It’s the one we have all been waiting for, the 2012 Currie Cup final and what a final it promises to be. The rematch of the 2010 final between the Sharks and Western Province in Durban and both teams are hungry for that hollowed trophy. While both teams are laden with Springboks, the Sharks are strong favourites. But rule out WP at your peril, this young side are desperate to prove they have what it takes to rule nation.
Last week’s results:
Sharks 20 – 3 Blue Bulls
Golden Lions 16 – 21 Western Province
The Sharks have included all their Springboks in the starting team for Saturday’s final. Last week Sharks coach John Plumtree turned some heads by not including all of his Boks in the starting team but rather allowing them to rest after a gruelling Rugby Championship. This decision may well have paid off already as their opposition has lost three of their Springboks to injury over the last two weekends of Currie Cup rugby. The front Springbok front row of the Beast Mtawarira, Craig Burden (uncapped Bok) and Jannie de Plessis return to the starting side with the impressive Kyle Cooper and Wiehahn Herbst dropping to the bench. The second row comprises of Steven Sykes and Anton Bresler with Willem Alberts swapping with Jean Deysel on the flanks. The back line remains the same, however Odwa Ndungane comes onto the bench after recovering from injury.
Western Province has decided to run with rookie Center Damian de Allende at inside centre over Currie Cup vice-captain Marcel Brache who has held the position for most of the season. This is the only change to the starting line-up that beat the Lions with a last gasp try in last weekend’s semi-final. Coach Alistair Coetzee made it clear that de Allende was preferred over Brache in this instance for the physicality that he brings to the table, making this a “horses for courses” decision. Deon Fourie will continue as captain after re-committinbg his future to WP this week and the team comprises of 7 international players (6 Springbok and 1 Canadian) as well as 6 U21 players.
KEY MATCH UPS
There are three must watch matchups this weekend which I believe will determine the result of the game, they are as follows:
Keegan Daniels vs Duane Vermuelen: Daniels will want to prove that he is better than the man who took his place in the Springbok starting side, but Vermuelen will have other plans – starved of trophies and glory Duane will play like a man possessed. Much will be decided by how these two control the break down.
Jannie du Plessis vs Steven Kritschoff: The master vs the rising star, set pieced will play a massive role especially of mother nature does what she has been promising and brings a storm to the Final. If Kritschoff can withstand the pressure WP will have a great base to work from at scrum time.
Cobus Reinach vs Nic Groom: Two of the most exciting young players in the Currie Cup, both hungry to prove that they deserve a place in the Super Rugby squad, but neither have ever played in a match of this magnitude… who will cope with the pressure? We will see of Saturday.
2012: Sharks won 43-27 in Durban
2012: Sharks won 25-23 in Cape Town
2011: Western Province won 15-10 in Durban
2011: Sharks won 21-19 in Cape Town
2010: Sharks won 30-10 in Durban
The Sharks are strong favourites of course, but in a final you just never know. Both teams have had their share of losses in major finals. The Sharks were beaten by the Chiefs in this year’s Super Rugby Final and they lost to the Golden Lions in last year’s Currie Cup Final. Western province have come top of the log (or their abouts) in Super Rugby in the last couple years but have been unable to convert that position into silverware, losing to the Bulls in the 2010 Super Rugby Final and being knocked out at the Semi-Final stage in the last two years (this year by the Sharks). They also lost against the Sharks in the Currie Cup Final back in 2010 and will be looking for revenge.
This will be a close one, the wet weather will help WP stem the attacking flair of the Sharks, but at Kings Park the Sharks have been unstoppable throughout this year. HOWEVER, it seems that 11 years without a trophy has mad WP hungrier than ever and the underdog tag will only help them in the build-up, I think we are in for an upset here! Western Province to win by 3 points.
Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Keegan Daniel (captain), 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Jandre Marais, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Meyer Bosman, 22 Odwa Ndungane.
Western Province – 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Don Armand, 6 Deon Fourie (c), 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Deon Carstens, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 19 Jebb Sinclair, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Marcel Brache, 22 Joe Pietersen.
The Sharks host Western Province in Durban for the Currie Cup Final on Saturday, KO 17:00 CAT (16:00 BST)