The Sharks emerged narrow, but deserved 14-9 victors in the final of the Absa Currie Cup to be crowned Champions on Saturday at The Absa Stadium Durban.
Michael Marnewick writes for Sharksrugby.co.za that it might have been a long time in the making, but boy does victory taste sweet. The Sharks were made to work hard for their win, but there seemed a collective belief driving them, one where, for the players, the result was non-negotiable and as was earlier said in dispatches, it was the team who wanted it more who won and the Sharks always seemed to be the ones asking the questions of the Bulls.
It was always going to be a close result and the five point margin of victory was testament to the excellent defensive effort from the visitors. However, two tries to none told the story of a team who were able to better create – and finish – opportunities and despite the best efforts of the Bulls, the Sharks were simply too committed, too physical and too good on defence.
It was trench warfare out there as finals should be, and as games between the Sharks and Bulls always unfold, there was no holding back as the two sides hammered away at each other.
Ruan Pienaar eyed a gap, took his chances and scored the opening try of the game to get the Sharks into a good position in the first half, and he constantly asked questions of the Bulls.
A narrow 7-3 lead to the Sharks at the break meant it was still anyone’s game, but in truth, the Sharks always seemed to have their noses in front and it was the Bulls who were playing catch-up rugby.
The game was played at helter-skelter pace from start to finish and Francois Steyn rounded off a move to put the Sharks well into the lead, Frederic Michalak slotting the conversion to mark a successful and sentimental end to his season with the Sharks. Stefan Terblanche too played a vintage match that was testament to his experience and calmness and he failed to put a foot wrong all game, giving the Sharks immense stability at the back. When recollections of this match are made in time, people will have to acknowledge what an outstanding team spirit was able to achieve under the astute coaching of John Plumtree and his management group.
Sharks: 14 (7)
Tries: Ruan Pienaar, Francois Steyn
Conversions: Ruan Pienaar (1), Frederic Michalak (1)
Blue Bulls: 9 (3)
Drop-Goal: Morne Steyn (1)
Penalty: Morne Steyn (2)
Image Credit to Michael MarnewickTweet