Dream Currie Cup final comes true

It’s the Absa Currie Cup Final most people anticipated; it’s the Sharks against the  Blue Bulls in Durban and the men in light blue could not be any more determined to go one better after their semifinal win over the defending champion Vodacom Free State Cheetahs.

The Bulls beat the Cheetahs 31-19 in a hard-fought encounter in Pretoria on Saturday evening, just hours after the table-topping Sharks made sure they would be hosting the Absa Currie Cup Final.

The Sharks, who have lost just twice this season, beat the Xerox Lions 29-14 in their semifinal in Durban, with both teams scoring two tries in a high-quality encounter.

The difference in the end was the kicking boot of September’s Absa Currie Cup Player of the Month, Ruan Pienaar, who contributed 16 points, whilst fellow Bok star Frans Steyn also weighed in with a monstrous 58-metre penalty goal.

Of course, the Sharks against the Bulls – in Durban – is a repeat of last year’s drama-filled Vodacom Super 14 Final; a game the Bulls won 20-19 in the last minute through a superb Bryan Habana try and Derick Hougaard’s subsequent conversion.

But Bulls skipper Matfield, who led his team to Super 14 glory, scoffed at suggestions that the Super 14 Final would have any bearing on the Absa Currie Cup Final in two weeks’ time.

“The Super 14 Final was special, as we made history by becoming the first-ever South African team to win the tournament, but that’s in the past now,” said Matfield on Saturday evening.

“The Absa Currie Cup is a different story altogether; it’s an important competition for us (the Bulls), mostly because of its great traditions.

Plus, us Springboks always look forward to playing in the Absa Currie Cup and, of course, there’s no better feeling than being able to drink a beer out of that trophy.”

Speaking about his team’s 31-19 win over the defending champions – who won the trophy in 2005 and 2007 and shared it with the Bulls in 2006

Matfield added: “We did well in the scrums and line-outs (against the Cheetahs), but we have a few minor things to work on before the Final. We’re confident, however, that things will be in order before the 25th.”

Vodacom Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske was understandably a bitterly disappointed man after his side’s semifinal loss.

“The Bulls capitalised on our mistakes – those ten points (a converted try and a penalty) before half-time really cost us,” said Drotske. “It’s always difficult to erase a deficit like that against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.”

The Blue Bulls have not won an Absa Currie Cup trophy outright since 2004 – when they beat the Cheetahs in the Final – but the Sharks will be chasing their first title since 1996, when the likes of Springbok stars Gary Teichmann, Henry Honiball and Andre Joubert were at their marauding best.

Many believe there are plenty of similarities between the current Sharks team and that team from the 1990’s and captain Johann Muller wore a broad smile at the final whistle on Saturday afternoon.

“It’s fantastic, we set ourselves some standards this season, we wanted a Final and a home one at that, and we have achieved it,” said Muller, who is leading the Sharks, despite the presence of World Cup winner John Smit in the matchday 22.

“In the first half we played some great rugby, tactically we played well.”

The Sharks lost last year’s corresponding fixture at this very venue to the Lions, but there was to be no repeat of that result as the home team ran into a 13-0 lead in virtually as many minutes.

The visitors, to their credit, hit back with a Jaque Fourie try, but another scoring spree from the Sharks saw them into a 26-7 half-time lead and it was effectively game over, despite a brave attempted fightback from the Lions in the second half. Muller, one of 11 Boks in the Sharks’ starting XV, enthused: “This is a different year, a different

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