Sharks upset Western Province to lift Currie Cup

The Sharks celebrate winning the 2018 Currie Cup final at Newlands. Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

The Sharks upset the previously unbeaten Western Province 17-12 in the Currie Cup final at Newlands on Saturday afternoon.

For the second consecutive year the world's oldest domestic rugby competition was won by the away team as the travelling Sharks avenged last year's loss in Durban to the same opposition.

Western Province were unable to cross the line as the Sharks' defence held firm, despite the hosts' clear ascendency at scrum time. Their points came from the boots of SP Marais and Damian Willemse.

The visitors, on the other hand, dotted down twice through Akker van der Merwe and Tyler Paul to secure the win over the heavily favoured home team.

The first half was a scrappy affair with neither side able to put phases together on attack as mistakes were made aplenty by both sides throughout the opening 40 minutes.

The score remained unchanged for almost 20 minutes until one such mistake handed Western Province an early 3-0 lead via SP Marais' boot.

The first strike didn't seem to settle Western Province's nerves, though. The Sharks thought they had scored when Thomas du Toit crashed over after Aphelele Fassi claimed a Louis Schreuder high ball, but the TMO ruled that the ball was held up.

The visitors thought they had scored again just seconds later but, once again, the try was disallowed by the TMO as Daniel du Preez knocked the ball on.

The hosts extended their lead to six points as SP Marais kicked a second penalty, which is how the score remained at the end of an error-strewn first half from both teams.

The second half could not have started any different for the away team when they scored the final's first try.

Akker van der Merwe almost broke Western Province's line, but offloaded to Marius Louw to take the Sharks into the home team's 22. A number of phases later the hooker who started it all, van der Merwe, crashed over from close range. Robert du Preez converted to hand the Sharks the lead for the first time in the match.

It didn't take long for Chris van Zyl's team to hit back. SP Marais' boot yet again added to the hosts' tally.

The Sharks thought that they had responded just a minute later, but Daniel du Preez was found to have knocked the ball on over the line for a second time. They were awarded a penalty, though, which Robert du Preez converted to regain the lead.

With ten minutes left in the match the travelling Sharks weathered the storm of Western Province's attack before unleashing a clinical counter attack which led to Tyler Paul burrowing over from close point range. Robert du Preez converted the try to hand the Sharks an eight point lead.

Almost immediately after, Damian Willemse kicked his team's fourth penalty to narrow the deficit, but the Cape side were unable to score the try they needed before Robert du Preez hoofed the ball into touch to put the result beyond doubt.