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Sharks' long journey to the final



Sharks left-winger Lwazi Mvovo makes a break during the game against the Stormers.

Sharks left-winger Lwazi Mvovo makes a break during the game against the Stormers. Photo: Getty Images

SOUTH Africa's Sharks have criss-crossed the globe to reach the Super Rugby decider and now face one last, long journey to take on the Waikato-based Chiefs in the first final played in Hamilton.

The Sharks were forced to travel 11,000 kilometres from Durban to Brisbane for their quarter-final win over defending champion Queensland and, having passed that formidable obstacle, flew another 11,000 to Cape Town where, on Saturday, they beat the top-ranked Stormers 26-19.

Already travel-weary, the Sharks will this week rack up a further 11,000 kilometres to Auckland, followed by a 120-kilometre bus trip to Hamilton on NZ's North Island where the Chiefs lie in wait.

The Sharks defended with courage to hold out a late comeback by the Stormers, who seemed out of the match when J.P. Pietersen's try gave the Sharks a 14-point lead with 20 minutes remaining.

But Gio Aplon scored for the Stormers seven minutes later and the home team pressed relentlessly for the try that would have levelled the scores.

The visitors held on to complete an astonishing late-season comeback.

They seemed almost out of the reckoning with only weeks remaining in the regular season but they won three of their past four matches, beating both the Stormers and three-time champions the Bulls to grab the sixth and last play-off place.

They then toppled the Australian and South African conference winners to reach the final and must now beat the New Zealand conference champion to clinch their first title.

Coach John Plumtree said the Sharks had resolved during the break in the Super Rugby schedule for June Test matches to throw everything into a last-ditch bid to make the finals.

''The team started believing in themselves about 20 to 30 per cent more than when we were playing before the international break,'' Plumtree said.

''We were already playing knockout rugby, basically, several weeks ago so it hardened us, and the leadership grew with that. To go to Queensland and win last week and then come here to do it again was always going to be a huge task.''


HuffPost Australia

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 0vs TGA 0 00:30KPS
IRE 0vs ITA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45KPS
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00KPS
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 3 3 0 0 97 13
Wales 3 3 0 0 58 13
England 3 1 2 0 1 6
Fiji 3 0 3 0 -49 0
Uruguay 2 0 2 0 -107 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 3 2 1 0 56 11
Scotland 3 2 1 0 40 10
Japan 3 2 1 0 -12 8
Samoa 3 1 2 0 -52 4
USA 2 0 2 0 -32 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 3 3 0 0 87 14
Tonga 2 1 1 0 7 6
Argentina 2 1 1 0 35 5
Georgia 3 1 2 0 -71 4
Namibia 2 0 2 0 -58 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
France 3 3 0 0 72 14
Ireland 2 2 0 0 77 10
Italy 2 1 1 0 -17 4
Canada 3 0 3 0 -71 1
Romania 2 0 2 0 -61 0
View all

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