DURBAN – A final full of spice. That is what is on the menu for South African rugby fans in Durban today when The Sharks and Western Province square off in the Currie Cup final (4pm kickoff). Here Durban rugby writer Mike Greenaway gives five reasons why the Sharks will win...
1 We have more Du Preezs than you
4-1, not bad. Seriously, watch out for huge games from the twins, Dan and Jean-Luc. The man monsters are two thirds of a well-balanced loose trio (with athletic Keegan Daniel) that is tasked with winning the gain-line battle.
The burly brothers will look to shut down Province at source while providing an impenetrable wall on defence, not to mention initiating momentum with their powerful ball carries.
2 The Bosch factor
Older readers will recall the legendary Gerald Bosch, a star of the victorious series against the All Blacks in 1975. The Sharks boast a Bosch of a more recent vintage and of possibly the same, if not better, ability.
Curwin, despite his tender years, has been a calming influence for the Sharks at flyhalf, running the game smoothly and seldom missing kicks at goal, while his kicking out of hand has been mostly pinpoint. Dare we mention his brilliant drop-goal kicking ability?
3 The Shark Tank
It is true that home ground advantage held little weight three weeks ago when WP won in Durban but there were only about 15 000 diehards at that game. Many were already saving their money for the final, never mind the semi last week!
The 55 000-seater stadium will be close to bursting point today, and the vast majority of patrons will be in black and white. The distance between Cape Town and Durban generally precludes travel for most WP fans.
4 A fairytale for Odwa
Province were the party poopers in the official Odwa Ndungane tribute match, but perhaps fate has had it in store that the Sharks legend gets a dream send-off today.
As fortune has decreed, the 36-year-old is starting the match in his well-worn No 14 jersey instead of playing off the bench (the original plan a few weeks ago).
Youngster Sbu Nkosi was injured in the semi-final against the Bulls last week, opening the door for the revered veteran to start his 251st – and final – match for the Sharks.
5 Don’t bet against the bookies
When it comes to predicting results in sport, most of us go with our hearts rather than our heads. That is not the case when you are running a betting agency.
Cool, unbiased heads are responsible for setting the odds.
Local bookies BET.co.za have predicted a narrow victory for the home side, offering odds of 11/20 on a Sharks victory.
WP can be backed at 31/20, while the draw is available at 25/1. In handicap terms, the Sharks are slim 5.5-point favourites.