Contrasting styles spice up Final

Sun, 21 Oct 2012 14:06
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The contrasting styles of coastal rivals the Sharks and Western Province will make for an especially intriguing Currie Cup Final at Kings Park on Saturday.

The contrasting styles of coastal rivals the Sharks and Western Province will make for an especially intriguing Currie Cup Final at Kings Park on Saturday.

Dissimilar in tactics yet equally efficient. That is the back story that has led to this captivating clash that will pit the attacking prowess of the hosts against the resolute defence of the visitors.

Last weekend’s semifinals illustrated the finalists’ different approaches with the Sharks giving the ball width in wet conditions against the Blue Bulls and Western Province content to back their defence and play field position against the Golden Lions.

It’s not to say that either side are one-dimensional. The Sharks have epitomised a well-rounded team this season, boasting the best attacking and defensive records in this year’s competition - scoring 32 tries and conceding just 18 during the regular season.

Province showed some attacking zest early in the season but gradually reverted to their conservative style as the business end of the competition grew near, resulting in them scoring 28 tries and leaking 19 heading into the play-offs.

Both teams have the personnel to play a balanced game but predominantly opt to play to their greatest strengths. What has made the Sharks’ attacking brand so successful is that they play in the right areas of the field.

Whereas the Golden Lions were guilty of naively running the ball from inside their 22 at the weekend, the Sharks understand the importance of field position. It’s long been a strength of the Durban side and the Achilles Heel of the men from Johannesburg.

With an in-form Pat Lambie pulling the strings at pivot, the Sharks have the variation to keep the opposition in two minds. Their outstanding back three have also played an integral role in their success.

Louis Ludik is the form fullback in the country and has been consistently outstanding all season. Along with Springbok speedsters JP Pietersen and Lwazi Mvovo, the trio negated the kick-and-chase approach of the Blue Bulls.

Province rely on a similar tactic and would have noted that their tactical kicking will need to be pinpoint accurate. If not, they would simply feed the Sharks possession and leave themselves susceptible to counter attacks.

What would have been particularly pleasing to John Plumtree is the way in which his charges defended the Blue Bulls’ respected driving maul. This is a key feature in Province’s attacking playbook and the move that saw them snatch victory from the jaws of defeat at Coca-Cola Park.

The performance at the weekend would have given the Sharks great confidence that they will be able to shut down Province’s driving maul with similar efficiency.

The major concern for the Sharks will be their misfiring line-out. Young Kyle Cooper was erratic in this regard and the Sharks will hope that Springbok tourist Craig Burden will offer greater reliability in this all-important facet.

Province should have the upper hand in the line-outs but are bound to struggle at scrum time. The Cape side were given a working over by the Golden Lions and will be put under immense pressure by a Sharks combination that outclassed their Blue Bulls counterparts and won a number of penalties with their scrummaging nous.

In addition to a powerful tight five, the Sharks boast a brilliant all-Springbok loose trio. Duane Vermeulen had an uncharacteristically quiet game against the Golden Lions and will need to be at his best if Province are to combat the well-balanced Sharks trio.

Given the ascendency they should enjoy in the front and back rows, their attacking synergy between forwards and backs, having a multi-skilled flyhalf and crucial home ground advantage, the Durban decider is essentially the Sharks’ to lose rather than Province’s to win.

By Quintin van Jaarsveld

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 15 December 2017
Ulster v Harlequins 19h45 Kingspan Stadium
Sat, 16 December 2017
Treviso v Scarlets 13h00 Stadio Comunale di Monigo
Montpellier v Glasgow Warriors 13h00 Altrad Stadium
Leinster v Exeter Chiefs 15h15 Aviva Stadium
Racing Metro v Castres 15h15 Stade Yves-du-Manoir
Bath v Toulon 17h30 Recreation Ground
Sun, 17 December 2017
Wasps v La Rochelle 13h00 Ricoh Arena
Clermont Auvergne v Saracens 15h15 Stade Marcel-Michelin
Ospreys v Northampton Saints 15h15 Liberty Stadium
Leicester Tigers v Munster 17h30 Welford Road
Fri, 22 December 2017
Wasps v Gloucester 22h00 Ricoh Arena
Newcastle Falcons v Harlequins 22h00 Kingston Park
Northampton Saints v Exeter Chiefs 22h00 Franklin's Gardens
Leicester Tigers v Saracens 22h00 Welford Road
Worcester Warriors v Leicester Tigers 22h00 Sixways
Sale Sharks v Bath 22h00 AJ Bell Stadium
RESULT SCORE
Mon, 11 December 2017
Saracens v Clermont Auvergne 14 | 46
Sun, 10 December 2017
Exeter Chiefs v Leinster 8 | 18
Harlequins v Ulster 5 | 17
La Rochelle v Wasps 49 | 29
Sat, 09 December 2017
Munster v Leicester Tigers 33 | 10
Castres v Racing Metro 16 | 13
Northampton Saints v Ospreys 32 | 43
Toulon v Bath 24 | 20
Scarlets v Treviso 33 | 28
Fri, 08 December 2017
Glasgow Warriors v Montpellier 22 | 29
Sun, 03 December 2017
Harlequins v Saracens 20 | 19
Sat, 02 December 2017
Cheetahs v Scarlets 28 | 21
Munster v Ospreys 36 | 10
Wasps v Leicester Tigers 32 | 25
Treviso v Leinster 10 | 36
CURRIE CUP
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
Sharks 12 10 0 2 47
Western Province 12 7 0 5 37
Golden Lions 12 6 0 6 35
Blue Bulls 12 5 0 7 32
Free State Cheetahs 12 6 0 6 31
Pumas 12 4 0 8 27
Griquas 12 4 0 8 26