Tuesday, November 01, 2011
The Golden Lions claimed the 2011 Currie Cup after a brilliant performance in the final in Johannesburg on Saturday as they beat the Natal Sharks 42-16 in an entertaining game. It's their first piece of major silverware since 1999.
Coached by Kiwi John Mitchell, the Lions had a fantastic season as they were fairly unaffected by the World Cup and ended top of the table. The Sharks on the other hand missed a lot of key players in the last two months, but when they all returned for the big game, they didn't gel.
"The Lions were, without doubt, the best team on the park and worthy winners of the Currie Cup - we just have to take it on the chin," said Sharks captain Keegan Daniel. "We're disappointed we didn't convert opportunities into points in the first half when we had territory and possession, but you can't win finals with the ill-discipline we showed.
Getting to a final is one thing, but you need to produce a great game, which we couldn't do. The Lions were phenomenal," he added.
It is the Lions' first home victory in a Currie Cup since 1950, so it was a massive moment for the union that lifted the first ever Super Rugby competition, the Super 10, way back in 1993.
Young flyhalf Elton Jantjies was outstanding on the day, kicking everything asked of him and marshalling his troops expertly. He's had the experience and know-how of Carlos Spencer to call on, and it showed. While Sharks fullback Pat Lambie seems to be a long term option for the Springboks number ten slot, Jantjies is tipped by many to be an ideal candidate.
On the other side of things veteran Wickus Van Heerden, who captained the side without success a few years back before moving to the Bulls in search of bigger things, said that it was one of the best experiences of his career. "To see a packed Coca-Cola Park is very special. I know where we have come from as a team, and this is unbelievable," he said. Van Heerden has now won the Vodacom Cup, Currie Cup, Super 14, and the World Cup.
CJ Van Der Linde was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle, which is included below, but that didn't affect the Lions at all as they scored some great tries while Jantjies kept the scoreboard ticking over. Below are highlights of what was a thoroughly enjoyable game of rugby.