Banana Boy finals XV
OPINION: The Sharks, the pace-setting team in the now-suspended SANZAAR showpiece, must rate as the most successful team never to have won Super Rugby.
They have played in five finals – four in the professional era and once in the Super 10 (amateur era).
They have also reached the semifinals four times and the preliminary play-offs (or quarterfinals) another five times.
We have decided to look at the five finals and select the best XV from that.
We will list, for your benefit, all the teams from each Final, so you can tell us who you feel is more worthy!
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15 – André Joubert
The Rolls Royce of fullbacks was a rock on defence and a smooth attacker, with some sublime skills. He just edge out two great rivals – Percy Montgomery and Patrick Lambie. Back-up: Patrick Lambie
14 – James Small
The late World Cup winner was the ultimate competitor and never gave an inch. This was an easy selection. Back-up: Louis Ludik
13 – Pieter Müller
The powerful midfielder was best known for his strength and direct running. Competition was limited. Back-up: Jeremy Thomson
12 – Brad Barritt
The lack of opportunities in South Africa saw the former Baby Bok move to England, where he was capped multiple times and also called up by the British and Irish Lions. A stalwart at Saracens with well over 200 caps for the now relegated former European and Premiership champions. Back-up: Dick Muir
11 – Stefan Terblanche
An accomplished finisher that scored 19 tries in 37 tests for South Africa, including a South African test record of four tries (equalled with Chester Williams and Pieter Rossouw). Back-up: JP Pietersen
10 – Henry Honiball
Die Lem could cut them like few flyhalves ever did and his monster hits on defence are stuff of legends. Back-up: Andre James
9 – Ruan Pienaar
At his best one of the best scrumhalves in the game – able to play on both the firm surfaces in South Africa and the slow, muddy grounds of Europe. Back-up: Robert du Preez
8 – Gary Teichmann (captain)
Not just a natural leader, but a very accomplished No.8 that has a proven track record at both domestic and international level. Back-up: Ryan Kankowski
7 – Albertus Venter
Better known as AJ, he is the ideal blindside flank in true South African mould – can feature at lock as well (and has at international level) and has a huge engine on him. Back-up: Wahl Bartmann
6 – Marcell Coetzee
Often played in the No.7 jersey, but is actually an openside flank in style and skill. If injuries stay away, he could still have a lengthy international future ahead of him. Back-up: Jacques Botes
5 – Johann Muller
A real stalwart that would have played in many more than just 24 Tests if he didn’t play in the Victor Matfield era. Back-up: Albert van den Berg
4 – Mark Andrews
His amazing workrate and skill saw him play at No.8 in the 1995 World Cup Final. However, it is as a second row forward where he was at his most devastating best. Back-up: Johan Ackermann
3 – Jannie du Plessis
His current form may not suggest it, but was once one of the most powerful tighthead props in the world. Back-up: Ollie le Roux
2 – Bismarck du Plessis
His record speaks for itself and he is still tearing it up on the European circuit. Back-up: John Smit
1 – Tendai Mtawarira
Was there ever any doubt? Back-up: Deon Carstens
The five big finals
Natal got to the Final with four free points – when New South Wales decided Durban was too dangerous a place and refused to travel there, shades of Wales and Scotland in 1973 when they refused to go to Ireland.
Queensland 21 Natal 10, at Kings Park on May 14
Tries: Lea, Scott-Young
Pens: Lynagh 2
Try: Van der Westhuizen
Natal: André Joubert, Cabous van der Westhuizen, Pieter Müller, replaced by Andy Marinos, Jeremy Thomson, replaced by Shaun Payne, James Small, Henry Honiball, Robert du Preez, Gary Teichmann, Andrew Blakeway, Wahl Bartmann (captain), Steve Atherton, John Slade, Adrian Garvey, John Allan, Guy Kebble.
Queensland: Matthew Pini, Damian Smith, Jason Little, replaced by Paul Carozza, Tim Horan, replaced by Anthony Herbert, Barry Lea, Michael Lynagh, Peter Slattery (captain), Sam Scott-Young, Ilie Tabua, replaced by John Eales, David Wilson, Rod McCall, Garrick Morgan, Adrian Skeggs, Michael Foley, Cameron Lillicrap.
Referee: Glen Wahlstrom
Auckland 45 Natal 21, at Eden Park on May 25
Natal had a great win over Queensland in the semifinal in Brisbane and flew over to Auckland with high hopes.
Jonah Lomu soon brought them bumping down to earth, and in no time Auckland were ahead 20-3. Back came Natal to 20-16, but Auckland then made the game safe.
Tries: Blowers 2, Lomu, Spencer, Clarke, Reichelmann
Cons: Cashmore 3
Pens: Cashmore 3
Tries: Joubert, Small
Pens: Honiball 3
Auckland: Adrian Cashmore, Jonah Lomu, Johnny Ngauamo, Eroni Clarke, Joeli Vidiri, Carlos Spencer, Ofisa Tonu’u, Zinzan Brooke (captain), Michael Jones, Andrew Blowers, Charles Reichelmann, Robin Brooke, Craig Dowd, Sean Fitzpatrick, Olo Brown.
