When Super Rugby 2020 was suspended because of the global coronavirus crisis, few times would have been more upset than the Sharks.
The Durbanites, four-time losing finalists in the tournament, were top of the combined log having won six matches from seven, including three from four on their completed Australasian tour.
Under the leadership of new head coach Sean Everitt, the Sharks were looking incredibly dangerous on attack with the likes of Aphelele Fassi, Lukhanyo Am and Makazole Mapimpi in particularly good form.
Had the tournament progressed as normal, the Sharks would be hosting the Brumbies at Kings Park on Saturday in a fixture that would surely have been crucial in the context of the playoff race for both sides.
There has always been a strongly contested rivalry between these two sides and the Brumbies were particularly dominant in the early 2000s where they played in three finals and five semi-finals in a row.
In 2001, under the tutelage of Eddie Jones, the Brumbies became the first non-New Zealand side to win Super Rugby when they beat the Sharks 36-6 in Canberra.
The Sharks were completely outplayed on the day, but they found a way to stay in the contest in the first half and two Butch James penalties saw them go into half-time with the scores locked at 6-6.
The second half, though, was one-way traffic as Rudolf Straeuli’s men fell to pieces.
The Sharks had edged the Brumbies 17-16 in Durban in round two of the competition, but they were on the receiving end of a George Gregan masterclass as the Wallabies No 9 ran the game perfectly.
Flyhalf Stephen Larkham, too, was at his best as the Brumbies ran in three unanswered tries – wing Joe Roff scoring two.
The Sharks would have to wait until 2007 for their next Super Rugby final appearance where they were left heartbroken by the Bulls at Kings Park after THAT Bryan Habana try.
Below, we have included a highlights reel from Real Rugby of all the Super Rugby finals of the first decade between 1996 and 2005.
– Compiled by Lloyd Burnard