Sharks heavy final favourites

2012-10-21 12:03

Cape Town - A formidable array of signs point to a Sharks success in the Currie Cup final coastal “derby” against Western Province at Mr Price Kings Park next Saturday.

Evidence from this weekend’s semi-finals alone suggests that the home side will be far likelier to hoist the domestic trophy after botching the showpiece rather spectacularly last year, when the Lions whipped them 42-16 at Coca-Cola Park.

The Sharks were full value for their victory over the Blue Bulls on Saturday, a game punctuated by several Springbok incumbents in the visiting camp being quite thoroughly outplayed by fired-up home-town positional rivals.

Topping that list was flyhalf Patrick Lambie, who admittedly had the benefit of a dominant pack in front of him, but eclipsed an impotent Morné Steyn (many believe he is set for an end-of-year-tour recall) in just about every facet of play.

It was a powerful plea for Bok coach Heyneke Meyer, who has seldom entrusted Lambie with decent game-time this year, to consider him his first-choice pivot on the three-match tour, especially as another Young Turk, Elton Jantjies, had an erratic day in the Lions’ late 21-16 reverse to Province in the later semi in Johannesburg.

Further illuminating - or should that read worrying? - aspects from a national perspective of the Sharks’ clear-cut 20-3 win in a soggy Durban included Louis Ludik bossing a predictable Zane Kirchner in the fullback duel, and No 5 lock Anton Bresler particularly overshadowing a lethargic Juandré Kruger in their second-row scrap.

In the Big Smoke, the Lions-WP battle was different in that the home side dictated matters for pretty long periods, but came up short on the scoreboard as Province’s unrelenting spirit and a remarkable second wind late in the final quarter swayed things in a nail-biter.

Certainly there would have been many tired, aching bodies in the away dressing room at Coca-Cola Park, despite the jubilant buzz.

Once again a WP pack (you might extend that to say Stormers, too) played second fiddle for front-foot status in a high-stakes, knockout-phase encounter, forcing the team collectively into plenty of tackling and scrambling.

Allister Coetzee’s charges are down to bare bones for “grunt” factors up front at present, as there is little doubt they are missing absent gladiators like Tiaan Liebenberg, Andries Bekker, Rynhardt Elstadt and Schalk Burger.

Their scrum, featuring a plucky, hard-grafting but still noticeably greenhorn front row of Steven Kitshoff, Scarra Ntubeni and Frans Malberbe, took strain against the Lions again, and that is ominous when you consider the Bok stalwarts in the boiler room they will potentially be up against next Saturday.

Not that there is no reason at all for hope among fans of the blue-and-whites: the WP rolling maul remains a device of great majesty - especially when some of its participants have their shorts reassuringly stationed in the correct, raised position! - and against the Lions the lineout was also a strong department with Eben Etzebeth and the fast-emerging Don Armand to the fore.

Speaking of Etzebeth, the rookie Bok must have a quite remarkable engine because even after such a murderously long and highly successful maiden first-class campaign thus far, he continues to ooze iron-willed commitment and muscularity.

He reserved some of his most inspired and forceful rugby for the closing minutes of the semi, and it was crucial.

One factor that will fuel Province in the final is their desperation to claim a major trophy. Many pundits, at least partly understandably, still pooh-pooh the Super Rugby conference spoils, and WP’s last Currie Cup success was as far back as 2001, when the now long-retired Braam van Straaten landed 24 points in a 29-24 Newlands triumph over the very Sharks.

All that said, the Sharks will certainly find heavy favour this week with the bookies for the showpiece.

Coach John Plumtree has very shrewdly rotated players since the return of several Boks to the Currie Cup picture, leaving him with a bit of an embarrassment of riches and a greater array of fresh legs to mull over in terms of his final line-up.

Recent statistical ammunition also points powerfully to a Sharks conquest next weekend: for starters, they have won both round-robin tussles (25-23 in Cape Town and then 43-27 in Durban).

Then in 2012 Super Rugby, the Sharks convincingly won the semi-final meeting at Newlands 26-19 - the Stormers pack was arguably stronger on paper than today’s WP one then - and also the Durban conference clash 25-20.

The Stormers did squeeze out the Cape Town conference game 15-12, but it was a truly ding-dong battle.

Another handy ally for the Sharks is the memory of their 30-10 grilling of Province the last time these foes met in the Currie Cup final at Mr Price Kings Park, as recently as 2010.

Still, WP’s determined “David” bracing themselves for the collective home-town “Goliath” is bound to keep the pot boiling nicely in anticipation of Saturday’s domestic showdown...

