Smit’s Sharks have one last go at Super Rugby silverware

Former Springbok captain John Smit can add a Super Rugby title to his trophy cabinet if his 2007 Sharks team overcome the 2011 Crusaders in Christchurch.

The Sharks, then coached by Dick Muir, finished the 2007 Super 14 season as runners-up after losing the final to the Bulls in a heartbreaking manner, as Bryan Habana scored a try in the 82nd minute in Durban to give the visitors the win.

SCROLL DOWN TO VOTE: 2011 Crusaders versus 2007 Sharks 

Muir’s Sharks finished top of the table with a 13-3 record, which included a clean sweep of their South African rivals, with a 17-3 win over the Bulls and 33-3 victory against the Lions in Durban and away wins over the Cheetahs (30-14) and Stormers (36-10).

During their dramatic encounter with the Crusaders that season, the Sharks were able to secure a 27-26 victory at Kings Park.

The Sharks had an array of weapons, including flyhalf Butch James, centres Brad Barritt and Waylon Murray, openside flank Jacques Botes, scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar and 2007 top try-scorer JP Pietersen, who finished the season with 11 tries.

Then there was the deadeye kicking game of both fullback Percy Montgomery and utility back Frans Steyn, back then playing on the wing, who were able to nail penalties and drop goals from most areas on the field.

Todd Blackadder’s 2011 Crusaders featured Sean Maitland at his best and the winger – who would go on to play for Scotland – scored nine tries to finish as the season’s top try-scorer, tied with the Bulls’ Bjorn Basson.

The team was also boosted by the 10-12 combination of Dan Carter and Sonny Bill Williams whose creative play and offloading ability led to the undoing of many defences.

Their season was disrupted by the 2011 earthquakes in Christchurch, which led to the ruin of their home ground of Lancaster Park. Instead, the Crusaders played their home games in Nelson and Timaru. Their game against the Sharks in 2011 was the first Super Rugby match to ever be played outside a Sanzaar region, taking place at Twickenham, where the Crusaders secured a 44-28 victory thanks to Maitland’s brace.

After finishing top of the New Zealand conference and third overall, the Crusaders beat the Sharks and Stormers in the playoffs before travelling to Brisbane where they went down 18-13 against the Reds in the final.

Both teams will be eager to avenge their respective final defeats. But only one of these teams can move into the next round of the interactive Greatest Super Rugby Team tournament. Will it be Smit’s Sharks or Sonny Bill’s Saders? The decision is in your hands …

This poll has ended (since 14 days).

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Dylan Jack