Western Province claimed their first Currie Cup since 2001 with a gritty 25-18 victory over the Sharks in a tense final at Kings Park on Saturday.
If you have a hat, use it. If you support Western Province, throw it in the air. If you are anybody else, doff it to the young Western Province team that was so deserving of this thrilling victory, one so unexpected.
If you are one of those Cape Town people who said quitely, late at night, 'I've got a funny feeling that Province are going to win', sing it out loud now. It was one of the great Currie Cup wins, all the greater for being so unexpected - just an outside chance, a great man said -a 25% chance.
That is all about the rejoicing and winning the Currie Cup is about rejoicing. It was ever so. When first it arrived in Cape Town in 1891 it was put on display in a jeweller's store in Adderley Street. It should again be on display for all Capetonians to enjoy it as it comes flying home for the first time since 2001.
There is also a lot to say about a thrilling, lively, fascinating match. There was only one try but that did not in any way take away the lustre of this intense, skilled encounter.
There were two sad aspects to the match - that there was a loser, there is a chasm between winning and losing a final, and that there was such a meagre crowd.
From the first whistle to the last, it was an edge-of-your-seat match. It started with breathtaking speed and intensity and ended with a crowd roaring itself hoarse as the Sharks battled for survival. It was a great final. Never again let anybody say that any rugby player is too young.
Western Province won some vital ball in this match. The Sharks threw into nine line-outs and Western Province won six of them. Deon Fourie and Duane Vermeulen won some vital turnovers. The Sharks destroyed one Western Province scrum and then Western Province destroyed two of theirs.
Rugby is about attack and defence. The net of the Western Province defence kept the Sharks out for the whole match, including on two occasions when they looked about to score, one in each half. Western Province also attacked and came close to scoring but it was the coruscating brilliance of their try, one of the brightest Currie Cup jewels ever, that may just have paid for the victory in its own moment of brilliance.
That try seemed to rattle the Sharks and in the end it was Western Province's young warriors who showed the greater composure. In fact after the try and increasingly in the second half, the Sharks looked rattled.
In the first half an hour of the match it seemed that the Sharks would steadily accumulate points and win. Early on Willem Alberts was penalised at a tackle and Demetri Catrakilis goaled. 3-0 after 2 minutes. Juan de Jongh obstructed and Pat Lambie goaled. 3-3 after 4 minutes.
Then came the Sharks' first chance to score. Paul Jordaan skated round on the outside of Bryan Habana and passed inside to big JP Pietersen who seemed to have a clear path to the line but Habana felled him from behind.
The Sharks stayed on the attack till Fourie won a crucial turnover, but Habana was penalised at a tackle and Lambie made it 6-3 after 13 minutes. At that tackle Habana was so injured that he left the field, replaced for the match by Joe Pietersen who played a vital part in the victory.
Western Province attacked but JP Pietersen intercepted and booted downfield. Joe Pietersen saved in his own 22 but was penalised in hanging on. 9-3 after 17 minutes. When the Western Province scrum fell down Skarra Ntubeni was penalised and Lambie made it 12-3 after 27 minutes. The Sharks were marching methodically to victory.
Then the Western Province fortunes started to change with a quick burst of 13 points in seven minutes.
First Jannie du Plessis charged an opponent with a shoulder. 12-6 and then came the brightest star in the Durban night.
Juan de Jongh flew out of line and into Jordaan as the Sharks built a promising attack. Jordaan dropped the ball, producing a scrum on about the Sharks' 10-metre line on the Western Province right. They won the scrum and Catrakilis ran to his left. He did a sudden switch with De Jongh and the outside centre cut past Cobus Reinach and Marcell Coetzee. He firmly handed off Keegan Daniel and sped down the middle of the field, wrong-footing and cleanly beating Lwazi Mvovo to score under the posts.
Catrakilis converted and you had to blink to clear your vision to see that Western Province really were in the lead. Five minutes later Western Province attacked again, Lambie was offside in trying to stop a Catrakilis drop attempt (which was just wide) and Catrakilis made the half-time score 16-12.
It was incredible.
The Sharks started the second half with promise when Lambie chipped and Tim Whitehead gathered but Coetzee knocked on. That produced a a scrum for Western Province and the Sharks destroyed them. Western Province were penalised in this destruction and Lambie made it 16-15 after 43 minutes.
The Sharks launched a massive attack, hurling their heavies at the Western Province line -Du Plessis, Louis Ludik, Alberts, Coetzee but still the line held., Western Province were penalised and the Sharks, mindful of their earlier overpowering scrum, opted for a five-metre scrum but this time the Western Province, boys and all, held firm.
That may just have lowered Shark morale but Alberts was again close and Mvovo was tackled out at the corner. Then Frans Malherbe was penalised for not rolling away at a tackle as bulky Steven Sykes lay on his midriff. Lambie put the Sharks back in front - 18-16 after 56 minutes.
Then Western Province attacked. They were close and, from a scrum, Catrakilis was even closer. Still they got an easy penalty and Catrakilis made it 19-18.
It was agony if you supported any side.
A burst from a tackle/ruck by Fourie and a poor kick by Ludik had Western Province on the attack in phases till they passed back to Catrakilis who dropped a soaring goal. 22-18 with 15 minutes to play.
Western Province had an attacking line-out but Jandré Marais beat De Kock Steenkamp to the ball. Then Joe Pietersen was short with a long penalty attempt.
Western Province won a Sharks scrum and attacked in phases. Again they played back to Catrakilis and this time, with his left foot, he kicked a low, unconvincing dropped goal. 25-18 with four minutes to play.
The Sharks needed a try. They worked their way downfield but Fourie won a turnover. Western Province mauled from a line-out but suddenly the Sharks broke out on the right. Joe Pietersen kept Ludik believing he would tackle him and did tackle Charl McLeod when Ludik passed to him. McLeod popped to Lambie but Catrakilis flew into him and the ball was knocked on.
That gave Western Province a scrum as the clock went past the 80-minute mark. They won the scrum, the siren went and Western Province lost the ball to the Sharks who then went on frenzied attack. Two and a half minutes into injury time Kyle Cooper knocked on and Western Province had the Currie Cup.
Man of the Match: There were candidates such as Eben Etzebeth who destroyed the Sharks' line-out and much besides, Juan de Jongh for his flying defence and his flying try, industrious Skarra Ntubeni and our choice Deon Fourie, captain courageous.
Moment of the Match: Juan de Jongh's try, a bright and precious diamond.
Villain of the Match: Nobody.
For the Sharks:
Pens: Lambie 6
For Western Province:
Try: De Jongh
Pens: Catrakilis 3, Pietersen
DG: Catrakilis 2
Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Keegan Daniel (captain), 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Jandré Marais, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Meyer Bosman, 22 Odwa Ndungane.
Western Province: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Don Armand, 6 Deon Fourie (captain), 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Deon Carstens, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 19 Jebb Sinclair, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Marcel Brache, 22 Joe Pietersen.
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant referees: Christie du Preez, Stefan Breytenbach
TMO: Johann Meuwesen