Trophy just reward for two years' work
Western Province coach Allister Coetzee felt their victory against the Sharks in the Currie Cup final on Saturday was “written in the stars”, saying it was the reward they had deserved after two years of hard work.
In a thrilling exhibition at Kings Park in Durban, the home side largely dominated the first half thanks to the boot of Patrick Lambie, who kicked all their points.
But centre Juan de Jongh's try four minutes from the interval shifted the momentum with the visitors, with WP going on to clinch their first title in 11 years with a 25-18 win.
“The commitment, brotherhood and trust came out strongly tonight,” an ecstatic Coetzee said afterwards.
“We've been playing well and doing all the right things for two years now.
“It was a matter of believing in the guy next to you, a matter of believing in the plan.
“The Sharks are a formidable side and we have a lot of respect for them in what they have been doing, but we knew our desire will be much more tonight.”
Province, underdogs for the clash, had their flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis to thank with two late drop goals proving vital in a superb 17-point total haul.
“I know a lot of guys wrote us off,” Coetzee added.
“I think we were the only bunch of players who believed we could win here today.
“We were in a very healthy position in that sense and I loved it so much that we would come here as underdogs and we knew all along that the character in this side is there.
"The plan is right. We've just got to keep doing what we're doing.”
The Province coach hailed his payers for the way they stuck to their game plan, especially after falling nine points back in the first half.
“We've been in that position before and the important thing was to back yourself and trust yourself,” he said.
“It was about not rushing or forcing things. Then late in the first half we put them under a bit of pressure with ball in hand.
“At halftime in the change room the whole feeling was this is ours.
"Go out and do the basics right. Put their set-piece under pressure and you saw what happened after that."
Sharks coach John Plumtree was visibly heartbroken after the match after a third successive final loss for his side – they were beaten in last year's showpiece and the Super Rugby decider earlier this year.
“To make two finals in the two major competitions we compete in and not get a gold medal…we're devastated,” Plumtree said.
It was a bitter pill to swallow for the home side, especially after coming into the final as overwhelming favourites and ending it with a fifth loss in their last seven Currie Cup finals.
Plumtree felt they were undone by failure at line-outs and some sound defence by their opponents.
“One of the things that really irritated me was that we never had the opportunity to really get our game going," Plumtree said.
“We had to win it differently. Tonight we couldn't play and just weren't on the money.”