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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Sat, 10 October 2015
Free State Cheetahs v Sharks 12h00 Bloemfontein
Samoa v Scotland 13h30 Newcastle
Golden Lions v Griquas 14h00 Ellis Park
Australia v Wales 15h45 London
England v Uruguay 19h00 Manchester
Sun, 11 October 2015
Argentina v Namibia 11h00 Leicester
Italy v Romania 13h30 Exeter
France v Ireland 15h45 Cardiff
United States v Japan 19h00 Gloucester
Fri, 16 October 2015
Blue Bulls v Western Province 17h00 Pretoria
Connacht v Zebre 18h30 Sportsground
Glasgow Warriors v Dragons 18h35 Scotstoun
Scarlets v Leinster 18h35 Parc y Scarlets
Edinburgh v Ulster 18h45 BT Murrayfield
Fri, 09 October 2015
New Zealand v Tonga 47 | 9
Western Province v EP Kings 45 | 14
Pumas v Blue Bulls 24 | 25
Wed, 07 October 2015
Namibia v Georgia 16 | 17
South Africa v United States 64 | 0
Tue, 06 October 2015
Fiji v Uruguay 47 | 15
Canada v Romania 15 | 17
Sun, 04 October 2015
Ireland v Italy 16 | 9
Argentina v Tonga 45 | 16
Zebre v Scarlets 8 | 20
Sat, 03 October 2015
England v Australia 13 | 33
Connacht v Cardiff Blues 36 | 31
South Africa v Scotland 34 | 16
Samoa v Japan 5 | 26
Leinster v Dragons 37 | 13
Team P W D L Pts
Golden Lions 9 9 0 0 43
Blue Bulls 10 8 0 2 39
Western Province 10 7 0 3 35
Free State Cheetahs 9 3 1 5 21
Sharks 9 4 0 5 19
Pumas 10 3 1 6 17
EP Kings 10 2 0 8 12
Griquas 9 1 0 8 8