Friday, October 29, 2010
The Natal Sharks host Western Province at Kingspark in Durban tomorrow in the Currie Cup final, the first meeting of the two sides in a final since 2001. Today well take a look back at that classic match.
Newlands was the venue as the reigning champion Western Province, who had taken the 2000 final, hosted the Sharks in what was set to be a incredibly physical battle between the two arch rivals, who surprisingly have now met in just four Currie Cup finals.
The two sides had met a few weeks before this game, with the Sharks winning convincingly 36-13 but playing Province at Newlands in a final is a different challenge altogether. The Cape Town crowd backed their side till the very end, and it brought out the best in players like Corne Krige, Chris Rossouw, and Braam Van Straaten.
Van Straaten was playing his final game before heading to Leeds in the UK and it turned out to be some send off as he scored 24 points on the day as their forwards took a stranglehold on the game, proving the demise of the Sharks, despite them scoring a great try through John Smit early on.
The only other points for WP came from flyhalf Rossouw, the younger brother of Springbok Pieter Rossouw, as Van Straaten scored a try, two conversions, and five penalties to equal the Currie Cup final points scoring record held by Naas Botha.
"Any big game at Newlands is a great occasion so you can imagine what the atmosphere is like at an Absa Currie Cup final. The Sharks made an intense start, they scored a quick try and kept up the pressure. We knew if we kept on playing the way we had during the season the chances and points would come. It was close but we made a strong comeback.
"It was a nice way to end my Province career and I was honoured to have been part of such a great occasion," van Straaten said.
There were some great players on display, including Percy Montgomery, AJ Venter, Bob Skinstad, Deon Kayser, and Breyton Paulse. Fans of Saracens will notice Neil de Kock in action, while Shaun Sowerby of Toulouse was prominent. Stefan Terblanche, who will captain the Sharks in the 2010 final tomorrow, is the only survivor from both the 2000 and 2001 finals. He also played in 2008, so will play in his fourth final tomorrow.