JOHANNESBURG (AFP) –
Sharks and Western Province won contrasting South African Currie Cup semi-finals Saturday to set up an October 27 title showdown in Durban.
Fly-half Patrick Lambie kicked five penalties from six attempts in slippery conditions before left wing and fellow Springbok Lwazi Mvovo dived over for the try that clinched a 20-3 home triumph for the Sharks over the Blue Bulls.
Only eight seconds remained when South Africa No 8 Duane Vermeulen was credited with the pushover try that gave Province a thrilling 21-16 away victory against defending champions Golden Lions.
Sharks, who were runners-up last season, enjoy home advantage in the final at the 50,000-seat Kings Park because they finished first in the 10-round league phase of the 120-year-old competition.
While a Sharks side captained by inspirational No 8 Keegan Daniel went about their business clinically in an often scrappy match, neutral spectators derived far more pleasure from the game at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.
Province led 6-3 at half-time in a contest that came alive after the break with the Lions taking a seven-point advantage when turnover ball inside their 22 led to a break that culminated in lock Michael Rhodes diving over.
Careless handling robbed Province of several potential tries before they hit back eight minutes from time when replacement full-back Joe Pietersen dotted down and just two points separated the teams.
A Pietersen penalty edged the Cape Town visitors ahead only for Lions fly-half Elton Jantjies, who had a rare place-kicking off-day with three misses out of six, kept his nerve to slot a penalty and it was 16-14 for the Lions.
But a Province team lacking injured Springbok skipper and centre Jean de Villiers and 2.08-metre lock Andries Bekker won a line-out and a driving maul set up Vermeulen to score with Pietersen converting.
There was no such drama in Durban as Sharks won more possession and territory almost throughout while the indisciplined Bulls conceded far too many penalties and did not threaten to score until nine minutes after half-time.
Bulls fly-half Morne Steyn, hoping to reclaim a place in the Springbok squad for November Tests in Ireland, Scotland and England after woeful place kicking led him to be axed this month, succeeded with his lone penalty attempt.