Beast Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis and Marcell Coetzee celebrate Saturday's Super Rugby semi-final win over the Stormers at Newlands. Picture: Steve Haag/ Gallo Images
The Sharks’ magnificent Super Rugby run continued in Cape Town on Saturday when they qualified for their fourth final by beating the DHL Stormers 26-19.
The men from KwaZulu-Natal have now won eight from their last nine matches, including last weekend’s qualifier over the Reds in Brisbane and Saturday’s semi-final victory over the home team.
Because of the travel factor, many experts thought the Sharks would struggle against the South African Conference winners and the team that finished top of the log. That was not the case, though, as the Stormers could not match the physical intensity of the Sharks.
Captain Keegan Daniel and his team did not stray from their winning recipe of the past month and will now have an opportunity to win their first-ever Vodacom Super Rugby title after the Sharks lost in the finals of 1996 (to the Blues playing as Natal), 2001 (to the Brumbies) and 2007 (to the Vodacom Bulls).
“It was definitely a fantastic result, the boys were just outstanding,” coach John Plumtree said. “It needed to be a brave performance from us, the Stormers are such a tough side and we knew they were going to throw so much at us. Physically it was very close but that’s what happens in these derby games. I’m proud of the way the boys held on in the end.”
To lift the trophy against the Chiefs in Hamilton though, the Sharks will have to do what has only been achieved once in the history of Vodacom Super Rugby – win a final in another country. In 2000, the Crusaders travelled to Canberra where they beat the Brumbies by 20-19.
However, Plumtree said they believed they could defy the odds once again.
“No-one will be backing us in the final but with this group, you never know. I hope all the Sharks supporters out there are really proud of this group, they’ve tried hard and it’s going to be a big exam for us in New Zealand, a tough place to win, but we’ll give it our best shot."
The Sharks: 26 (13)
Tries: Louis Ludik, JP Pietersen
Conversions: Fred Michalak (2)
Penalties: Fred Michalak (2)
Drop-Goals: Fred Michalak (2)
Stormers: 19 (6)
Tries: Gio Aplon
Conversions: Peter Grant (1)
Penalties: Peter Grant (4)