PREVIEW: Western Province v Sharks
CURRIE CUP FINAL: The Currie Cup will reach a thrilling conclusion in Cape Town on Saturday when the unbeaten Western Province will set their sights on a fairy-tale finish to the season against a Sharks side determined to avenge defeat in last year’s Final.
The match marks the ninth time the sides battle it out for the title since 1984.
Western Province, who will be hunting back-to-back titles, will enter the match on a seven-match winning streak, although their 100-minute extravaganza in the semifinal against the Blue Bulls will undoubtedly serve as a stark reminder that anything can happen in finals rugby.
We head into a massive clash this Saturday…
A ‘hall of fame’ of greats has worn the black and white jersey for #OurSharks over the decades.
They stand together behind our boys as they prepare to join this legacy of legends in the upcoming Currie Cup final!#OurSharksForever pic.twitter.com/rKDs7bUFxC
— The Sharks (@TheSharksZA) October 25, 2018
The Sharks, meanwhile, have suffered only one defeat this season, and that was a 28-50 loss against Western Province in the Mother City.
This, combined with the fresh memories of their home defeat in last year’s Currie Cup Final, in which they allowed a 15-21 half-time lead to slip out of their hands, will fuel the Durbanites’ determination to topple the hosts this weekend.
The teams have met in three Currie Cup finals at Newlands since 1984, and the hosts won two of those, although they went down 19-33 in the last one in 2013.
The Capetonians have been superior on attack and defence this season, but only marginally, with 40 tries scored and 145 points conceded to 32 tries scored and 157 points conceded by the Sharks, which will set the scene for an entertaining clash.
The Springbok duo of Sikhumbuzo Notshe (No.8) and Jano Vermaak (scrumhalf) will both return from injury for the final and will start the match for WP.
The only other change sees Josh Stander come into the starting XV at flyhalf, with Damian Willemse shifting to inside centre. Dan Kriel will join Herschel Jantjies on the bench, while Juarno Augustus and Paul de Wet drop out of the matchday 23.
The Sharks team show just two changes to the team that defeated the Golden Lions last week. Tyler Paul shifts into Jacques Vermeulen’s position on the side of the scum, allowing an opening for Jean-Luc du Preez to gain his first start for the Sharks in this year’s competition. In the other change, Aphelele Fassi replaces Lwazi Mvovo, who was concussed in last week’s match.
The battle between the place-kickers, Western Province wing SP Marais, and Sharks flyhalf Robert du Preez, is expected to be decisive. Marais is the top points’ scorer in the competition with 121 points, which includes 15 penalty goals and 28 conversions, but Du Preez has also been effective with the boot kicking six penalty goals and 20 conversions for a total of 58 points.
From the eight previous finals between these two coastal giants, WP have won five (1984, 2000, 2001, 2012 and 2017), while the Sharks have been victorious three times (1995, 2010 and 2013).
— WP RUGBY (@WP_RUGBY) October 23, 2018
Western Province head coach John Dobson is expecting a physical onslaught from the Sharks on Saturday.
“They are very much a momentum team and if we don’t stand up to their carries they will get the offloads away,” said Dobson.
“We were so poor with ball in contact last week and they will probably try and choke us, hold us up or strip us, so we have to be a bit better with our carries.
“Their maul is also good.”
Meanwhile, Sharks star Jean-Luc du Preez is expecting a strong challenge up front in the Final.
“The focus is on us right now, not on Western Province, although we know it’s going to be a huge clash.
“They have a massive pack, we have a big pack too, so it’s the old cliché again: it will all be won up front.
“It will be huge. If all eight and the forwards off the bench all put up our hands, it will be good,” said Du Preez.
2018: Western Province won 50-28
2017: Western Province won 33-21, Durban (Final)
2017: Western Province won 31-20, Durban
2017: Sharks won 21-20, Cape Town
2016: Western Province won 34-27, Cape Town
Prediction: Western Province are the favourites. They are unbeaten and playing at home. However, finals rugby is a different ball game and the history between the two teams in Finals is a strange one with the away team winning the trophy on a number of occasions. The Sharks will take this one by five points
Western Province: 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Damian Willemse, 11 SP Marais, 10 Josh Stander, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Kobus van Dyk, 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Chris van Zyl (captain), 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ali Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Michael Kumbirai, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Jaco Coetzee, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Dan Kriel, 23 JJ Engelbrecht.
Sharks: 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Sibusiso Nkosi, 13 Jeremy Ward, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Aphelele Fassi, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder (captain), 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Tyler Paul, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Gideon Koegelenberg, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Juan Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Jacques Vermeulen, 20 Luke Stringer, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Kobus van Wyk, 23 Leolin Zas.
Date: Saturday, October 27
Venue: Newlands Stadium, Cape Town
Kick-off: 16.00 (14.00 GMT)
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs, Cwengile Jadezweni
TMO: Shaun Veldsman
We caught up with #OurSharks rampaging flank, Jean-Luc du Preez, ahead of @TheCurrieCup Final against DHL @WP_RUGBY this weekend. He let us in on how the @CellC Sharks are looking forward to delivering a full 80-minute performance this Saturday!💪💦🏃#WPvSHA #OurSharksForever pic.twitter.com/B71LrbLTX0
— The Sharks (@TheSharksZA) October 24, 2018