Natal: Andre Joubert, James Small, Jeremy Thomson, Dick Muir, Cabous van der Westhuizen, Henry Honiball, Kevin Putt, Gary Teichmann (captain),Wayne Fyvie, Wickus van Heerden, Stephen Atherton, Mark Andrews, Ollie le Roux, John Allan, Adrian Garvey.
Referee: Wayne Erickson (Australia)
Brumbies 36 Sharks 6, at Bruce Stadium on May 19
The Sharks had beaten the Brumbies in the home matches, but were well beaten in the second half of the Final.
After missing six kicks at goal in the first half, the Sharks were still level at 6-all at half-time. The Brumbies galloped away with the second half.
Tries: Roff 2, Giffin
Cons: Walker 3
Pens: Walker 5
Pens: James 2
Brumbies: Andrew Walker, Joe Roff, James Holbeck, Rod Kafer, Graeme Bond, Steve Larkham, George Gregan (captain), Jim Williams, George Smith, Peter Ryan, Justin Harrison, David Giffin, Ben Darwin, Jeremy Paul, Bill Young.
Sharks: Ricardo Loubscher, Justin Swart, Trevor Halstead, Deon Kayser, Stefan Terblanche, Butch James, Craig Davidson, AJ Venter, Charl van Rensburg, Warren Britz, Albert van den Berg, Mark Andrews (captain), Ollie le Roux, John Smit, Etienne Fynn.
Referee: Paddy O’Brien (New Zealand)
Bulls 20 Sharks 19, at Kings Park on May 19
History was made. There were two South African teams in the Final.
The finish to the match was agonising. The Sharks led for 82 minutes, but in the 83rd minute, Bryan Habana, shoulders hunched, went swerving, speeding, inside Bob Skinstad and past Tendai Mtawarira to dive over for the try that put his team within a point of victory. Derick Hougaard kicked the easy conversion and at last the final whistle sounded.
For the Sharks:
Tries: Pietersen, Van den Berg
Pens: Montgomery 3
For the Bulls:
Tries: Spies, Habana
Cons: Hougaard 2
Pens: Hougaard 2
Sharks: 15 Percy Montgomery, 14 Francois Steyn, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Butch James, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 AJ Venter, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Johann Muller, 4 Johan Ackermann, 3 BJ Botha, 2 John Smit (captain), 1 Deon Carstens.
Replacements: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Albert van den Berg, 19 Warren Britz, 20 Bob Skinstad, 21 Rory Kockott, 22 Adrian Jacobs.
Bulls: 15 Johan Roets, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JP Nel, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Derick Hougaard, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Wikus van Heerden, 6 Pedrie Wannenburg, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Rayno Gerber, 2 Gary Botha, 1 Gurthrö Steenkamp.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Engels, 17 Danie Thiart, 18 Danie Rossouw, 19 Derick Kuün, 20 Heinie Adams, 21 Morné Steyn, 22 Jaco van der Westhuyzen.
Referee: Steve Walsh (New Zealand)
Chiefs 37 Sharks 6, in Hamilton on August 4
The Chiefs had qualified second highest during the regular season, while the Sharks qualified as the sixth, and lowest, team.
The Chiefs went straight to the semifinal, where they beat fellow New Zealand team the Crusaders. The Sharks travelled to Brisbane and beat the Reds in the qualifying play-off match and then the Stormers back in South Africa in the semifinal.
In part due to the level of travel the Sharks had to make during the play-off series (travelling from South Africa to Australia, back to South Africa and then on to New Zealand in just three weeks) they entered the grand final as the underdogs.
They started the stronger, however, and scored first points through a penalty. The Chiefs struck back, scoring a converted try and two penalties to lead 13–3 at half-time. They extended the lead in the second half, outscoring the Sharks with three more converted tries and a penalty to just the one penalty for the visitors.
For the Chiefs
Tries: Nanai-Williams, Thompson, Masaga, Williams
Cons: Cruden 4
Pens: Cruden 3
For the Sharks
Pens: Michalak 2
Chiefs: 15 Robbie Robinson, 14 Tim Nanai-Williams, 13 Andrew Horrell, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Kane Thompson, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke (captain), 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Sona Taumalolo.
Replacements: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Ben Afeaki, 18 Michael Fitzgerald, 19 Sam Cane, 20 Brendon Leonard, 21 Jackson Willison, 22 Lelia Masaga.
Sharks: 15 Patrick Lambie, 14 Louis Ludik, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Paul Jordaan, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Frederic Michalak, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Keegan Daniel (captain), 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Steven Sykes, 19 Jacques Botes, 20 Jean Deysel, 21 Meyer Bosman, 22 Riaan Viljoen.
Referee: Steve Walsh Australia
* With additional reporting from Paul Dobson