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing


  • jjskosana - 2012-10-21 12:15

    who can stop the sharks now?... Not WP not the ref.

      macziekpk - 2012-10-21 12:31

      If they get Bryce Lawrence again, well the WP may as well not turn up. Not that I am complaining. Go Sharks.

      macziekpk - 2012-10-21 12:42

      I hope they get a copy of the rulebook the ref will be using before the game

      TravieGrif - 2012-10-21 20:29

      Isak, the talk of favourites and underdogs is nothing more that just WP deserve to be in this final, and there is no way that Plumtree or the Sharks will be underestimating this team at all. There were lots of things that went wrong for us on Saturday that could have hurt, none more so than our line outs, so lots of work to be done, and its going to be huge. I will never be arrogant enough to make a prediction, but I really hope that the Sharks can do it.

      George - 2012-10-21 21:18

      Maczie-you are the biggest loser of all chap....the end score was not close and should of been shouldn't be blaming the ref for the loss but more on the fact that the sharks were better in every aspect of the game and should be applauding the way the sharks played the game which was clinical execution.

      macziekpk - 2012-10-22 07:00

      Stopped reading when I read "should of" - that is a grammatical faux pas

  • anton.dejong - 2012-10-21 12:19

    Mornè Steyn, did he play yesterday, o yes, he kicked away circa 8 of the 9 balls he received away, and that is the sum total of what he meant for his Team. Nothing.

      macziekpk - 2012-10-21 13:01

      Circa usually refers to a date Mr Pseudo intellectual

      zane.hendry.5 - 2012-10-21 13:39

      @ macziekpk It means approximately usually refer to date, key word there usually.

      macziekpk - 2012-10-21 14:34

      No one says circa 8 or 9 balls, unless they are dunces

      goyougoodthing - 2012-10-21 14:38

      Morne also threw his toys and tripped up a Shark and then went in with the swingin arm. Filthy little boy he is when things don't go his way.

      macziekpk - 2012-10-21 14:54

      So where is the citing?

      sponge.plank - 2012-10-21 15:03

      usually - not exclusively!

  • - 2012-10-21 12:31

    Is this Rob Houwing trying to post WP as the underdogs already? it's not even Monday yet. - 2012-10-21 13:44

      Have the balls to post under you real name and I'll bother responding to you.

      macziekpk - 2012-10-21 14:24

      It is my real name idiot

      terry.burne - 2012-10-21 14:36

      @ macpie - you got that right ...... for once! - 2012-10-21 14:56

      @ Macziek Poklewski Koziel Really!?!?!?! Bwhahahahaha. Is it from all the years of being called names that you resort to name calling? Your kindergarden teacher has asked if you can please stop accessing the internet and return the laptop. I told her I'd ask you, but that she had nothing to worry about as you were still only using single syllable words and that your young brain was not trying to get too far ahead of itself yet.

      macziekpk - 2012-10-21 15:08

      This is a Polish name, it means Extremely Knowledgeable and Widely Read Rugby Kenner Extraordinaire - 2012-10-21 15:22

      Hehehehe that is a coincidence. Here's me thinking you behave like a plank and it turns out you actually think you are a pole. - 2012-10-21 19:01

      You see the only thing you know about me is what you see in my picture. If you knew ANYTHING you'd know I don't get offended by name calling.

      jacowium - 2012-10-21 20:42

      Decent folk with brains 1 macziekpk 0 - 2012-10-22 08:45

      I would debate with you, but It's getting a little tedious and I'm sure it's almost morning nap time at kindergarden for you. - 2012-10-22 09:18

      Awwwwww did the teacher take your laptop away and make you delete your last comment? Awwwwwww it's okay little girl maybe she'll let you play again later.

  • dale.cuthbertson.7 - 2012-10-21 12:41

    Would like to see the sharks vs NZ B-team just for interests sake. Not mentioning the Chiefs VS Sharks final as there was way too much homeground advantage, not even mentioning jet lag.

      niel.walt - 2012-10-21 12:46

      The chiefs beat the sharks in durban aswell, 18 - 12

      david.s.duncan.1 - 2012-10-21 12:55

      The Sharks were missing key players in that Durban game Niel. Without Alberts and Beast our pack lacked the grunt our game needs. If we get lucky with our injuries, next year we have a good chance of going all the way in the S15.

      macziekpk - 2012-10-21 12:59

      I would like to see the Sharks vs the NZ C team because that makes as little sense as wanting to see them play the B team. What are you talking about? Stop being such a Richard

      niel.walt - 2012-10-21 13:23

      Record book states chiefs 18 sharks 12. U even lost to griekwas now u want to come vomit nonsense about nz b teams and such.

