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CC Final: Home ground and weather

Wed, 23 Oct 2013 14:10
Newlands-general
It is a fascinating contest:T he team that doesn't lose at home against the team that plays well away
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Playing at home always is an advantage. Of the 52 Currie Cup Finals so far. Four have been drawn and the visiting teams have won 20 times.

That’s OK, for it seems that the visitors have a chance. But when teams go to Newlands from other parts of South Africa, the ratio changes radically.

The last time Western Province lost a Currie Cup Final at Newlands was in 1939. That is also the only time they have lost a Currie Cup Final at home.  There have been eleven Currie Cup Finals at Newlands. Western Province have won eight, two have been drawn and then there was the defeat in 1939.

Natal have won the Currie Cup Final six times, three of those victories at home, three away.

In 1995 Natal beat Western Province in Durban. That afternoon it poured with rain, which was supposed to have suited Western Province from the winter-rain area. In fact Natal simply outplayed them.

For one thing they messed up the Western Province scrum, which was supposed to have been their strong point. It’s harder to scrum in the wet, and in any case Natal had done their homework on Tommy Laubscher, Province’s powerhouse prop.

Traditionally teams that have come to Newlands have worried about the heaviness of the field. They would come down to a damp field with long grass, and their calf muscles would give up the struggle in the second half.

No more. Newlands is excellently drained. and the field is a mixture of carpet and rye grass, not heavy at all. Now Western Province want to let their speedsters do the talking.

Conservative Natal would like the sort of field they had in Durban against the Free State Cheetahs in the semi-final – wet, heavy,  – a field for slogging forwards to enjoy.

The weather forecast for Saturday says that there will be no  rain - partly cloudy but no rain and none of Durban's slippery humidity either.

The temperature for Saturday is forecast to be 24°C, dropping to 16°C.

All is set for a marvellous, exciting afternoon's rugby.

Home ground means home crowd. Both teams are used to involved crowds. At Newlands, as in Durban, there are no spectators. Everybody participates as passionately as possible. And Newlands is sold out for Saturday’s match. There will not be great support for Natal amongst the 51 000 crowd.

It is a fascinating contest in sight – the team that doesn't lose at home against the team that plays well away, a physical encounter for none but the brave. Often in matches such as this, small actions have large consequences.

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