Cape Town – If you are a Western Province fan, you will know the only thing worse than seeing your team lose the Currie Cup final at home is waking up the next morning and discovering they STILL lost the game.
But 100% credit and glory to the Sharks. They deserve to take the Kerriekoppie home to Durbs. In fact, if Pat Lambie had not shanked three kicks and Lwazi Mvovo’s score had stood, it could have been a real pasting. As it is, 33-19 is a handsome victory on any day.
The debate on the match will obviously rage on for a good few days. Here, in no particular order, are my five reasons why WP lost. Compare them to yours. Happy arguing!
1. The early intercept
I don’t think you can under-estimate the effect Charl McLeod’s intercept of Louis Schreuder’s wayward pass had on the game.
To be standing behind your posts 10-0 down in a Cup final at home after just seven minutes with the emotion and the pressure is huge. Never mind that it hyped up the Sharks no end. Province hit back almost immediately with Damian de Allende’s try, but they were chasing the game from the get-go. Schreuder’s general judgement was not good. Does he (or Nic Groom) have the game to cut it at Super Rugby level? Just asking.
2. Lineout woes
Scarra Ntubeni had been accurate with his throw-ins during the Currie Cup, but in the final at least six lineouts were stuffed up somewhere between him, De Kock Steenkamp’s calls and the jumpers.
This included two crucial lineouts deep in the Sharks 22 in the first half, one of which came after a penalty was punted into touch to set up a rolling maul.
3. Outplayed and out-kicked at halfback
Charl McLeod and Pat Lambie made brilliant use of the boot, McLeod with his little nudges over the mauls and scrums into space and Lambie with his deep high kicks down the touchline and into the corners, putting huge pressure on the Province back three.
Brendan Venter certainly put one over Allister Coetzee in the strategy battle, and it was disconcerting that Coetzee or his players seemed unable to come up with an answer as the game went on.
4. Sharks Boks stood up
The Sharks certainly won the collisions, but there were periods in the game that the WP pack fought back.
Yet Pieter-Steph du Toit and Willem Alberts had much more of an impact on the game than Eben Etzebeth and Duane Vermeulen. Frans Steyn too was big at the back for the Sharks.
5. Kickoff shambles
Province dropped a couple of kickoffs, let the ball bounce a few times and had to scramble to get it away safely, and conceded two offside penalties from kickoffs. Not the kind of play that will settle the jangling nerves when you are behind on the scoreboard.
*Ian Smit is the sports editor of the Cape Times and a former rugby writer of the paper.
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