Currie Cup Finals – no underdogs, only contenders

Written by Maria Delport (Letgo)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks, WP on 24 Oct 2012 at 09:30
Tagged with : , , , , , , ,

I don’t know what it is about it. Why is it that when we get to finals, teams don’t want to be the team most likely to win? Not really at any other time in the year, but as soon as the cup is at stake, no one wants to admit or accept that the odds are in their favour. This year, it seems Allister Coetzee and his team have claimed the “Underdog” tag with Plumtree now taking the firm ‘it really doesn’t matter’ stance.

“I think it’s a way to deflect pressure off his team.” says Plumtree “But they’ll have their own expectations and they’ll come here to win, so we’re not buying into all of that.”

He then does buy into it a little by building up the other team: “It’s a final and they were good enough to get here, so we respect them and we’ll go full out at them and they’ll be doing the same to us.”

But it doesn’t really matter what you say, because this year, it really does seem that most things are in advantage of the home team, just another thing that will favour the Sharks – home advantage. Then there is the home record and the record against WP in the last 5 games, the wet weather must count in the Sharks’ favour and finally injuries, with WP now struggling for depth in certain positions and the Sharks sitting with too much depth in some of theirs.

It’s not that WP isn’t a good team. No, as captain and coach made abundantly clear, this Western Province team is a dangerous team: “They have a very big forward pack and they have x-factor all over the park. Their line out functions really well and will put a lot of pressure on us where they’ll look to use their driving mall.” Plumtree warned about this weekend’s opposition.

Keegan Daniel supported his coach by pointing at the final movement of the Western Province semi final: “This weekend they were under pressure, they kicked for the corner and scored from that driving maul from 20m out. They have definitely grown a lot over the last couple of months as a unit.”

That’s another thing that Plumtree sees as a big equalizer: “If you look at that win, they were down and out with a minute to go and they got an opportunity and nailed it. That would have given them a lot of confidence coming here. That shows the character that they have in their team and that builds confidence.”

Louis Ludik points to the occasion as something that has always evened the field in the past “It’s Currie Cup. Its 120 years of history. It’s a massive challenge (to take on a team like WP). They have huge players in the team and the x-factor of players like Gio Aplon and Bryan Habana. They’re a good team and it will be a tough game. It’s a final. It’s anyone’s game.” says the in-form fullback.

John Plumtree has the final say on the point: “I know there’s a lot of talk out there about us being the favourites and predictions being made, but we know this is going to be a real final, a tough weekend and a real arm wrestle. It certainly won’t be any easier than it has been in the past.”

And at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters. It’s a final and as Plumtree and the Sharks know from experience (historically having lost more Currie Cup finals than they have won), no matter the odds, or worthiness, or pressure, when it’s a Currie Cup final, you’re going to have to be at your absolute best to walk away with that coveted trophy.


  • Any news on the WP team? Interested to see the back 3. Have a feeling that they will go back to Pietersen, Habana and Aplon.

  • Comment 1, posted at 24.10.12 10:36:35 by Amateur Reply
  • My biggest worry is our wobbly line out, and the WP driving maul. Our forwards needs to be very careful when defending the maul not to overcook the first counter shove. Especially when WP spins the maul to change direction when most of our players pushed past the centre of “gravity” of the maul

  • Comment 2, posted at 24.10.12 11:02:32 by Bokhoring Reply
  • I really hope the Durban people go out and support the team… The ticket sales as at yesterday, was not good at all….

    Cmon, go and support the team, make the home ground advantage really count for something!!!
    … please…

  • Comment 3, posted at 24.10.12 11:04:38 by SharksRTB Reply

  • @Bokhoring (Comment 2) : It’s interesting that you bring the spin of the maul up and I am sure WP will use that and the Sharks, as you said will have to be careful of how they defend this maul.

    But just for arguments sake, I don’t think twisting around the centre of ‘gravity’ of the maul – as you described it – should be legal.

    I feel it is already so hard to stop a maul and I would say every rule is against the defending team (which kills the contest, something you don’t want to see in rugby or any team sport), that there should be more rules (or at least one) against the attacking team.

    When you spin of the centre of gravity of the mall, you in essence create a second maul and therefore it should be called truck and trailer, unless the ball carrier leads into the opposition (which they never do).

    Notice that when teams do this, even though it seems that they stay bound at all times, that the initial ball carrier that was bound with the defenders to form the maul now peals of either brought down by a defender or to the back of the new maul.

    I feel as soon as the opposition is able to split the maul (where players peal of, but more specifically the initial ball carrier is still bound with opposition players, but not bound with the ball), the maul should be called over and the ball should be played, as in open play. In other words, the opposition can now play the ball carrier.

    I don’t want mauls to be completely blown out of the game, but creating obvious obstruction for your ball carrier to move into and not allowing the opposition any way (or any legal way) to stop them, does not feel right to me.

    If the split mall rule is instilled attacking teams will have to commit more players and more strength to a maul to have it move forward. Not just obvious obstruction in binding opposition players to one maul while creating a second. It doesn’t make sense to me.

    I don’t know if anyone else has noticed this and whether anyone else feels the same?

  • Comment 4, posted at 24.10.12 11:43:51 by Letgo Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @Letgo (Comment 5) : I don’t believe that the tactic is legal, but I have noticed that teams like WP use that to counter a forceful counter shove. It is very effective as most of the opposing defenders are taken out and the maul can pick up serious momentum. In fact by spinning you can actually use the defenders’ momentum against them.

    The refs don’t seem to pick up on this

  • Comment 5, posted at 24.10.12 11:49:47 by Bokhoring Reply
  • @Bokhoring (Comment 2) : We managed to counter the Bulls maul very effectively and should be able to handle the WP.

  • Comment 6, posted at 24.10.12 12:02:50 by rhineshark Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Spirit of Rugby
  • @Bokhoring (Comment 5) : When teams point this spin out to refs they usually say – Same mall. Still bound.

    Maybe it’s just one of those cunning tactics that refs should put more emphasis on.

  • Comment 7, posted at 24.10.12 12:24:35 by Letgo Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • We just need to outsmart the wP by playing a better game plan

  • Comment 8, posted at 24.10.12 12:27:29 by sharktooth Reply

  • How is the wheater in durban…still wetty??

  • Comment 9, posted at 24.10.12 12:28:19 by sharktooth Reply

  • @rhineshark (Comment 6) : To be honest the Bull’s maul have not really been that flash this year.

  • Comment 10, posted at 24.10.12 12:48:23 by Bokhoring Reply
  • @sharktooth (Comment 9) : Yip, been raining on and of all week already. If its not going to rain during the game, the field will still be soggy.

  • Comment 11, posted at 24.10.12 14:11:32 by Letgo Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • To counter the Province driving mall, I think the Sharks should all move away from a mall early in the game and get a single player to tackle the front player in the mall to try and get a penalty for “truck & trailer”. This way, the WP might think twice on setting up to many malls.

  • Comment 12, posted at 24.10.12 15:34:54 by Bite me Reply

    Bite me

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