Currie Cup

WP haunted by 2010 final?

2012-10-22 12:01
Allister Coetzee (Gallo)
Cape Town – Two years hardly constituting a long time on rugby’s frenetic calendar, major trophy-shy Western Province are likely to be spooked at least to some extent by memories of the 2010 Currie Cup final when they contest the showpiece at the very same venue on Saturday (17:00 kick-off).

How could they not be, when only too aware that the Sharks prevailed by a clear-cut 30-10 at Mr Price Kings Park on October 30 of that season?

The match is pretty aptly described in the 2011 SA Rugby Annual as “the 50th final in the competition’s 118-year history but also one of the most one-sided ... the platform was laid upfront”.

Patrick Lambie was then an especially fresh-faced 20-year-old and, aided by the same kind of forward domination in front of him that characterised last Saturday’s 20-3 semi-final dismantling of the Blue Bulls, contributed 25 points (including two tries) to the near-rout.

Usefully older and wiser -- and in excellent form and with Springbok No 10 aspirations into the bargain -- don’t discount the possibility of Lambie being as influential on the big day once more.

So, to the question of whether the visitors will be haunted by the equivalent 2010 occasion, the answer is probably both yes and no.

“Yes” because of carbon copy home-ground advantage and the ominous possibility of a gnarly Sharks pack bossing all-important front-foot momentum in a repeat of history, but also “no” because you can be sure that wily WP coach Allister Coetzee and his lieutenants will be doing their level-best this week to convince their charges that they have the mettle and underdog’s “gees” this year to gain revenge for that drubbing.

Injury-hit and consequently more rookie-laden than they would like in certain positions, Coetzee and company will implore some tiring, overplayed (in several instances, anyway) troops to summon one last heroic effort  and match the resilience and courage shown in the come-from-behind semis triumph over the Lions in their own den.

It would also be true to say that not too many of the current WP ranks actually took part in the 2010 “horror show”, so any lingering psychological frailty as a result ought to be limited.

Although team selections for the 2012 final will only become apparent from Wednesday – Province are traditionally scheduled to reveal their line-up around lunchtime then, though Sharks coach John Plumtree tends to be cagey for longer – the WP XV will by necessity look greatly different from the 2010 one.

The only likely “same starters” will be Gio Aplon, Juan de Jongh, Bryan Habana, Duane Vermeulen and Deon Fourie, although the last-named player will be both captain and probably at open-side flank rather than hooker this time around.

The Sharks’ selection is rather less obvious at this stage because Plumtree has the luxury of chewing over whether to start with certain Springbok stalwarts – like Beast Mtawarira and Willem Alberts – or stick to some faithful, more-than-competent troops from the round-robin stage and handily introduce some big guns off the bench again.

Many WP players from the 2010 mix are now right out of the picture (like Conrad Jantjies, Willem de Waal, Ricky Januarie, Anton van Zyl, Adriaan Fondse and JD Moller), whilst the Newlands-based side are hamstrung by such high-profile, injury-enforced absentees as Schalk Burger, Jean de Villiers, Andries Bekker, Tiaan Liebenberg and Rynhardt Elstadt.

For interest’s sake, these were the 2010 final starting XVs:

Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Stefan Terblanche (c), 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.

WP: 15 Conrad Jantjies, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Willem de Waal, 9 Ricky Januarie, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Schalk Burger (c), 5 Anton van Zyl, 4 Adriaan Fondse, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 JD Moller.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

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