HomeSportRugbySharks win would surpass everything

Sharks win would surpass everything

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HAMILTON — The debilitating effects of travel fatigue will see them start as overwhelming underdogs, but it is the odds stacked against them that will enable the 15 players who take the field for the Sharks in today’s Super Rugby final in Hamilton to do motivated by the knowledge they are on the cusp of their union’s greatest achievement ever.

The 1990 win by Natal in the Currie Cup final against Northern Transvaal, the upset win by Wynand Claassen’s team against Northerns 10 years before that, the draws in 1924 and 1960 against the British Lions and the All Blacks respectively, the stupendous win over Transvaal from being 23-4 down with eight minutes to go in Johannesburg in 1973 — all of those legendary parts of Natal/Sharks rugby history will pale into insignificance if Keegan Daniel’s team somehow beat the Chiefs.

That will be the motivation for them to put in one last lift of effort in an attempt to defy the accepted view that teams that have flown from west to east across the time-zones from South Africa to New Zealand are at a serious disadvantage.

They’ve already gone part of the way towards exposing the myth, if that is what it is, for few would have expected them to go to Brisbane and Cape Town in successive weeks and win big play-off games.

But a trip to Australia and back is small fry compared to a trip to Australia and back, and then a trip back to Australia followed by the hop across the Tasman Sea to the north island of New Zealand. If it was just the one journey that the Sharks had to take then their chances would be a lot more realistic. The Stormers, in thrashing the Highlanders in faraway New Zealand just a week after a tough game against the Bulls in Cape Town, showed the way on the Easter weekend.

And the Crusaders did something similar when a week later they flew from Pretoria home to Christchurch to beat what was then a very powerful Stormers team that had yet to suffer the injuries that eventually forced them to play a hooker at No 8.

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