Well well well – after 11 weeks of intense action, it all comes down to this: 80 minutes at Newlands between the two best sides in the competition to determine who will win the caoveted golden trophy.
Currie Cup Final: Western Province v Sharks (Satuday, 5:30pm)
A lot of money, both smart and otherwise, is on the home side here. A number of factors come into play: they’ve not lost at all this season (including two victories over the Sharks), they have a settled team and coaching staff, they’re the defending champions and haven’t lost a Cup final at Newlands in living memory. With a good mix of experienced campaigners and exciting young talents like Cheslin Kolbe, Western Province appear to be holding a lot of the cards and few scribes seem prepared to look any further than a comfortable home victory in this game.
That said, with the boot well on the other foot last year – and a Sharks team of similar strength to this one installed by all and sundry as clear favourites for the cup – the unthinkable happened and the wrong side won. I’m prepared to buck the trend here and give credence to that sort of outcome on Saturday. The Sharks have picked a phenomenal team and one full of players that have some experience in winning big knock-out matches away from home. Finals are determined often on the smallest of things and I take great confidence from knowing that the Sharks have never this year ended outside of a single score margin when facing Province.
The men from Durban will be up against it for sure, but I’m backing them to sneak this. Sharks by 3 points, I say!
Western Province: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Jean de Villiers, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Cheslin Kolbe, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Deon Fourie (captain), 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Frans Malherbe, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Michael Rhodes, 19 Schalk Burger, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Kurt Coleman, 22 Juan de Jongh.
Sharks: 15 SP Marais, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Louis Ludik, 12 Francois Steyn, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Keegan Daniel (captain) , 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Peet Marais, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Stephan Lewies, 19 Jacques Botes, 20 Cobus Reinach, 21 Fred Zeilinga, 22 Heimar Williams.