      hans.himmler.7 - 2012-10-21 18:25

      Macbullsht, Bulls deserved 1 out of 3 Super Titles, so get off your high bull. 2007 was thanks to Steve Walsh, second was a pathetic Chiefs side - the score reflected the reality.

      leak.sadie - 2012-10-21 18:34

      Shamepies ou Hans, die suurdruiwe maak jou klaar oubaas se honne. En dan's jy nog so dom soos 'n boks hare ook

      hans.himmler.7 - 2012-10-21 18:43

      Leakemia, please post your drivel on the ancyl blogs, it doesn't make sense here.

      hans.himmler.7 - 2012-10-21 18:56

      The 3rd title well deserved, and supported the boys in Blue.

      macziekpk - 2012-10-21 23:13

      Still 3 titles. 3 more than the sharks and stormers combined. Disgrace to SA rugby the stormers and sharks screwing up the super rugby 2012 by choking

      lean.sadie - 2012-10-22 03:05

      Sharks gonna come down to earth, soon to be 3 finals in a row lost. And they call WP chokers? These guys take the cake. Almost more playoffs, than all other SA Teams combined in super rugby, and yet still no titles. Let's see if they can keep their record going, of losing in finals games.

      macziekpk - 2012-10-22 07:02

      Almost more playoffs than other teams combined....thanks for that new stat. The almost combined stat.

  • ndabenhle.g.ngcobo - 2012-10-21 12:54

    Yeah,no doubt about it. WP seemingly having nothing to lose. The Sharks will have to show their mettle and Im confident they will.

  • andrew.gordon.505523 - 2012-10-21 12:56

    Careful. The beginning of this years super rugby the bookies were against the stormers for the first 4 out 5 games....Stormers won all of them. One of them being the sharks

      david.s.duncan.1 - 2012-10-21 13:10

      You were gifted your first one in 2007 macziekpk

      david.s.duncan.1 - 2012-10-21 13:11

      When was your last trophy macziekpk?? Those years add up fast hey

      macziekpk - 2012-10-21 13:20

      We were gifted nothing. Steve Walsh was on the sauce at that time, we can excuse him of course. Bulls always play the refs. It's a sad reality

      macziekpk - 2012-10-21 14:25

      My last trophy personally? Just last week I won employee of the month looking after my trust fund

  • leon.young.9003 - 2012-10-21 14:28

    How quickly do people forget how andre watson gave the 1998 currie cup to the bulls in the semifinal against the sharks the buls got 19 penalties and the sharks 5 in the final watson denied wp the winning try in 2007 steve walsh gave the super 14 title to the bulls can anyone honestly say the sharks were not the better team yesterday

      macziekpk - 2012-10-21 14:35

      I can honestly say that. The Sharks' best player was Bryce Lawrence

      Priesterb - 2012-10-21 14:36

      Leon, the Sharks were the better team. I have said it long before the game. The issue is that the match would have been much more entertaining without the negative inputs from Mark the Shark. Having said this, I think the Sharks would have won anyway as the Bulls were just not good enough.

      macziekpk - 2012-10-21 15:02

      Sharks were always going to win, but to give 9 points to the other team for scrumming penalties and give penalties for things that should not have been penalised is ridiculous. Shark Lawrence destroyed a good game. And on top of that, there was no enough fighting, tripping and only a couple swinging arms. It's not rugby without senseless violence

      malcolm.molver - 2012-10-21 15:46

      Macziekpk, you are a sour loser. A retard of note. Accept that the Bulls were beaten by the better team yesterday and move on. Yes, Mark Lawrence is a poor ref, but he's shown before he's a WP supporter!

      macziekpk - 2012-10-21 16:16

      Obviously, because he didn't want them to face the Bulls in the final. Marius Jonker and him did a good double team on the Lions and Bulls. Currie Cup rugby means nothing now with the 4 Nations now watering it down to such an insipid level. The Bulls always take the brunt of it because of their might. The Boks need the Bulls so we have to be organ donors for the Green and Gold Barbarians. Vodacom Cup volume 2. That Indian guy the cup is named after is rolling in his tomb

  • Riaan - 2012-10-21 14:44

    Bad decision making by the refs is here 2 stay,like injuries,it is part of the game.Why not get a ref from overseas 2 handle important games like this???and nt local one's!

      macziekpk - 2012-10-21 15:03

      Why not just tel the opposing team to stay at home because the outcome has been decided by the ref before the game

      lean.sadie - 2012-10-22 03:09

      macpie, you are so stupid, there are no words for it. Play with your mommy.

      macziekpk - 2012-10-22 07:03

      You just put it into words so how are there no words?

