Sharks captains Chiliboy Ralepelle and Louis Schreuder lift the Currie Cup after their team beat Western Province in the final at Newlands on Saturday. Photo: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency/ANA

CAPE TOWN – The Sharks got their revenge!

After going down 33-21 to Western Province in last year’s final, Robert du Preez’s team engineered a well-deserved 17-12 triumph at Newlands on Saturday.

The Sharks played with the greater conviction and fluidity on the day against a Province side that failed to get out of second gear on a hot afternoon in Cape Town .

Akker van der Merwe’s just after halftime put the visitors into a 7-6 lead, and even though WP regained the advantage with a SP Marais penalty, the decisive play came with eight minutes to go, when flank Tyler Paul dotted down.

The Durbanites had the ascendancy from the start, despite going 6-0 down after 36 minutes.

They took on the much-vaunted WP scrum and won that battle, with Juan Schoeman putting pressure on Springbok Wilco Louw.

But the greatest disruption came in the lineouts, where Province were unable to gain momentum as tap-backs and challenges from the Sharks upset their rhythm.

The visitors just seemed hungrier and up for the fight, while they also varied their play more and stretched the WP defence throughout.

In contrast, Province appeared to adopt a conservative approach, with flyhalf Josh Stander opting to put boot to ball more often.

There was none of the “joie de vivre” that coach John Dobson had asked for ahead of the final on attack, with the competition’s top try-scorer Sergeal Petersen hardly receiving the ball in space from his inside backs.

With Stander at No 10, star playmaker Damian Willemse didn’t see much of the ball, so Dobson may be ruing his decision not to employ the Springbok in the pivot position.

Referee Jaco Peyper didn’t dish out as many penalties as WP received from Egon Seconds in the semi-final, and that ‘open’ approach helped the Sharks, who loaded the breakdowns and punched holes around the fringes through Du Preez twins Dan and Jean-Luc.

Sharks centre Jeremy Ward and WP wing Sergeal Petersen go up for a high ball at Newlands. Photo: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency/ANA

Even when Curwin Bosch missed a long-range penalty on the hour-mark, which kept WP in a 10-9 lead, there was an air of inevitability that the Sharks would be victorious.

And so it happened when Paul barged over from close quarters in the 72nd minute, and flyhalf Robert du Preez banged over the conversion for a 17-9 lead.

Province had a few opportunities inside the Sharks half, and Willemse slotted a 75th-minute three-pointer to make it a five-point game.

But captain Louis Schreuder’s team held on for a memorable win at the scrumhalf’s former home ground.

Points-Scorers

Western Province 12 – Penalties: SP Marais (3), Damian Willemse (1).

Sharks 17 – Tries: Akker van der Merwe, Tyler Paul. Conversions: Robert du Preez (2). Penalty: Robert du Preez (1).

 

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