BLOEMFONTEIN – The Sharks’ Currie Cup defence ended in Bloemfontein last night but it was with a bang rather than a whimper, and Sean Everitt’s Young Turks will return to Durban on Sunday with heads held high.
In a sensational semi-final that yielded 11 tries, the gallant Sharks had the 20 000-strong crowd sweating for three quarters of the match before a deluge of tries from the Cheetahs swept them into the final they will host next week at the same venue.
The 2019 Currie Cup has been a marvellous spectacle, with almost every game a closely fought contest and if yesterday’s thrilling semi-finals are anything to go by, we are in for an exceptional final between the Lions and the Cheetahs.
On Saturday, the Sharks led by 12 points just after half time after having scored points just before and after the break but the Cheetahs then turned on the taps to score 40 points. A hallmark of the Free Staters’ campaign has been their ability to score a flurry of points in the final quarter of matches, which is down to both the high levels of fitness coach Franco Smith demands of his charges and the coach’s wily use of his bench, which contains some of his best players.
The Cheetahs delivered a spectacular comeback to beat Western Province the week before and they did it again against the Sharks after having butchered a host of opportunities in a first half in which the Sharks scored three blistering tries.