Rudolph Jacobs
Rugby Journalist
3 minute read
29 Jan 2021
6:28 pm

Bulls versus Sharks: A rich history of Currie Cup finals

Rudolph Jacobs

Over the years, four Currie Cup finals have taken place between the Bulls and the Sharks, with each team winning twice.

The Bulls and the Sharks will meet for the fifth time in the Currie Cup final this weekend. Picture: Gallo Images

A rich history exists between the Bulls and the Sharks and if previous clashes between the teams tell us anything, it’s that nothing is ever certain or guaranteed when they clash on the rugby field.

The Bulls may be at home at their beloved Loftus Versfeld, but they won’t have their fanatical fans behind them on this occasion while the Sharks are full of confidence after picking up a good win away from home in Cape Town last week.

Here then, ahead of Saturday’s 3pm kickoff in the 2020 Currie Cup final, is a look back at how things went down between the teams in the four previous finals between them.

1956: Northern Transvaal beat Natal 9-8

The game was played at Kingsmead cricket grounds and Natal held a lead of 8-6 at half-time in their first ever final.

It was a tight contest with tries for Northerns being scored by wing Willa Esterhuizen and flank Schalk van Dyk, while wing Dolf Bekker kicked a drop goal.

Natal’s only try was scored by wing Gavin Duffy, while centre Roy Dryburgh kicked one penalty and added a conversion.

In those days the home team were still required to provide the match official, and the referee was Bawden Coombie.

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1990: Natal beat Northern Transvaal 18-12

Northerns centre Pieter Nel tore a hamstring when he ran out at Loftus Versfeld and Natal caught the hosts off guard by naming a third lock in Steve Atherton on the flank just prior to kick-off.

Still regarded as one of the biggest upsets in the history of the Currie Cup, Natal went on to earn their first title.

A late try by Natal wing Tony Watson was followed by a Joel Stransky penalty after a Northerns player dived knee-first on Watson, while Stransky added a conversion and three more penalties.

Fullback Gerbrandt Grobler scored Northerns’ try and added a penalty, while Naas Botha scored a drop goal and a conversion.

Naas Botha

Northerns legend Naas Botha kicked a drop goal and a conversion but it was not enough to help his team beat Natal in the 1990 Currie Cup final. Picture: Wessel Oosthuizen/Gallo Images

2003: Blue Bulls beat Natal Sharks 40-19

The Blue Bulls were already in control, leading 18-7 at half-time at Loftus, when the Sharks were shown two yellow cards to flyhalf Butch James and prop Ollie le Roux.

Blue Bulls centre Ettienne Botha, who tragically died a few years later, was the star of the show after scoring two tries, while the other tries were scored by scrum-half Fourie du Preez, wing Gavin Passens and fullback Johan Roets. Flyhalf Louis Strydom added three conversions and three penalties.

For the Sharks, tries were scored by flank AJ Venter, scrum-half Dave von Hoesslin and centre Deon Kayser, while James added two conversions.

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2008: Sharks beat Blue Bulls 14-9

In a titanic battle in Durban, the Sharks were full value for their first Currie Cup title in 12 years, scoring the only two tries of the game through scrum-half Ruan Pienaar and centre Frans Steyn.

Pienaar added one conversion and their French flyhalf Freddie Michalak the other.

The Bulls had to be satisfied with two penalties and a drop goal from flyhalf Morne Steyn.

The Bulls were captained by Bok legend Victor Matfield and the Sharks by lock Johann Muller, while the victorious World Cup Bok skipper of the previous year John Smit came on only as a replacement for hooker Bismarck du Plessis in the 71st minute.

Ruan Pienaar

Ruan Pienaar scores a try for the Sharks in the 2008 Currie Cup final. Picture: Gallo Images

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