Currie Cup

WP aim to banish final ghosts

2014-10-23 05:00
Allister Coetzee (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - In search of their first victory in a home final at Newlands since 2001, Western Province will have to tame a rampant Golden Lions side on Saturday.

Both sides endured huge gaps in between their respective trophy successes.

Province arrested an 11-year drought when they beat the Sharks in Durban in 2012, to claim their 32nd Currie Cup title.

While the Lions brought a 12-year wait to an end when they beat the KwaZulu-Natal side in Johannesburg in 2011 to win the coveted golden cup for the 10th time.

Here are five points on the 2014 Currie Cup Final:

First Province-Lions final in 28 years:

Two of the countries most prominent provincial rugby teams have had few encounters against each other when it comes to finals.

They went through the 90s and the 2000s without ever meeting to contest a title.

The last time they met in a Currie Cup final dates back nearly three decades to 1986 when Province hosted the then-Transvaal at Newlands.

Province beat the visiting side 22-9 for their fifth consecutive Currie Cup title.

They had only faced each other in four previous finals, playing the first ever Currie Cup final back in 1939 when the Lions walked away with the spoils (17-6).

Their record was equal, having each won two of the four encounters.

Ackermann hoping for third time lucky:

Golden Lions coach Johan Ackermann has enjoyed relative success with the Johannesburg side after winning the trophy as assistant coach to the franchise's former mentor John Mitchell in 2011.

Ackermann came painstakingly close to contesting the title as head coach when he took over the reins a year later. The side narrowly lost 16-21 to Western Province, the eventual champions, in the semi-final thanks to a converted try by Deon Fourie at the death at Ellis Park.

The self-same Province side again dashed Ackermann's dreams of coaching the team to the final last year, this time with a comprehensive 33-16 victory in Cape Town.

Ghosts of home finals past:

Western Province may have ended their decade long dry spell two years ago but the Capetonians have not won a final on home soil since 2001.

Last year, the coastal side went unbeaten during the round-robin stage of the competition only to be defeated by the Sharks in the grand finale despite having home-ground advantage.

The Golden Lions won their first Currie Cup trophy on home soil in 1950. After sharing the spoils in with Northern Transvaal in 1971, they had to wait until 2011 to win in front of their home fans, accomplishing a 42-16 victory over the Sharks.

Reckless abandon:

Western Province have abandoned their defence-minded game plan in recent years for a more balanced and exciting brand of rugby, while the Golden Lions have added some structure to their expansive style.

Both sides have dazzled with the ball in hand this season, with the Golden Lions scoring the most tries -- 44 -- and Western Province the second highest, with 40, at the end of the round-robin phase.

It was the use of their exciting backs which caused the most damage to their opposition during their campaigns.

Western Province had fleet-footed and fast-paced players such Seabelo Senatla, Cheslin Kolbe, Juan de Jongh and Kobus van Wyk striking fear in the opposing defence.

The Golden Lions in turn had Howard Mnisi, Courtnall Skosan and Ruan Combrinck at their disposal.

It was, however, the Lions' use of mobile loose-forwards Jaco Kriel, Warren Whiteley, Willie Britz and Derick Minnie, and the way they linked with the backline, that made all the difference.

While Ackermann proclaimed his side would not shelve its expansive style which had paid such rich dividends so far, Province's Allister Coetzee could opt for a more conservative approach.

If both sides stick to the enterprising, running rugby they have dished up throughout the season, a mouth-watering Currie Cup final can be expected.

The man in the middle:

Considered one of South Africa's and the world's best referees, it is surprising Craig Joubert will be taking charge in only his second Currie Cup Final.

His first final was in 2010 when the Sharks beat Western Province 30-10 in Durban.

Joubert, who has refereed three Super Rugby finals and 52 Tests, officiated in his first Currie Cup match in 2003 in Kimberley.

That same year, he refereed his first international between the US and Wales in Connecticut.

He has since added a number of high-profile matches to his bow, including the 2011 Rugby World Cup Final between the All Blacks and France.

Earlier this year, Joubert was appointed to referee the Super Rugby final between the Waratahs and the Crusaders in Sydney.

His first final at that level was in 2010 in Soweto between the Bulls and the Stormers and went on to referee the Super Rugby final in Hamilton in 2013, between the Chiefs and the Brumbies.


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