The men in Blue suffered a blow in the tunnel as Pieter Nel sustained a freak injury that prevented him from taking the field for the Currie Cup final against a fired-up Natal side who believed their time had come to lift the cup.
Natal stormed out to a nine point lead thanks to the boot of Joel Stransky but the Naas Botha led-side would fight back. Spinning it wide in a surprisingly expansive move that set Gerbrand Grobler away for the first try of the match, Northern Transvaal were level before a drop goal from Botha put them in front fifteen minutes into the second half.
A single missed tackle on the outside presented winger Tony Watson an opportunity to go in for a crucial score, he rounded the defense and in-goal drove towards the posts before dotting down, crucially making the kick easier and winning a penalty on halfway as Hendrick Kruger dived in on him after scoring.
Natal held onto that 18-12 advantage to claim their first Currie Cup. In 2003, the Bulls were defending the Currie Cup title won a year earlier and finished top of the standings with 11 round-robin wins in 14 matches for haul of 55 log points, with the Sharks second on 10 from 14 and a total of 52 points.
Bulls centre Ettienne Botha scored two tries, which equalled the record for tries scored in a Currie Cup final at the time. The hosts other tries were scored by Johan Roets, Gavin Passens and Fourie du Preez, while Louis Strydom added three conversions and three penalty goals.
The Sharks’ points came via tries from Deon Kayser, AJ Venter and Dave von Hoesslin, with Butch James converting two.