It is a blustery day in Durban and there is rain around which could tighten up the game considerably and turn the kicking game into something of a crapshoot.
Steeped in tradition, the Currie Cup has a proud history. In recent times, the Sharks have been prolific winners, having taken the title seven times since that historic 18-12 win over Northern Transvaal (now the Blue Bulls) in 1990. Interestingly, the Bulls have also won the title seven times since that year, sharing it once with Free State. Western Province with six and the Lions with five trail behind. Free State, with three titles (one shared) are the fifth team to have won titles over the last 27 years.
Since the inaugural Currie Cup season in 1892, seven teams have won the competition, with the Sharks taking the title seven times, the most recent, a 2013 victory over Western Province in Cape Town.
Sharks: 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Sibusiso Nkosi, 13 Jeremy Ward, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder (captain), 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Jacques Vermeulen, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Gideon Koegelenberg, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Armand van der Merwe, 1 Juan Schoeman. Replacements: 16 Mahlatse Ralepelle, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Luke Stringer, 20 Jean-Luc du Preez, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Leolin Zas, 23 Aphelele Fassi.
Thomas du Toit and Daniel du Preez have returned to the Sharks? starting lineup for the Currie Cup semi-final against the Golden Lions. Head coach Robert du Preez has stuck largely with the side he named last week. After being named to start against Griquas but then pulling out late, Du Toit and Du Preez return in the tighthead prop and eighthman positions respectively. Marius Louw is back at inside centre and Robert du Preez returns to the fly-half position, with Curwin Bosch reverting back to full-back.
Golden Lions: 15 Sylvian Mahuza, 14 Courtnall Skosan? 13 Lionel Mapoe? 12 Howard Mnisi? 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Elton Jantjies? 9 Nic Groom (c), 8 Warren Whiteley? 7 Pikkie de Villiers? 6 James Venter, 5 Marvin Orie? 4 Rhyno Herbst, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse? 2 Pieter Jansen? 1 Sti Sithole Replacements: 16 Tiaan van der Merwe? 17 Danie Mienie? 18 Chergin Fillies? 19 Vincent Tshituka? 20 Hacjivah Dayimani, 21 Dillon Smit? 22 Shaun Reynolds? 23 Wandisile Simelane
Warren Whiteley and Aphiwe Dyantyi return for the Golden Lions when they take on the Sharks. Fellow Springboks Malcolm Marx and Franco Mostert are still being rested. Whiteley won?t captain the side as scrum-half Nic Groom retains the armband. Whiteley?s return sees Hajcivah Dayimani drop to the bench, but he is sure to make an impact later in the game with his pace. Hooker Corne Fourie, however, is unavailable.
Welcome to our coverage of the Currie Cup Premier Division semi-final between the Sharks and the Lions from Kings Park in Durban.
The Lions carry back over the halfway line after a box kick from the Sharks.
Jantjies kicks off deep for the Lions and the Sharks gather just outside their 22.
Great counterruck from the Sharks who then kick ahead but the ball rolls into touch in the Lions 22. The Lions have the lineout under pressure on their own five metre line.
TRY, SHARKS, DANIEL DU PREEZ! 5-0: The Sharks scrum is solid and Mvovo hits it at pace getting close before offloading to Dan du Preez who just needs to do down!
The lineout feed is not straight and the Sharks have a big scrum five from the Lion's try-line.
CONVERSION, SHARKS, ROBERT DU PREEZ, 7-0: Robert du Preez adds the two from the tee.
The Sharks exit well after the restart but the Lions have the lineout feed fifteen inside the home side's half. They make an elementary error in the maul though and the Sharks are awarded the scrum.
Some slick Sharks interplay sees them move towards halfway before they are repelled by the Liuons and Schreuder opts to kick into space and finds touch on the Lions 22. Lions feed at the lineout.
Mapoe reads the play well but he does so from an offside position and the Sharks knock the penalty into touch just inside the Lions 22. The Shraks have an attacking lineout.
Daniel du Preez is nearly in again but he can't hold the offload from van der Merwe who burst away from the base of the maul. The Lions have a scrum five out from their own line.
The Lions exit their 22 after a good carry but the Sharks bring it right back and soon have the Lions under pressure on their own 22.
PENALTY, SHARKS, ROBERT DU PREEZ. 10-0: The Lions are offside straight in front and the Sharks gratefully accept the three points.
A scrappy Sharks counter somehow works out and the home side burst into the Lions 22 but then they knock on in the strike zone and the Lions clear to ten from halfway. Sharks lineout just inside the Lions half.
