STAT ATTACK: The Sharks may have made 9 tackle breaks, but losing the dominant hit rate by 22, while coughing up the ball regularly saw visitors WP to a comfortable win.
So after 12 rounds of league action, the Sharks will host the Blue Bulls in one Currie Cup semi-final, while Western Province will host the Golden Lions in the other.
With a likely result being a final that will be a replay of the fairly scrappy affair staged at Kings Park on the weekend
The Sharks came into the match off a bye, knowing that as the top team on the log they were guaranteed a home semi-final regardless of the result, and as such looked a bit like a side with the foot off the pedal. Especially in the second half, sans strong man Thomas du Toit, who they lost to injury, and with WP discard, Kobus van Wyk – normally a wing, playing at outside centre.
Four tries in 17 minutes by the visitors steered the Capetonians to a bonus-point 31-20 victory and an invaluable home semi-final, with flyhalf Robert du Preez’s contribution of 21 points thanks to his two tries, four conversions and penalty goal proving to be instrumental.
But 64 handling errors and 16 penalties between the two sides tells a story – it was no oil painting!
The match stats were fairly evenly matched, and while the home side enjoyed more carries, offloads, line and tackle breaks, it was the visitors who were a little more effective, making more meters per carry, and passing more accurately.
The kicking stats were also similar, as were the tackle efficiency rates.
The two key differentiators came in the form of handling errors and dominant tackles. The Sharks made a whopping 37 handling errors, perhaps as a result of the 32 dominant tackles that WP put in!
They may have made 9 tackle breaks, but losing the dominant hit rate by 22, while coughing up the ball 10 times more than the opposition is always going to hurt!
And with three of WP’s tries coming round the fringe of the breakdown, the Sharks are going to want to sharpen up on their pillar defence come the playoffs.
Sharks 20 (13) – 31 (3) Western Province
Sharks – Tries: Marius Louw, Kobus van Wyk. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (2). Penalty Goal: Curwin Bosch. Drop Goal: Curwin Bosch.
Western Province – Tries: JD Schickerling, Dewaldt Duvenage, Robert Du Preez (2). Conversions: Robert Du Preez (4). Penalty Goal: Robert Du Preez.