The same two teams that contested the 2020 final were in action again at the end of the 2021 season, but unlike the last time, when the winner was only determined after 100 minutes of nail-biting rugby, the Vodacom Bulls simply had too much class for the Cell C Sharks at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday evening.
The hosts outscored their opponents by six tries to one, scoring three five-pointers on either side of the break to ensure they never lost control of the match.
The points difference of 34 was also bigger than the previous record of 30, set by the Vodacom Bulls (then still called Northern Transvaal) when they beat DHL Western Province, 39-9, in the final in 1980.
It was also the first time since the early 2000s that a team managed to successfully defend the Carling Currie Cup title, when the Vodacom Bulls won it outright for three straight seasons (2002, 2003 and 2004).
“That was probably close to a perfect performance, based on the fact that we took chances when they were given to us, and when questions were asked of us, we made the right reads,” said Jake White, the Vodacom Bulls’ Director of Rugby.
“I’m very proud of the fact that it’s a back-to-back result. This union is an incredibly proud rugby union. We want to be the best club. We want to make sure that we create a bit of a legacy, and we are very thankful for what’s happened before.
“Let’s not forget that players before us have had exactly the same successes, and that’s probably why we can do what we do – because we have a bit of a legacy that’s been given to us.”
Sean Everitt, Cell C Sharks Head Coach, said: “Our fundamentals let us down tonight, that's something we can take home and work on. If you look at our team as a collective, it was really just that we got the small things wrong, and they had massive consequences.
“I really thought we let in three very soft tries that made it very tough for us to get back into the game. It was disappointing.”
George Whitehead (Tafel Lager Griquas) finished the 2021 season as the top points’ scorer, with 165 points, and Evan Roos (DHL Western Province) and Simon Westraadt (New Nation Pumas) scored the most tries during the campaign, with eight each.
The Vodacom Bulls delivered a masterclass in Pretoria on Saturday as they beat the Cell C Sharks by 44-10 in the 2021 Carling Currie Cup final at Loftus Versfeld, setting a new points’ difference record for a final and earning provincial bragging rights for a second successive season.
The defending champions scored six tries to one as they clinched back-to-back victories in the oldest provincial competition in world rugby, and even the most hardened Cell C Sharks fan will have to admit that they witnessed a masterclass by the Vodacom Bulls.
The hosts were firmly in control at the break, leading by 19-3 and having already scored three sublime tries, but they delivered an even better second half performance.
The way the Vodacom Bulls first repelled the initial onslaught from the KwaZulu-Natalians, before exploding with a barrage of well-taken tries, justified their tag as the country’s premier side.
They simple absorbed the pressure applied by their opponents early on, showing their defensive superiority over the Cell C Sharks’ attack, whilst the Vodacom Bulls’ own attacking plan totally outclassed the visitors' defensive effort.
Vodacom Bulls 44 (19) – Tries: Harold Vorster, Lionel Mapoe, Marcell Coetzee, Janko Swanepoel, Zak Burger, Cornal Hendricks. Conversions: Chris Smith (4). Penalty goals: Smith (2).
Cell C Sharks 10 (3) – Try: Thomas du Toit. Conversion: Curwin Bosch. Penalty goal: Bosch.