MOST of the players in Saturday’s Currie Cup final had not been born when Western Province (WP) and the Golden Lions last met in a final, nearly 30 years ago, but the stakes remain the same.

The beautiful old trophy, first contested in 1892, is still the most prized title in South African rugby and this season the two best teams have progressed to the final.

Province coach Allister Coetzee was a relieved man on Thursday when he named No 8 Nizaam Carr and centre Jaco Taute in the starting line-up for the final at Newlands.

Both had been injury doubts for the showpiece event but Carr overcame a hip pointer injury and Taute a rib problem in time.

Taute is the only change to the starting team that beat the Blue Bulls 31-23 in last weekend’s semifinal, with Michael van der Spuy dropping to the bench.

History, though, is against the Lions and this century there have only been four away winners in 14 finals. But the away team won the past two finals, in 2012 and 2013.

Lock Gerbrandt Grobler is the other change to the squad, coming in for prop Oliver Kebble among the reserves, as Coetzee moved away from having dual prop cover. Carr’s inclusion in particular is a boost because he has been superb on defence, an effective ball carrier, and a vital link player between backs and forwards.

His good form and confidence will be a massive boost to the team as a whole.

In a match where defence steel will be the key, Carr’s tournament-leading 181 tackles underline his value to the team.

He also ranks fourth in ball carries and is the leader in that category of the players in the final.

"Nizaam is feeling very good and Jaco gives us fullback cover as well," Coetzee said.

Coming the other way, though, will be impressive Lions flank Jaco Kriel, who has been a phenomenal game-breaker for his team. Kriel leads in three categories this season — clean breaks, defenders beaten and tries scored (nine) — while he is second when it comes to turnovers (also nine).

History, though, is against the Lions and this century there have only been four away winners in 14 finals. But the away team won the past two finals, in 2012 and 2013.

These teams met in the first Currie Cup final in 1939 (between 1892 and 1938 the title was decided by points accumulated over the course of the season), with Transvaal, as the Lions were then known, winning 17-6 at Newlands.

The Second World War interrupted the competition until 1946, and in 1947 Western Province beat Transvaal 16-12 at Newlands.

Three years later it was the Joburgers who prevailed 22-11 at Ellis Park.

The two sides did not meet in a final again until 1986, when two late tries by WP centre Goggie van Heerden saw the Cape side take the title 22-9 at Newlands.

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