Brenden Nel - SuperSport
Durban - The Sharks will host the Absa Currie Cup final on October 30 after
putting in a massive display to beat the Vodacom Blue Bulls 16-12 in
one of the most physical semi-finals seen in the competition’s history.It was a truly bizarre afternoon in Durban, when first the game was
delayed because of a swarm of bees that settled on the field, forcing
the kickoff to be 40 minutes later.
a mild rainstorm turned into a monsoon downpour as the game headed to
its climax but through it all it was the Sharks who kept their nerve to
seal a famous victory.
The fact that it was 20 years to the day that they upset the Blue Bulls
in the famous 1990 Currie Cup final at Loftus Versfeld will bring a
smile to Sharks fans. John Plumtree’s team held the ball for most of
the game, tore into the Bulls both on attack and defence and were
deserved victors when the final whistle was blown.
A telling moment came in the last five minutes, as the Bulls reveled in
the wet and found their rhythm, but the Sharks defence held them out
twice with monstrous heart and big tackles to deny the champions
another crack at the title.
The Bulls will be wondering where it went wrong, but in essence they
couldn’t get into gear. The old adage that you only play as good as
your opposition allows you is certainly applicable to this Durban game.
In the end Frans Ludeke’s team will rue the amount of errors and some
poor decision making that cost them the match and the chance of doing
the triple in one season. The Vodacom Cup and Vodacom Super 14 trophies
may lie at Loftus Versfeld, but for the Bulls, the Absa Currie Cup is
lost for another year.
Still, the Sharks knew all too well that they would have to front up
physically if they were to beat a Springbok-laden side like the Bulls.
And this they did. Willem Alberts, Bismarck du Plessis and Jannie du
Plessis in particular looked exceptional, and don’t be surprised if
Alberts gets the nod for the Grand Slam tour next month.
Things went wrong for the defending champs from the beginning, as they
lost the kickoff and were immediately on the back foot. Within three
minutes, Keegan Daniels had taken an inside pass from Charl McLeod to
scamper through around the fringes for the opening try.
With 10 minutes gone, it seemed the Bulls had hardly touched the ball.
Forty Seven tackles in that time showed the Sharks ascendancy and it is
seldom you see a Bulls side struggle to get hold of the ball like they
did in this game.
Morne Steyn’s boot kept the Bulls in touch, as Patrick Lambie was on
song with the few opportunities he was presented. 10-6 at the break may
have been a good scoreline for the Bulls, but it was far from a telling
tale of the Sharks ascendancy throughout the first period.
It was clear the second half was going to be a massive arm wrestle, and
both sides gave as good as they got. Lambie pushed the Sharks out to a
seven point lead, but within minutes, Steyn reduced the lead to four
This see-saw battle continued unabated until eight minutes from the
end, when the Bulls took the big call of pumping the ball into the
corner, searching for the try and for a victory.
The Sharks held firm, putting bodies on the line and stopping the Bulls juggernaut with passion and pride.
And when the final whistle went, a drenched Absa Stadium erupted in
unison to celebrate a famous history. The 1990 victory will always be
remembered, but for the die-hard Sharks fans, this 2010 win will be
remembered for a long time to come.
The Sharks - Try: Keegan Daniel. Conversion: Patrick Lambie. Penalties: Lambie (3).
Vodacom Blue Bulls - Penalties: Morne Steyn (4).