The Lions make hard yards but then knock on and the game become scrappy. Mvovo calms things down after a kick from Jantjies and knocks it into touch just inside the Sharks half. Lions lineout feed.
The Lions have the ball on halfway but they are struggling to get over the gainline and their attack ends with the ball being knocked on into touch just inside the Lions half. The Sharks opt to take the lineout.
The Sharks knock-on in the maul and the Lions have the scrum five inside their own half.
TRY, SHARKS, NKOSI! 15-0: A real team try from the Sharks which Nkosi rounds off in the corner. The Sharks irresistible in attack.
The Sharks are far more fluent in attack and when they get the pill back they immediately find their way back into the Lions 22.
A gust of wind blows Robert du Preez's kick off course, unlucky but the Sharks lead by fifteen.
The Lions make good progress in attack but then knock on in contact under very little pressure. Sharks scrum on their own 22.
The scrum goes up and has to be reset. Critical moment for both sides now with the Sharks looking to exit and maintain their advantage while the Lions need to score to get back into the contest. The scrum goes down again and will be reset once more.
The Sharks win advantage from the scrum and then an early tackle on a Sharks player but can't take it as Mvovo goes into contact and loses it. He looks hurt though and play will be stopped as he is attended to, he will need a concussion test at least with some concern regarding the head and neck area.
Fassi has come on to replace Mvovo and the Sharks set up a lineout ten inside the Lions half.
Some lazy defending affords the Sharks an offside penalty and they set up a lineout five from the Lions line. Sharks feed.
The Sharks squander another attacking opportunity as they knock on on the Lions 22. The Lions will take heart if they go into the break 15 or less points behind.
The Lions steal but Groom's kick skews into touch just fifteen metres from the Lions line.
PENALTY, SHARKS, ROBERT DU PREEZ. 18-0: The Sharks don't want to risk another lineout and they kick for goal after winning a penalty from the Lion's scrum.
The Lions are awarded a penalty for a deliberate knock on just after the restart and they set up a lineout ten out from the Sharks line.
PENALTY, GOLDEN LIONS, JANTJIES. 18-3: The Lions maul is stopped before a big tackle from Ward drives the Lions back. The Sharks infringe at the breakdown though and the Lions want to kick the goal to get on the board.
The Lions find themselves under pressure after the restart as they look to swing it wide in their own 22. Jantjies eventually finds a good touch ten from halfway. The Sharks will feed.
The Lions are uninspired in attack and the Sharks turn it over on halfway but then they knock on as well. The Lions can't take advantage and will feed a scrum ten from halfway.
The referee is not happy with the Lion's front-row's bind and resets the scrum.
HALF-TIME: SHARKS 18-3 GOLDEN LIONS: The Sharks win the penalty at the breakdown as they once again put pressure on the Lion's with strong defense. It's a long kick which Curwin Bosch will attempt. He misses the kick but that will end the half.
Louw gets in the way of Lion's grubber and deflects it into touch five from halfway in the Lion's half.
TRY, SHARKS, NKOSI! 23-3: The Sharks gather the restart and cut through a disorganized Lions defense and Nkosi will score! What a start to the second half.
Bosch restarts for the Sharks and the Lions let it bounce!
The kick goes wide and the Sharks will head back to halfway with a twenty point lead.
The Sharks exit their 22 after the restart and the Lions have the lineout feed ten inside the Sharks half. Ralepelle knocks on in his first involvement in the game and the Lions have the scrum ten inside the Sharks half.
The referee has a word about pre-engaging and resets the scrum.
The Lions absorb the pressure from the Sharks scrum but then kick the ball dead gifting the Sharks a scrum ten from halfway.
The Sharks have gone a little flat on attack and the Lions turn it over before knocking on ten inside the Sharks half. Sharks scrum.
The Lions watch Shark's prop Du Toit depart but they have little respite with the massive Oosthuizen taking his place.
The scrum goes up and the referee isn't sure who infringed so he resets it. Sharks feed.
The Lions are struggling to exit their 22 after a charged down kick.
The Lions finally get some forward momentum after a turn-over but the Sharks steal it back and pin the Lions in their 22 again.
The referee checks for obstruction on a kick return from the Sharks, Bosch steps out on the Lions 22. Replays are inconclusive but a penalty is awarded to the Lions. The Lions knock it out fifteen inside the Sharks half.
Koegelenberg spoils but knocks it into touch on the same spot and the Lions will try again.
TRY, GOLDEN LIONS, GROOM! 23-8: Mapoe cuts through the Sharks from 35 metres out and pops an offload to nobody but Groom picks up and goes over!
