those terrible conditions.
"I think both sides came out all guns blazing defensively, the gainline battle was immense.
"Well done to them, they finished top of the log and they deserve to host that home final."