He didn’t win the Currie Cup all on his own but hats off to debut season Sharks coach Brad MacLeod-Henderson for his worthy contribution to the 2013 success story. In the process he probably achieved a first in the professional age by making the switch from a schoolboy rugby coach at Hilton College in the Natal Midlands to professional rugby cup winning head coach in less than four months.
The Sharks beat Western Province 33-19 at Newlands in front of a packed stadium to claim their seventh Currie Cup title in their 123 year history. On the evening the cup winners from 1990, 1992, 1995, 1996, 2008, 2010 and now 2013 came up with the superior game strategy and execution when the BMT mattered most. A very physical game at to the breakdowns where the Sharks often arrived quickly and in numbers was a major plus factor. WP committed the cardinal sin of conceding points almost immediately after scoring their own during the first half. Province really struggled to cope with the relentless pressure. WP assistant coach Robbie Fleck described his team’s “exiting” as below standard at half time. Things however got worse not better. The Sharks suffocated Province and in particular the home team’s dangerous back three players who were made to look quite ordinary at times during the final. Although it was still anybody’s game at the break with the Sharks leading 19-13, it really only looked like there was one team on the park for most of the second half. Excellent contesting at the lineouts by the Sharks meant that Province couldn’t build much needed platforms for attacks of their own. The Sharks added two second half tries to their one of the first half and in the end they were unfortunate not to have scored a couple more in that second stanza.
In a performance like this just about all the players on the winning team are heroes as a team effort won the day. That said several Sharks really stood out. Young lock Pieter-Steph du Toit had a night to remember, producing a Man of the Match performance. Centre Francois Steyn reminded all of what a good player he can be. Hooker Bismarck du Plessis who probably should have missed this game through suspension, made his presence count at the rucks. Charl Macleod came up with inspirational plays. Lambie may have faulted with the boot from the kicking tee in the first half but he never allowed this to shake his confidence and even slotted two drop kicks.
Well done to Brad, the rest of the coaching staff and the Sharks Currie Cup winning team of 2013.