Home-ground advantage ought to be the decisive factor when it comes to Saturday’s Currie Cup final between the Bulls and the Sharks at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.
In that sense, the Bulls will be the favourites – which, to an extent, they already are – having finished top of the log. But it is, of course, not so clear-cut, as just last week the Sharks travelled to Cape Town and dumped Western Province out of the competition.
A trip down memory lane and a look at the last 10 finals show us the home team have won “just” six of them, so it really is anyone’s game on match-day.
And in a somewhat surprising twist, in all four of the wins by the visiting team, the Sharks have been involved – winning two and losing two, with all four battles involving Western Province as their opponents.
It all started in 2012 when Province shocked the Sharks 25-18 at Kings Park with former Springbok centre Juan de Jongh scoring a telling try for the Province team in Durban.
However, the next year the Sharks returned the favour by beating Province 33-19 at Newlands with scrumhalf Charl McLeod the big hero with two tries.
In the other two away wins, flyhalf Robert du Preez played a decisive role – first in 2017 and then again the next year when he changed his “spots”.
In 2017 Du Preez played a key role with his boot to help Province to a 33-21 win over the Sharks in Durban, but having moved to Durban in 2018 he played another vital role, but this time for the Sharks as they shocked Province 17-12 in Cape Town.
Normality for the home teams, however, returned in six of the other finals with the Sharks winning in 2010, the Lions in 2011 and 2015, Province in 2014, and the Cheetahs in 2016 and 2019.
In the Lions’ two wins in recent times, flyhalf Elton Jantjies was the star in 2011, while scrumhalf Ross Cronje stole the show in 2015 with two great tries.
In 2010 Pat Lambie was the big star for the Sharks and who could ever forget the bump-off of Schalk Burger on his way to a great try?
In 2014 Lions flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff missed a last-minute penalty which would have sent the game into extra time, but instead Province won by the narrowest of margins.
In the Cheetahs’ wins over the Blue Bulls and the Lions in 2016 and 2019 respectively great team efforts were required, with flyhalf Neil Marais’ boot in 2016 the vital factor and hooker Joseph Dweba the star in 2019.
Who will emerge as the big star this weekend?
Results of the last 10 Currie Cup finals:
2010: Sharks bt Western Province 30-10, Durban.
2011: Lions bt Sharks 42-16, Joburg
2012: Western Province bt Sharks 25-18, Durban
2013: Sharks bt Western Province 33-19, Cape Town
2014: Western Province bt Lions 19-16, Cape Town
2015: Lions bt Western Province 32-24, Joburg
2016: Cheetahs bt Blue Bulls 36-16, Bloemfontein
2017: Western Province bt Sharks 33-21, Durban
2018: Sharks bt Western Province 17-12, Cape Town
2019: Cheetahs bt Lions 31-28, Bloemfontein