Western Province win Currie Cup
Western Province claimed their first Currie Cup title since 2001 with a 25-18 win over the Sharks in Durban on Saturday.
Province centre Juan de Jongh scored the only try in a thrilling high-paced rematch of the 2010 final while fly-half Demetri Catrakilis contributed 17 points with the boot, including two drops goals.
De Jongh's try four minutes before the interval gave Western Province a 16-12 advantage at the halfway stage.
Sharks fly-half Patrick Lambie kicked all of his team's points and his first four penalties gave the hosts a nine-point lead before the visitors fought back.
Indeed, in the early stages it looked like the visitors from Cape Town would once again fall foul of Lambie's boot but - unlike the final two years ago when the home side dominated - WP took control in the second period, especially in the line-outs where Eben Etzebeth reigned supreme.
Catrakilis opened the scoring in the third minute with a penalty but the Sharks replied with a three-pointer of their own from Lambie 10 minutes later.
The Sharks pivot added three further penalties before Joe Pietersen - who came on as a replacement for the injured Bryan Habana in the 15th minute - landed a monster place kick, from just inside his half, to narrow the gap to six points in the 33rd minute.
Shortly afterwards De Jongh's try changed the flow of the game.
The Springbok midfielder's try was a superb solo effort which silenced the partisan home crowd.
De Jongh ran onto an inside pass from Catrakilis, midway between the Sharks' 22 and the halfway line, shrugged off the challenges of two Sharks defenders and beat Lwazi Mvovo with a deft side-step before scoring under the posts.
Catrakilis added the extras and on the stroke of half-time he slotted another penalty which gave the visitors a 16-12 lead at the break.
John Plumtree's charges were dominant in the scrums throughout and shortly after the break Lambie narrowed the gap to a point after WP's front-row infringed at a set piece.
Lambie added another penalty, after Frans Malherbe was penalised for not rolling away at ruck, midway through the half which put his side back in front.
Province then upped the ante and were camped close to the Sharks' try-line for long periods but could not breach the home side's defence.
Catrakilis added another penalty after the Sharks strayed offside at a ruck and he sealed the victory with two well-taken drop goals inside the final 15 minutes.
Man of the match: WP skipper Deon Fourie was given the official award while Demetri Catrakilis and Eben Etzebeth both deserve a mention, but we'll go for Juan de Jongh, who scored scintillating try and was a thorn in the Sharks' side from start to finish.
Moment of the match: The Sharks had a stranglehold on the match until De Jongh's moment of brilliance seemed to breathe life into the rest of his team-mates. Up to that point, WP's players - especially the forwards - seemed to be making up the numbers but they soon increased their intensity and gradually took control of proceedings.
Villain of the match: Nothing to report here. Both sides played hard but fair.
For the Sharks:
Pens: Lambie 6
For Western Province:
Try: de Jongh
Pens: Catrakilis 3
Drops: Catrakilis 2
The Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Keegan Daniel (c), 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Jandre Marais, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Meyer Bosman, 22 Odwa Ndungane.
Western Province: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Don Armand, 6 Deon Fourie (c), 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Deon Carstens, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 19 Jebb Sinclair, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Marcel Brache, 22 Joe Pietersen.
Referee: Jaco Peyper