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Ending the fairytale


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Lions, Original Content, Sharks on 24 Oct 2011 at 10:51
Tagged with : , , , , , , ,

The major difference between real life and the stories we like to read to our kids to help them sleep is this: sometimes in real life, the good guys don’t win.

Let’s not beat around the bush here – the Lions’ Currie Cup campaign has the makings of a fairy-tale; a ragged, down and out bunch of no-hopers who have been moulded into a formidable unit by their enigmatic coach John Mitchell. In a competition where they never had any stars, they systematically dismantled virtually all opposition and continued their inexorable march to a first Currie Cup title in about 150 years by beating a start-studded WP team in the semi-finals.

“They said the return of the Boks would finish us… they were wrong!” You can almost see the byline now on the poster advertising the movie.

In this story, it’s the Lions – Josh Strauss, John Mitchell and supporting cast – who are the Hollywood style heroes. The Sharks have been inevitably cast as the villains – the arrogant crowd of big-name superstars determined to crush the underdog dream. For the Sharks and their fans this week, it’s vital not to get drawn into this overly emotional fairytale vibe and rather concentrate on winning the battle that really matters: the 80 minutes on the field.

There are a few reassuring historical factors pointing the Sharks way here. Firstly, in 4 finals to date between these teams, the home side has never won. Simply put, for a Sharks side playing against the Lions in the Currie Cup Final, you don’t want to be playing it in Durban. This team will look to emulate two of the best away finals performances we’ve yet seen, in which the 1992 and 1996 Natal/Sharks teams won the Currie Cup at Ellis Park.

Another interesting statistic reveals that the last time the Sharks won the cup as holders (that is, recorded back-to-back final wins) was against the Lions, in Johannesburg, in 1996. The previous year, the Sharks won in the final at Kings Park, against Western Province. This year’s Sharks stand to repeat history, having themselves won the Cup against Province in Durban in 2010.

None of the above ultimately matters, though. The Sharks will know that they have the beating of the Lions, particularly upfront, if they stick to what works for them and enforce their own game. Nothing really matters other than achieving that goal. Let’s worry about the fairytale endings – or the might-have-beens – after the final whistle.



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