Sharks claim Currie Cup triumph
October 25, 2008
Ruan Pienaar scored the crucial opening try as the Sharks took the spoils
© Getty Images
The Sharks sent Durban into a frenzy of celebration by beating the Blue Bulls 14-9 in the Currie Cup Final.
Tries from the Sharks' talismanic scrum-half Ruan Pienaar and centre Francois Steyn ensured that Johann Muller's men broke a 12-year drought by winning the coveted golden trophy for the first time since 1996.
Pienaar struck midaway through the first half, giving his side an early lead that they never looked likely to relinquish. The Bulls stayed in touch through the boot of fly-half Morne Steyn, but Francois Steyn's score for the Sharks midway through the second half put them out-of-sight.
Strong Bulls defence had seen them hold off the enterprising Sharks during the opening stages, with both Stefan Terblanche and Steyn missing drop-goal attempts for the home side. It was a fine break by Springbok JP Pietersen that provided the impetus needed to cut through the Bulls defence, the wing feeding Pienaar to stretch and score.
French fly-half Frederic Michalak was a lively and creative presence behind the scrum for the Sharks, while the Bulls struggled to get their game-breaking wing Bryan Habana involved for long periods.
After Morne Steyn had got the Bulls off to a fine start to the second-half with a 40m drop-goal, some quick feet from Terblanche saw Francois Steyn put into space for the Sharks' crucial second try.
The final whistle sent a pulsating King's Park into raptures as the Sharks avenged the 2007 Super 14 final defeat and brought and end to a nagging drought in domestic competition. Scorers were:
Sharks (7) 14: Tries: Ruan Pienaar (22 min), Francois Steyn (59 min). Cons: Ruan Pienaar, Frederic Michalak
Blue Bulls (3) 9: Penalties: Morné Steyn (2) Drop Goals: Morné Steyn
Natal Sharks: Stefan Terblanche, Odwa Ndungane, Adrian Jacobs, Francois Steyn, JP Pietersen, Frederic Michalak, Ruan Pienaar, Ryan Kankowski, Jean Deysel, Jacques Botes, Johann Muller (captain), Steven Sykes, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: John Smit, Deon Carstens, Albert van den Berg, Keegan Daniel, Rory Kockott, Bradley Barritt, Waylon Murray.
Blue Bulls: Zane Kirchner, John Mametsa, Marius Delport, Wynand Olivier, Bryan Habana, Morne Steyn, Fourie du Preez, Pierre Spies, Wikus van Heerden, Deon Stegmann, Victor Matfield (captain), Danie Rossouw, Rayno Gerber, Derick Kuun, Gurthro Steenkamp.
Replacements: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Werner Kruger, Juandre Kruger, Dewald Potgieter, Heini Adams, Burton Francis, Tiger Mangweni.
Firdose Moonda looks at the moves towards greater integration within South African rugby ... and what the future holds
Martin Gillingham looks ahead to what he believes is the most remarkable ever climax to the league phase of the Top 14
With just two rounds left in the regular season, we look at the prospects of the teams taking part in the Championship play-offs
Joe Simpson talks to Charlie Morgan about loss, Wasps and being England's game-breaker