  • gunner.zn.5 - 2012-10-21 15:27

    Obvious..SHARKS forever

  • roy.wadhams.1 - 2012-10-21 15:52

    GO WP lets prove everyone wrong and show them what we are made of. The two BEST teams are playing because the Morne Steyn/Zane Kirchener team is OUT,not that the Bulls team would have made it at all,so go WPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP!

      macziekpk - 2012-10-21 16:17

      Steyn and Kirchenator vs Shark Lawrence...easy to see who is the clear winner. Shark "you are here under permission of the referee and I am the referee" Lawrence

      macziekpk - 2012-10-21 16:24

      Soon to be 12

      lean.sadie - 2012-10-22 03:10

      These trolls get so hurt, anytime anybody even mentions WP in anything, they come here to say the same drivel. They will have sleepless nights if WP win, and will have to kill themselves knowing that they have loved players like MS and Niknaks.

      macziekpk - 2012-10-22 07:04

      If the WP win, the Currie Cup is merely a watered down tournament now with 80% of it played without the Boks. THey may as well call it Vodacom Cup pt 2

  • Quintin Rowan - 2012-10-21 16:06

    All of them will be surprise. It's our cup. WP jou lekker ding 4 life.

      macziekpk - 2012-10-21 16:18

      Can't wait to see the WP players crying again.

      leak.sadie - 2012-10-21 16:18

      You've said that for 11years now

  • steveroodt - 2012-10-21 17:10

    Well Done Boys Great win Clever coaching Plumb Looking forward to a good curry next sat so need that Currie Cup mmmmmm come on Sat mouth watering just thinking about it

  • niel.walt - 2012-10-21 18:25

    How embarassing was it for elton to get smashed by a flea in a scrumcap?

      leak.sadie - 2012-10-21 18:32

      Both are fleas though. It's like saying the feather weight boxer knocked his opponent down. Well both weigh 45kg, so what?

      lean.sadie - 2012-10-22 03:11

      says the guy with a penis smaller than a flea.

  • robert.reeve.7564 - 2012-10-21 18:31

    Well done Sharks you've given the Boks a flyhalf - that's if the HM can see. We'll even buy you all a beer to celebrate our 11 year draught and be magnanimous if otherwise. It's beach party time now and not braai and bubblearse in the vaal...

  • Sammy Willow - 2012-10-21 18:57

    well done sharks, smashed the bulls and showed up what s%&t players Morne and krusty the clown are

  • keba.mothoagae - 2012-10-21 19:57

    Like how the graceful Sharks fans are disassociating themselves from the Bulls fans' attempted love-ins. Matfield and du Preez are by-the-by so the reality of being rank outsiders is sinking in. What better way to to wipe your eyes than to annoy us nervous WP Faithful. The Sharks are breathing fire. Province is clearly a team on the rise but lacking that x-factor. The lack of a trophy for such a long time can also play on your psyche. On the bright side, there's no \senior\ players to disappear during a vital match. Just a group of super-talented kids who have to go ftw as we really don't expect them to turn over the Sharks at the Tank. But there's nothing wrong in hoping for an all-time shock.

  • keba.mothoagae - 2012-10-21 20:03

    I'm also very disappointed with people on the Net who still have time to feed the trolls. These guys don't intend to stop, so I don't know why on earth you still try to reason with them. What keeps them going is the annoyance they elicit out of us.

      gerhardmcsa - 2012-10-21 20:18

      That's why so few people comment. These spaces are 80% troll inhabited. So sad, comparing sport24 article's comments with say greenandgoldrugby's.

      TravieGrif - 2012-10-21 20:48

      Sadly you are very right.

      lean.sadie - 2012-10-22 03:14

      No point to comment on here at all, it's like talking to a wall, with these trolls and their copy and pasting.

      macziekpk - 2012-10-22 07:05

      SO why are you still commenting this far down the page lean on me ?

  • theo.dupreez - 2012-10-22 11:31

    I am deliriously happy that WP is in the final and winning it will be a major bonus! Also, the WP (and Stormers for that matter) just plays better being the underdogs. Who can forget them beating the Bulls at Loftus with a combination of 2nd and 3rd choice players? They are also one of the best "away" teams in the country, as our successes in NZ and Oz will attest to in recent years. The final just might be closer than most people thinks :-)

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