DHL Western Province and The Sharks on Saturday booked their places in the Absa Currie Cup final in Cape Town next week following well-deserved victories in their semifinals against the MTN Golden Lions and Toyota Free State Cheetahs respectively.
Defending champions, Western Province, automatically earned a home final with their 33-16 victory against the Lions at DHL Newlands after finishing the round-robin stages as the top team, while the Sharks defeated the Cheetahs 33-22 at Growthpoint Kings Park in Durban.
Next week’s match-up will mark the second successive showdown between the teams in the Absa Currie Cup final, while it will also mark the Sharks’ fourth successive final appearance.
In the other big match this weekend, GWK Griquas pipped the Steval Pumas 21-19 in their first Absa Currie Cup promotion-relegation clash in Kimberley on Friday.
The teams will meet again in Nelspruit next week to determine which side will participate in the Premier Division next year.
In the Absa Junior Provincial Championships, the Vodacom Blue Bulls and DHL Western Province Under-21 teams and the MTN Golden Lions and Vodacom Blue Bulls Under-19 teams booked their places in their respective finals next week.
These matches will be played in the build-up to the Absa Currie Cup final at DHL Newlands.
DHL Western Province (18) 33 / 16 (9) MTN Golden Lions:
Western Province marched into the 2013 Currie Cup final in emphatic fashion with a 33-16 win over the Golden Lions at Newlands on Saturday afternoon.
Province turned in a rousing first-half display to set the tone for the match and the Lions’ willingness to run with ball in hand at every opportunity made for a crowd-pleasing spectacle.
The Capetonians managed to cross the whitewash three times in the first half but only two efforts were approved after the TMO ruled a forward pass with their first attempt.
Lions flyhalf Elton Jantjies and his Province counterpart Demetri Catrakilis opened the scoring in the match with penalties in the opening 11 minutes.
Province fullback Gio Aplon crashed through the Lions defence for a 17th minute touchdown but it was not awarded.
The hosts’ exuberance proved too much to contain and as a result Catrakilis and Aplon ran in tries, one of which was converted. Catrakilis added a late first-half penalty to wrap up a 15-point haul.
At the other end of the field Jantjies added two more penalties to keep his side in the match, as the teams changed ends with Province leading 18-9.
There was more of the same when the second half got underway and the Lions were under the cosh for sustained periods.
Province ran the ball fluently to both sides of the park but could not find a way through after 20 minutes of sustained attacking.
Instead, they settled for an additional six points courtesy of Catrakilis whose two penalty strikes took extended their lead to 24-9 for a comfortable 15-point advantage.
From around the 66th minute Province seemed to take the foot off the pedal after their bench, including Schalk Burger, joined the fray.
It may have cost the home side some momentum while at the same time the Lions managed to transfer play to the Province half.
They made little headway and eight minutes from the end Catrakilis struck his fifth penalty in the match to stretch the lead to 27-9.
Moments later Province hooker Scarra Ntubeni was yellow carded for dangerous play and no sooner had he left the field when the Lions snatched their first try through eighthman Warren Whitely, with Marnitz Boshoff converting (27-16).
Substitute Kurt Coleman put the final result beyond doubt with two penalties for the hosts in the final two minutes.
Tries: Demetri Catrakilis (1), Gio Aplon (1)
Conversion: Demetri Catrakilis (1)
Penalties: Demetri Catrakilis (5), Kurt Coleman (2).
Try: Warren Whitely (1)
Conversion: Marnitz Boshoff (1)
Penalties: Elton Jantjies (3)
The Sharks (16) 33 / 22 (7) Toyota Free State Cheetahs:
The Sharks booked a place in the Currie Cup final against Western Province at Newlands when they beat the Cheetahs 33-22 at Kings Park in Durban.
Patrick Lambie scored 23 points including one of three tries for his side, adding to scores by Jacques Botes and Heimar Williams.
The flyhalf also kicked four penalties and three conversions as the coastal side ensured a repeat of last year’s final, although Cape Town will play host in 2013.
Their opponents from Bloemfontein gave them a good go with three tries of their own through Lappies Labuschagne, Johann Sadie and Schalk van der Merwe, but were punished by the clinical hosts.
The Free Staters began with a bang by crossing the try-line inside three minutes after the start when SP Marais clearance kick went horribly wrong and allowed Philip van der Walt to pop a pass up to Labuschagne to score.
The Sharks hit back in the seventh minute when visiting captain Adriaan Strauss conceded a penalty at the scrum, with Lambie sending over the three points.
Smit had a chance to restore the seven-point lead before the first quarter mark when Wiehahn Herbst conceded a penalty for illegal binding at the scrum, but the Cheetahs winger sent his effort wide.
Lambie returned the favour, though, and fluffed a straightforward chance when Boom Prinsloo was off-side not long after.
The Sharks pivot did not make the same mistake twice, and after Prinsloo failed to release in the tackle, he slotted over the penalty to cut the gap to one.
Two minutes before the interval, Lambie put the Sharks ahead when he collected a quick ball from Charl McLeod and slipped inside through two tacklers on his way to running in under the post.
With the siren looming, Strauss was penalised for another error, this time for not rolling away right in front of his goal-line, allowing Lambie to extend the lead to nine by the break.
Johan Goosen continued his comeback from a long injury layoff when he was introduced after the interval and he scored the opening points of the second half with a penalty conversion.
Botes, however, extended the lead for the hosts when he broke a few tackles in the 51st minute to score on the right of the posts after Marcell Coetzee carried strongly and provided the crucial pass for his fellow loose forward.
The Cheetahs were reduced to 14 men before the hour when scrumhalf Piet van Zyl was sent to the sin bin for a deliberate trip on Marais.
Lambie then extended the lead in the 63rd minute after Van der Merwe was called for collapsing the scrum, before the numbers levelled up again when Bismarck du Plessis was yellow carded for stamping.
From the resulting scrum, the ball was quickly spun left with Robert Ebersohn sending Sadie away to give the Cheetahs hope.
That optimism was quickly killed off when Williams was one of a number of players free on the left to dart over to wrap up the win.
Even though Van der Merwe added a late score, it turned out to be only a consolation as the Durbanites booked their ticket to Newlands next week.
Tries: Patrick Lambie (1), Jacques Botes (1), Heimar Williams (1)
Conversions: Patrick Lambie (3)
Penalties: Patrick Lambie (4)
Free State Cheetahs
Tries: Lappies Labuschagne (1), Johann Sadie (1), Schalk van der Merwe (1)
Conversions: Riaan Smit (1), Johan Goosen (1)
Penalty: Johan Goosen (1)