CONVERSION, GOLDEN LIONS, JANTJIES. 23-10: Jantjies adds the two.
The Sharks make a dreadful error as a loose pass flies into touch five inside the Lions half. Lions lineout feed.
The Lions are once again pinned in their 22 the Sharks lose the ball five from the line after a knock-on nearly sees Fassi in. The Lions eventually graft out of their 22 but a loose pass gifts the Sharks a scrum 25 metres from the Lions line.
The scrum needs to be reset with new personnel on the field.
The Sharks attack down the blindside but run out of space and the Lions have the lineout feed fifteen from their own goal-line.
TRY, GOLDEN LIONS, SKOSAN! 23-15: A wild throw to Skosan sets him away after some fractured play. Dyantyi had intercepted after a great counter from Ward had the Sharks on the Lions line, he was hauled in by Fassi but the Sharks couldn't settle it down and a wild pass cost them the try.
CONVERSION, GOLDEN LIONS, JANTJIES! 23-17: The Lions make it a six point game with the conversion.
PENALTY, SHARKS, ROBERT DU PREEZ. 26-17: The Sharks throw everything at the Lions who somehow hold on but do so illegally, the Sharks will look to take the game back out beyond one score from the tee. Robert du Preez slots it!
The Sharks are now struggling to get out of the 22 but Wright eventually puts it out ten from halfway in the Sharks half.
CONVERSION, GOLDEN LIONS, JANTJIES. 26-24: The Lions close the gap to just two points with the conversion, we are in for some finish at Kings Park.
TRY, GOLDEN LIONS, SKOSAN! 26-22: Jantjies spots Skosan in space and finds him with a cross kick and the wing will finish it off.
The Lions exit well after the restart, and the Sharks have the lineout just inside the Lions half.
The Lions win it from the Sharks in broken play on their own 22 but then throw a forward pass. The Sharks have the scrum on the Lions 22.
The Sharks win the scrum-time penalty and reject to kick at goal, they set up a lineout five out.
It is a loose throw-in to the lineout but the Lions knock on in the bunfight. Sharks scrum five out.
TRY, SHARKS, DANIEL DU PREEZ! 31-24: The Sharks power game makes the difference and the try is scored with a critical kick to come.
CONVERSION, SHARKS, ROBERT DU PREEZ, 33-24: Robert Du Preez restores a nine point cushion for the Sharks.
The Lions are coming hard at the Sharks but it has been turned over! Robert du Preez's kick skews into touch 30 metres from the Sharks line but it eats up more time.
Huge moment at the lineout as the ball flies free onto the Sharks side where Wright dives on the ball before a Lions forward drops on him conceding the penalty, that could do it. The Sharks set up a lineout ten from halfway.
The Sharks win the lineout and hold onto the ball for dear life.
FULL-TIME: SHARKS 33-24 GOLDEN LIONS: The Sharks grind down the clock and then hoof it out to book their place in the final.
Golden Lions
3' Daniel du Preez
21' Sibusiso Nkosi
41' Sibusiso Nkosi
75' Daniel du Preez
55' Nic Groom
63' Courtnall Skosan
69' Courtnall Skosan
3' Robert du Preez
76' Robert du Preez
55' Elton Jantjies
65' Elton Jantjies
70' Elton Jantjies
12' Robert du Preez
32' Robert du Preez
67' Robert du Preez
35' Elton Jantjies
Drop Goals
Yellow Cards
Red Cards
Juan Schoeman
Armand van der Merwe
Thomas du Toit
Gideon Koegelenberg
Hyron Andrews
Jacques Vermeulen
Tyler Paul
Daniel du Preez
Louis Schreuder
Robert du Preez
Lwazi Mvovo
Marius Louw
Jeremy Ward
Sibusiso Nkosi
Curwin Bosch
Sti Sithole
Pieter Jansen
Jacobie Adriaanse
Rhyno Herbst
Marvin Orie
James Venter
Jo Hanko de Villiers
Warren Whiteley
Nic Groom
Elton Jantjies
Aphiwe Dyantyi
Howard Mnisi
Lionel Mapoe
Courtnall Skosan
Sylvian Mahuza
Chiliboy Ralepelle
Mzamo Majola
Coenie Oosthuizen
Luke Stringer
Jean-Luc du Preez
Cameron Wright
Leolin Zas
Aphelele Fassi
Tiaan van der Merwe
Danie Mienie
Chergin Fielies
Vincent Tshituka
Hacjivah Dayimani
Dillon Smit
Shaun Reynolds
Wandile Simelane