Sharks book a home Final
The Sharks ensured they will host the 2012 Currie Cup Final, when they beat the Blue Bulls 20-3 in their semifinal in a wet Durban on Saturday.
And having scored the only try of the match, they were full value for the win, even though the margin may not reflect the bravery of the visitors.
There was plenty of rain in the lead-up to the game, making for atrocious and very testing conditions – which contributed largely to the high error count.
However, the Sharks seemed to adapt to the conditions better than the Bulls, who also cost themselves dearly with a string of penalties they conceded.
As their tempers frayed, the Bulls got themselves even more on the wrong side of the referee – to such an extend that Mark Lawrence started penalising them for chirping.
The Sharks dominated the scrums, winning a number of penalties, while the Bulls had an edge in the line-outs.
The defence on both sides were pretty brutal and unyielding, but the Sharks dominated as a result of the almost 80 percent possession they had in the first half.
While the Bulls saw more of the ball after the break, their execution was very poor – which meant they could not build any momentum in the game.
The first 10 minutes were marked by a plethora of high bombs from both teams, although the Sharks appeared better in terms of their execution.
A scrum penalty in the sixth minute, against young Morné Mellett, allowed Patrick Lambie a shot at goal. However, he failed to find the target.
In the 21st minute Lambie had another shot at goal, this time when Jano Vermaak moved over the 15-metre line too early and this time the Sharks pivot was on target – 3-0.
Bulls prop Morné Mellett, who had a nightmare in the scrums till then and was penalised on a number of occasions, were yellow carded in the 29th minute after he tripped Lambie – who was chasing a kick ahead.
Lambie rubbed salt into the wounds when he slotted the penalty for a 6-0 lead. That became 9-0 a few minutes later, when Francois Venter was penalised at the tackle.
The Sharks failed to add further during the first half, but they were good value for their 9-point lead at half-time.
Lambie continued to make the Bulls pay for their poor discipline, as he kicked a fourth penalty six minutes into the second half – 12-0.
The tempers became increasingly more frayed, as the final quarter approached, which even resulted in the TMO having to look at possible foul play. Although none was found, the Sharks looked the team most likely to remain in control of their emotions.
Points eventually came the way of the Bulls in the 62nd minute – a Morné Steyn penalty, after the Sharks infringed at the tackle.
However, another scrum penalty, in the 67th minute, allowed Lambie to make it a 12-point game again – 15-3.
The victory was sealed with a well-worked try by wing Lwazi Mvovo in the 74th minute – who slid over the line after the Bulls had turned over yet another ball near their 22 and the Sharks finally made the passes stick. Even though Lambie could not add the conversion, the 20-3 lead was simply too much of a margin for the brave Bulls to make up.
While the Bulls threw everything into a last-ditch attempt to get a consolation try, their execution, combined with the Sharks' ruthless defence, held the visitors out.
Man of the match: There were many brave souls on the park – none more than Dewald Potgieter, who literally put his body on the line and kept battling on till the bitter end. However, Patrick Lambie was the most composed player on the field and what was incredibly testing conditions.
Moment of the match: It has to be the penalty against Juandré Kruger and Francois Hougaard 10 minutes into the second half, who were blow for chirping the referee – it epitomised the increasing frustration of the Bulls with their inability to stamp their authority on the match
Villain of the match: Nobody was more silly that Bulls prop Morné Mellett, who was yellow-carded in the 29th minute for tripping Sharks flyhalf Patrick Lambie.
For the Sharks:
Pens: Lambie 5
For the Blue Bulls:
Yellow card: Morné Mellett (Blue Bulls, 29 – foul play, tripping)
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 Jean Deysel, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Jandré Marais, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Steven Sykes/Peet Marais, 20 Willem Alberts, 21 Charl McLeod, 22 Meyer Bosman.
Blue Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Dewald Potgieter (captain), 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Morné Mellett.
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 CJ Stander, 20 Francois Hougaard, 21 Louis Fouché, 22 Dean Greyling.
Referee: Mark Lawrence
Assistant referees: Jason Jaftha, Christie du Preez
TMO: Shaun Veldsman