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The Currie Cup final is always deadly serious business. But Cape Times rugby writer Ashfak Mohamed takes a playful look at what Saturday’s final between Western Province and the Sharks may have in store for us.
WHO IS LIKELY TO:
Score the first try: JP Pietersen. The Springbok superstar was in superb form in 2012, before he got injured and missed the Rugby Championship. He has the knack of popping up in the right places at the right time, and is difficult to stop close to the tryline due to his size. Bryan Habana is a close second, as he was brilliant for the Springboks in the Rugby Championship.
Land the first punch: Anton Bresler. WP loose forward Jebb Sinclair was a prime candidate after his “Haye-maker” punch on Jean Deysel in the league game in Durban, but the Canadian is playing off the bench, and would’ve learnt his lesson by now. Bresler is a fiery player who gets under the skin of the opposition, but he will come up against a few streetwise opponents this time in the shape of Duane Vermeulen, Deon Fourie and Eben Etzebeth, who could just light his fuse.
Drop the ball the most: Meyer Bosman. They say he hasn’t had a bad Currie Cup for a change, but we all know that when the going gets tough, Bosman folds. Expect several knock-ons, and passes into touch, even if he comes off the bench only in the second half.
Get sent off first: Tendai Mtawarira. Remember that silly body check from Beast on Kurtley Beale during the Rugby Championship game in Perth? Well, if Gio Aplon comes into the line and chips the ball over the top, look out for Mtawarira to come into the picture and block the WP flyer.
Bag the crucial turnover: Duane Vermeulen. Deon Fourie has been outstanding on the ground for Province, but the Springbok No 8 Vermeulen is also a big factor at the breakdowns. He showed his class in creating turnovers for the Boks on their overseas tour, and continued in that fashion for Province against the Cheetahs. Referee Marius Jonker’s interpretations (or lack of it) at the rucks in the semi-final made it difficult for WP to steal ball, but Jaco Peyper will be spot-on in the final.
Steal the big lineout ball: Don Armand. Armand has moved from being a hard-working Varsity Cup player for UCT into a key part of the Province pack this year. He does all the dirty work that allows the likes of Eben Etzebeth, Scarra Ntubeni and Duane Vermeulen to run with the ball. But Armand has also proven to be a valuable lineout jumper, whether it’s in the front or at the back. The Sharks would most likely try to avoid throwing near Etzebeth or Vermeulen in the lineout, and that will provide Armand with the chance to nick a throw.
Sport the best hairstyle: Pat Lambie. Those curls are all natural, and so his style of play. Lambie is cool in his decision-making, execution and, when he speaks off the field, and it is all showcased in that perfect hairdo. But Province fans will be hoping that someone like Vermeulen will be able to spoil Lambie’s hair!
Wear the flashiest boots: Gio Aplon. Those bright orange boots with the neon green laces are not everybody’s cup of tea, but when Aplon is in full flight, it is like a meteor that whizzes past a defender. The only problem is that the Sharks will be able to spot Aplon a mile away due to the colourful footwear.
Give away the most penalties: Jannie du Plessis. Although the Sharks tighthead prop has improved significantly with his scrummaging this year, he is a serial offender – in not only the scrums, but also general play. He sometimes is the “lazy runner” who lags offside, or puts his hands into the ruck.
Make the biggest fool of himself: Sharks mascot Sharky. He is irritating beyond belief along the touchline!
Need a new shorts: Eben Etzebeth. After his cheeky display during that memorable 20-metre lineout drive at the end of the semi-final against the Lions, Etzebeth may have to tighten his shorts a bit if he doesn’t want to expose himself in the final.
Put in the hardest tackle: Louis Ludik. He was just an average player at the Lions, but since moving to Durban, the fullback’s career has blossomed. He made his name as a lethal defender in Super Rugby this year, when he nailed Reds and Wallaby wing Digby Ioane in a one-on-one situation. He is terrific under the high ball – on attack and defence – while he has also improved his attacking play, hitting the line hard.
Have the best dance moves: Juan de Jongh. If his performance of Psy’s Gangnam Style at the WP Awards last week is anything to go by, then be sure to pick up some moves from the Springbok outside centre. De Jongh is in top shape, and his line-break against the Lions to set up a penalty in front of the posts was breathtaking.
Kick the winning penalty: Louis Schreuder. He showed that he is not a bad flyhalf at all in the semi-final, but we know that he is also a highly capable goal-kicker. Although Demetri Catrakilis is the first-choice kicker and Joe Pietersen the back-up, Schreuder used to kick for goal when he was captain and sometimes flyhalf of the WP Under-21 side a few years ago. He seems to have the golden touch at the moment, and perhaps that will secure Province the golden trophy.
Be covered in glory: The Sharks flasher girls! Whoever wins or loses the game, nothing beats the pre-match entertainment in Durban ...