GARETH DUNCAN looks back to six monumental moments of the Currie Cup final.
Many were looking forward to the individual battle between in-form wings Bryan Habana and JP Pietersen. And it took seven minutes for these two players to be part of a crucial moment of the game. In the seventh minute, Paul Jordaan’s break out wide put Pietersen in the clear. However, he was stopped by a courageous cover tackle from Habana. If it wasn’t for the WP wing’s efforts, Pietersen would’ve enjoyed a clear run to the whitewash. Unfortunately, Habana picked up a knee injury and was forced leave the field moments later.
While many will rave about WP flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis’ performance, he didn’t have a great start to the match. He had a few poor moments during, which included poor tactical kicks and loose passes. One skip pass aimed to Gio Aplon was intercepted by JP Pietersen, who launched a promising counter-attack. While Province lucky not to concede a try, it did lead to one of Pat Lambie’s four penalties during the opening 30 minutes. Luckily for WP, Catrakilis settled in nicely thereafter.
DE JONGH’S BRILLIANCE
Juan de Jongh’s break was reminiscent of his brilliant try scored in the 2010 Super Rugby semi-final victory over the Waratahs at Newlands. But this try was even better. The outside centre ran the perfect angle as he latched on to Catrakilis’s pop pass. He handed off Keegan Daniel and beat Marcell Coetzee and Lwazi Mvovo on route to the chalk. It changed the tone of the game, and WP went on to hold a 16-12 lead at half-time.
SHARKS’ SOLID DEFENCE
WP showed a great defensive effort to deny the Sharks a try during the early stages of the first and second halves, but the Sharks’ guard midway during the opening 40 stood firm at a vital stage of the match. The hosts were leading 18-16, but Province built strong momentum on attack on the hour mark. They camped inside the Sharks’ red zone, but were kept out time after time. WP could only leave with a penalty from Demetri Catrakilis. Although they conceded three points, their defensive efforts saw them only trail by two points at that stage of the match. Game on.
THE GREEK’S DROP GOALS
While Province struggled to cross the tryline, Catrakilis starred with the boot in the final quarter slotting two drop goals. The first one was well struck with the right foot, while he hacked the second with his left boot and the goal attempt just sneaked over. It gave Province a 25-18 lead, and forced the Sharks to search for a converted try to level matters.
The Sharks had two moments to clinch a try at the death. First, Louis Ludik broke down the blindside with Charl McLeod in support. He only had one defender in his way – Joe Pietersen who was back as a sweeper. Ludik thought he drew his man before offloading to McLeod, however, Pietersen made a fantastic dive tackle to stop the scrumhalf. Pat Lambie picked up the pop pass from McLeod, but lost the ball in contact. The Sharks then had possession at the sound of the final hooter. They worked themselves near the tryline, but lost the ball in contact again, this time 10m from the whitewash. WP held on for a famous victory.