CRAIG LEWIS reflects on the five most recent finals between Western Province and the Sharks, which have served up some surprise results.
2017: Sharks 21 Western Province 33, Durban
The Sharks went into the 2017 playoffs on the back of a dominant display in the league phase of the competition, which saw them finish 10 log points ahead of second-placed Western Province.
With both teams progressing to the final, the Sharks were installed as firm favourites on their home ground, and the match looked to be going according to script as they established a 21-10 lead heading into the latter stages of the opening half.
However, Province went on to score 23 unanswered points as they displayed the superior composure and class under pressure to clinch the domestic crown.
2013: Western Province 19 Sharks 33, Cape Town
Four years earlier, it had been Province’s turn to host the Sharks as home-ground favourites, with the Cape-based side having defeated their coastal foes just a fortnight before the final.
However, the Sharks produced a tactical masterclass under the guidance of coach Brendan Venter, who devised an astute kicking strategy that the visitors executed to perfection.
The Sharks made an early statement when they opened up a 10-0 lead, and never really looked back from there.
2012: Sharks 18 Western Province 25, Durban
This encounter saw Province end an 11-year trophy drought as a youthful team stunned a Bok-laden Sharks side on their home turf.
A game-changing moment proved to be the stunning solo try scored by Juan de Jongh just before half-time, which helped send the visitors into a shock four-point lead at the break.
Although the Sharks did briefly reclaim the lead in the second half, Demetri Catrakilis would break the hearts of the home team as he slotted two decisive drop goals to seal victory.
2010: Sharks 30 Western Province 10, Durban
Both teams claimed 10 wins during the regular season in that year, but it was the Sharks who managed to top the log after collecting four more bonus points along the way.
Nevertheless, many pundits backed a powerful Province team to overcome the Sharks – as they had done quite comfortably in the final round of the league stage.
As it turned out, young flyhalf Pat Lambie emerged as the hero for the Sharks as he racked up a tally of 25 points, which included a memorable try where he handed off veteran Bok Schalk Burger before scoring under the posts.
2001: Western Province 29 Sharks 24, Cape Town
Once again, when these two sides had clashed earlier on during the 2001 season, it had been the Sharks who claimed a convincing 36-13 victory.
Although the Sharks would go on to outscore Province by three tries to two in the final, while also establishing a handy 17-6 lead at half-time, the hosts would ultimately mount a thrilling fightback.
Flyhalf Chris Rossouw scored a superb try just after half-time, while Braam van Straaten contributed 24 points as the hosts emerged victorious.
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) October 22, 2018
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images