Cape Town - Sharks coach Robert du Preez lauded his charges for the pressure they put on Western Province in the Currie Cup final at Newlands.
The Sharks overturned a 6-0 half-time deficit to win 17-12, handing WP their first defeat of the competition at the most critical stage.
The Durbanites kept WP tryless throughout and condemned them to a second home defeat to the Sharks in two finals going back to 2013.
“We had a bit of a nervous start in the first half but regained our composure after the half-time break and really played good rugby,” Du Preez told the Sharks’ official website.
WP were uncharacteristically error-ridden in the final, with their lineouts going completely awry and they made plenty of mistakes with ball in hand which hampered the efforts of the team with the best attacking record in the competition.
The pressure that the Sharks put on the home side was similar to the semi-final against the Blue Bulls the previous week when WP had to rely on extra-time to advance.
Du Preez stressed that while individual areas weren’t targeted, the general plan was to put enough pressure on WP for mistakes to creep in.
Du Preez admitted that the disruption in the home side’s momentum from lineouts was a decisive factor in the outcome of the game.
“Lineouts are vital in tight games like this and if you don’t get quality ball from lineouts, you’re always going to struggle.
“I wouldn’t say we went out there to really target them at lineout time, but we knew that if we played a pressure game against them, it would take its toll and that’s what happened,” he said.
Although the Sharks had suffered a 50-28 loss to Western Province in the pool stages, they carried no baggage from that match.
“It’s always sweet to beat a team in their own back yard. Province is a great team and they played some fantastic rugby this season, so credit to them and the way they played.
“Finals are a different beast, you have to take your opportunities and you’ll walk away with the trophy,” Du Preez added.