WP had luck on their side

2012-10-22 00:00

THE Currie Cup will be decided in Durban on Saturday evening after the Sharks and Western Province followed contrasting weekend paths to reach the final.

The Sharks were ruthless and ultimately comfortable 20-3 victors over the Blue Bulls in the wet at King’s Park on Saturday. At Ellis Park, Province had to score the winning try in the last move of the game to edge the Golden Lions, the holders and hosts, 21-6.

The Sharks controlled the first half as they took advantage of the Bulls’ poor discipline and inaccurate tactical kicking to lead 9-0 at the break.

Referee Mark Lawrence this time punished the Bulls rather than the Sharks for many infringements in the scrums and at the breakdown, with a 6-1 penalty count at half-time.

There was also a yellow card for Bulls prop Morné Mellet, who tripped Pat Lambie as the flyhalf chased his chip-kick into the in-goal area. Had Lawrence waited a moment before blowing for the infringement, he may well have awarded a try (or a penalty try) as wing Lwazi Mvovo dotted down.

The Sharks made nearly all the running in the first half, probing with their backs and dominating possession and territory. But, on a wet pitch, there were too many handling errors by both sides and the Sharks had to be satisfied with three Lambie penalties for their 9-0 half-time advantage.

The Sharks had lineout problems in the second half and the Bulls had far more of the game territorially, but had only one Morné Steyn penalty to show for their efforts. Lambie kicked two more penalties for the Sharks (15-3) and the home team sealed the win when replacement Springboks Willem Alberts and Beast Mtawarira were prominent in a multi-phase movement, which ended in Mvovo squeezing in at the corner (20-3) with seven minutes remaining.

The Bulls attacked hard in the closing minutes, and won four successive penalties, but the resolute Sharks refused to buckle even though the game as a contest was done and dusted. It was a thoroughly controlled team-showing by the Sharks, with a composed Lambie running the show from flyhalf, well supported by fullback Louis Ludik and scrumhalf Cobus Reinach.

Keegan Daniel, Marcell Coetzee and Anton Bresler were prominent in a brave forward effort and the bulky Bulls were never able to take charge. Steyn again played without authority at flyhalf and his high kicks lacked accuracy.

Bulls coach Pine Pienaar and captain Dewald Potgieter blamed the loss on poor discipline.

“I can’t tell whether all the penalties were justified, but we let ourselves down with all the penalties and the yellow card,” said Potgieter. “We did not step up on the day and that was disappointing.”

Pienaar said the Sharks had handled the conditions better.

“They won the territory game and put us under pressure. Their tactical kicking was also better.

“The Sharks finished top and deserve a home final.”

Pienaar said that the Sharks would be favourites to win the final.

“It’s a huge challenge for teams to play in Durban. The Sharks are a tremendous side.”

The Lions will be kicking themselves for their last-gasp defeat at Ellis Park just seconds after they had taken a 16-14 lead with a 78th minute Elton Jantjies penalty.

But the Lions made a hash of the re-start, Jaco Taute failed to clear the ball effectively and Province rolled a maul 17 metres for Duane Vermeulen to score on the final hooter. For long periods, and in spite of Jantjies missing three first-half penalties, it appeared the Lions, lifted by a second-half try by Michael Rhodes, would be travelling to Durban for the final.

But Province will take heart from their late revival, when they took a gamble by replacing flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis with scrumhalf Louis Schreuder. This brought some rhythm to the backline and first replacement fullback Joe Pietersen and then Deon Fourie scored the late tries to snatch the win in a see-sawing final 10 minutes.

WP Allister Coetzee later said the win was one of most satisfying of his coaching career.

“What stood out was the character in the side, the way they stayed connected throughout the game, and the way they never gave up. It was a fantastic win at Ellis Park, my first here in the Currie Cup.”

He said luck had helped his side after a poor first half and the Lions failed to land their kicks and kept WP in the game.

“We got a sniff in the latter stage of the second half, where we found space and we started to attack with width.”

The final will be a replay of the 2010 final when the Sharks, inspired by Lambie, won 30-10 in Durban.

Saturday’s semi-final scorers and scorers

(Home team first):

Sharks 20 (9) – Tries. Lwazi Mvovo. Penalties: Pat Lambie (5). Blue Bulls 3 – Penalties: Morné Steyn.

Lions 16 (3) – Tries: Michael Rhodes. Conversions: Elton Jantjies: Penalties: Ruan Combrinck, Jantjies.

WP 21 (6) – Tries: Joe Pietersen, Deon Fourie. Conversions: Joe Pietersen. Penalties: Demetri Catrakilis (2), Joe Pietersen.

Saturday’s Currie Cup final:

Sharks vs Western Province, King’s Park, 5 pm.

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