Sharks 21-33 Western Province: Visitors fight back in second half to win Currie Cup title
Last Updated: 28/10/17 6:33pm
Western Province turned an 11-point deficit into a 33-21 victory over the Sharks in Durban Saturday to win the Currie Cup a record-extending 34th time.
Sharks, the hosts and slight pre-match favourites, led 21-10 after 32 minutes when fly-half Curwin Bosch slotted a long-range drop goal under pressure at Kings Park.
But that was as good as it got for the home team, who won away and lost at home to Province in the league phase of the competition this season.
Province narrowed the gap to 21-15 by half-time thanks to a post-siren try from winger Dillyn Leyds, and scored 18 unanswered second-half points.
"I am over the moon and so proud of these guys," said Province skipper Chris van Zyl.
"It was an up-and-down season for us, but somewhere in the middle of it we started to believe we could lift this trophy.
"What a performance by the forwards. We spoke throughout the season about how scrumming was going to win the Currie Cup."
Sharks skipper and lock Ruan Botha said: "Province came at us at the second half, when we fell asleep.
"I am sorry for [retiring winger] Odwa Ndungane. He is an amazing person on and off the field. Winning the Currie Cup would have been the perfect farewell for him."
The scrum was expected to be a key battleground and Province pushed Sharks back at the first set-piece of the match to win it against the head.
Inspired by 133kg Springbok tighthead Wilco Louw, Province had the upper hand in the scrums throughout, with the Sharks replacing their entire front row by the 55th minute.
Province also varied tactics to good effect, keeping the ball in hand when playing catch-up, then using the boot of fly-half Robert du Preez to gain territorial superiority.
Du Preez kicked 13 points and once again came out on top against his father, Sharks coach Robert, and brothers, Sharks loose forwards Daniel and Jean-Luc.
No 8 Daniel scored a try, but his sin-binning on 70 minutes for a cynical tackle was a massive blow as Sharks tried to claw back into the match.
Springbok flanker Jean-Luc was forced to retire with an ankle injury midway through the first half, and is likely to miss the upcoming four-Test tour of Europe.
Bosch impressed early on with the drop goal taking his points tally to 11, but as Sharks faded so did he, and Du Preez was a clear winner of the playmakers' battle.
Winger Ndungane, making his 251st and final appearance for Sharks, scored after four minutes and Bosch converted for a perfect start by the hosts.
But Province were level by the ninth minute thanks to a try from Scotland centre Huw Jones, which Du Preez converted.
A Bosch penalty and a Du Preez try gave the hosts a 15-7 advantage that was trimmed when Du Preez kicked his first penalty.
Bosch slotted a penalty and a drop goal for an 11-point lead and late first-half pressure from Province translated into the Leyds try.
Sharks barely threatened to score in a second half dominated by Province, and flanker Cobus Wiese and Jones scored tries with Du Preez converting one and kicking two penalties.