Tuesday, October 28, 2008
The Natal Sharks lifted the Currie Cup on Saturday for the first time in 12 years as they beat the Blue Bulls 14-9 in a tight and physical contest in Durban at a packed Kingspark.
The home side were deserved winners, outscoring the Blue Bulls by two tries to nil. The home crowd were on the edge of their seats with less than a minute to go though, as the Bulls had possession and looked like they were on their way to repeating the last gasp win in the Super 14 final of 2007.
The Sharks held on, and the Kingspark faithfal erupted as the star studded side finally achieved what many of them have been targeting for so long.
Comeback king Stefan Terblanche, perhaps the forgotten man of SA rugby had a sterling season at fullback and was unlucky to be excluded from the Sprinbok squad announcement that followed the match. He himself confessed that the long wait was well worth it, with winning the Currie Cup being one of his lifelong dreams.
That dream kicked into action twenty three minutes in when Ruan Pienaars typical dart for the line resulted in a handy seven point cushion. The second Sharks try came from some fancy footwork by Frederic Michalak and composed class by Terblanche, as they sent Francois Steyn diving over for the try.
Morne Steyn kept things close with two penalties and a drop goal, but it was the Sharks who held on to win in a most memorable of finals, perhaps not so much for the running display of both sides, but for the pure grunt and commitment shown all round.
Michalak himself, if we're not mistaken, is now only the second Frenchman (after Thierry Lacroix in 1996) to win both a Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere championship.
Note: Apologies for the poor audio