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
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
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
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.
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