DURBAN – While the script before this last weekend’s semi-final round was written, with most predicting a Sharks and Western Province final, it was not that simple in the end. The men from the Cape had to battle the Blue Bulls in extra-time to secure their spot while the Sharks faced a second-half comeback from the Lions.
It was something that was truly needed in a competition which has been predominantly full of one-sided affairs, and it made for a great spectacle.
But, for Sharks coach Robert du Preez, it also made for a nervy time as he watched his side ride out the free-scoring Lions.
“Semi-finals are the toughest games because anything can happen on the day and the Lions are a tough side. They had us really worried there, but I am proud of the guys’ effort to come back after those two tries and they did fight it out to the end,” the coach said after the encounter.
The Sharks outscored the travelling Lions by four tries to three and held a comfortable 23-3 lead early in the second half.
However, the Lions ensured that there would be an exciting finish to the game with tries from Courtnall Skosan, who nabbed a brace, and Nic Groom.
“They are a dangerous side,” Du Preez explained. “If you make one or two slip ups that is what you get. We will have a look at that game and see how that happened, and sort it out next week.”
The Sharks are now into their second Currie Cup Final in two years, and, it is against the same opposition - but at a different venue.
They will face Western Province at Newlands and hope to derail the Cape side’s unbeaten streak when it matters most.
Those who have a good memory on them will also recall the 2012 to 2013 season when these two teams also played each other back to back in the finals, with a chance for history to early repeat itself should the Sharks win.
In 2012, Province beat the Sharks at Kings Park 25-18 to lift the trophy where as in the following year, at Newlands, it was the Sharks who emerged victorious 33-19.
The Sharks showed some real good touches in this semi-final against the Lions, and have probably been building to their best ahead of the last game of the season. If they are to have a chance against the unbeaten Cape side, it could well be in this game with form, and history, as well as an almost slip up from Province, all on the Sharks’ side.
“I have always said, when this team are patient and put phases together they are devastating, and we just get ahead of ourselves now and again.
In the first half they were clinical and outstanding, so I am really happy with the win,” Du Preez concluded.@DarrynJack216