By Brendon Atwell
Brendon’s BlogSpot http://www.inyourspace.co.za/
The Cell C Sharks overturned an halftime deficit to win the Currie Cup title with a scrappy 17-12 (halftime 0-6) victory over DHL Western Province at a sweltering DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.
It was a scrappy game at best but the final will be remembered as a family affair as the Du Toit brothers, and father, lifted the trophy with flyhalf Robert du Preez winning the trophy for the second time in a row – but in a different jersey.
The last time three brothers played in a Currie Cup winning team was in 1984 with the Du Plessis brothers lofting the coveted trophy for Province. Robert, who won the Currie Cup with Province last year at Kings Park, was again on the winning side, though this time celebrating with his brothers Jean-Luc and Dan with their father Robert senior looking on from the coaches box.
Both teams were tense in the opening periods and it was the boot of left wing SP Marais that separated the sides at halftime as the prolific kicker had Province leading 6-0 at halftime. The stats were on the side of the home side as the team leading at halftime have won the cup nine times out of ten but the visitors had other ideas.
Hooker Akker van der Merwe began a move in the second half, breaking through the Province defense before offloading to centre Marius Louw. The ball was recycled and worked towards the Province line where Van der Merwe burst through for the opening try of the final.
Du Preez’s attempted conversion was sent to the right of the poles but referee Jaco Peyper ruled that wing Sergeal Petersen had chased too early and the Sharks flyhalf was allowed to retake the conversion, which he succeeded with to give the men from Durban a slender one-point lead.
Despite Province dominating at scrum-time and winning a few penalties, their lineout woes kept them on the back foot with Bongi Mbonambi and the Scarra Ntubeni both missing their lineout jumpers.
Province regained the lead nine minuted into the second half when Marais landed his third penalty and Number 8 Sikhombuze Notshe had been lifted off his feet and dragged through the air by Dan du Preez. Peyper awarded a penalty but kept the cards in his pocket.
The Sharks reagined the lead a few minutes later as Du Preez, fresh from his reprieve, almost scored but lost control of the ball over the Province tryline. However, TMO Shaun Veldsman informed Peyper of a high tackle by JD Scheickerling and Du Preez made no mistake with the penalty attempt.
The visitors then extended their lead when flank Tyler Paul burst over the line after a mistake from Province inside the Sharks 22m area gave the Sharks the chance to counter-attack – which they did brilliantly.
Paul’s try, which was converted by Du Preez, gave the Durbanites an eight-point lead with just eight minutes left on the clock. But Province were awarded a penalty just moments later and with Marais off the field, Damian Willemse stepped up and made no mistake with his attempt, reducing the deficit to just five points.
But Province were unable to make any further inroads and the men from Durban held on for what has become a trend between the two sides – an away victory in the Currie Cup final.
DHL Western Province – Penalties: SP Marais (3), Damian Willemse.
Cell C Sharks – Tries: Akker van der Merwe, Tyler Paul; Conversions: Robert du Preez (2); Penalty: Du Preez.