One of the world’s oldest rugby competitions reaches its conclusion this weekend as the winner of the Currie Cup is decided for the 80th time.
Western Province vs Sharks Prediction and Preview
This year’s showpiece sees the reigning champions Western Province bidding for their 35th title against the Sharks in a repeat of last year’s final So which team will prevail this time? Read our in-depth Currie Cup Final Preview to find out.
Head to Head
Since Western Province and Natal first met in the inaugural Currie Cup tournament in 1892, these two teams have been regular rivals in South African domestic rugby, but it is Western Province who have enjoyed more success, winning 34 Currie Cup titles to the Sharks’ 7.
Western Province have also dominated the fixture in recent years, winning seven of their last ten against the Sharks, including last season’s final, when they went into the game as underdogs but emerged with a 33-21 victory.
But over the years, the two sides have taken part in some memorable finals, including the last Currie Cup Final of the amateur in 1995, when Thierry Lacroix kicked Natal to victory, and the 2010 Final in which Pat Lambie established himself as a force. Perhaps the biggest upset in this fixture occurred in 2012 when a badly weakened Western Province defeated a Sharks side packed with internationals to win their first Currie Cup title in 11 years.
Ten Year Head to Head Record
Sep 2018: Western Province won 50-28 Newlands Stadium, Cape Town
Oct 2017: Western Province won 33-21 Kings Park Stadium, Durban
Oct 2017: Western Province won 31-20 Kings Park Stadium, Durban
Aug 2017: Sharks won 21-20 Newlands Stadium, Cape Town
Sep 2016: Western Province won 34-27 Newlands Stadium, Cape Town
Sep 2015: Western Province won 37-27 Kings Park Stadium, Durban
Oct 2014: Sharks won 28-20 Newlands Stadium, Cape Town
Oct 2013: Sharks won 33-19 Newlands Stadium, Cape Town
Oct 2013: Western Province won 17-13 Kings Park Stadium, Durban
Sep 2013: Western Province won 25-19 Newlands Stadium, Cape town
Finals are highlighted in bold
Western Province cruised through the Currie Cup season, with six wins in a row and maximum points, but they almost came unstuck in the semi-final against the Blue Bulls. They went into the game as the big favourites, but in a gripping game, the Bulls levelled up the match with a try at the hooter, only to miss the conversion, allowing Western Province to sneak through 35-32 after extra time. The drama of that game was in stark contrast to their smooth progress in the regular season, in which they picked up a bonus point in every game and ended with a points difference of 163.
The Sharks had a solid regular season, with their only defeat coming at the hands of this weekend’s opponents, and they warmed up for the play-offs with a comfortable 41-11 win over Griquas. In their semi-final against the Golden Lions, the final score line of 33-24 was probably not reflective of the balance of the match. The Sharks had been well on top in the first period and led 18-3 at the interval, and although the Lions mounted a strong second half comeback, another Sharks try sealed the game.
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Western Province received an injury blow this week with the news that scrum-half Paul de Wet won’t be available for the final due to an ankle injury. De Wet suffered the injury after coming on as a substitute in the semi-final and hasn’t yet recovered, which means 22-year-old Herschel Jantjies, who started last weekend, will play at Number 9 again. Jano Vermaak, who is recovering from a thumb injury, is also a doubt, and could be replaced by Justin Phillips.
There are no such worries for the Sharks squad, whose only injury concern this week was over winger Lwazi Mvovo, who picked up a knock last weekend, but has since been cleared to play.
The way that Western Province struggled to put away the Bulls in their semi-finals means that favourite backers will be a little uneasy as they contemplate odds of 7/15 about John Dobson’s team. Based on their respective semi-final performances, there certainly appears to be less of a gap between these teams than appeared to be the case during the regular season, and this is likely to be a tight final, in which two big, powerful packs battle for supremacy.
Western Province were given a 19 point handicap ahead of their semi-final but this time round the favourites will have to overcome a much more conservative 6 point gap. Still, that looks a touch high given how nervy they appeared in the semi-final, and given the history of this fixture, which has been won by the away side on three out of the last four occasions. It’s sure to be a close one, but I’m leaning towards the Sharks with a 6 point edge.
Back Sharks +6 at 10/11
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Please note betting odds quoted are correct at time of publication and are subject to change.