Lambie, McLeod point way as Sharks stun Province
South Africa's fly half Patrick Lambie kicks a penalty on November 17, 2012
Fly-half Lambie kicked 23 points for the Durban outfit and scrum-half McLeod grabbed two tries before a 48,000 crowd at Newlands in Cape Town.
Province fly-half Demetri Catrakilis, seen as a potential match-winner, contributed 11 points before being forced off injured eight minutes into the second half.
Sharks entered the decider as underdogs after losing home and away against Province in the league phase, and having to face the unbeaten Cape Town side at their fortress.
But Province had no answer to the kick-and-chase game of McLeod while Lambie contributed 23 points for the second successive weekend despite missing three penalties.
Apart from the glory of winning the oldest rugby provincial championship in the world, Sharks pocketed $180,000 (135,000 euros) with prize money on offer for the first time.
While Lambie and McLeod played key roles, the official man-of-the-match award went to young Sharks lock Pieter-Steph du Toit.
Outstanding in the line-outs and a relentless pursuer of the ball in the loose and at the breakdowns, he epitomised the never-say-die spirit of the new champions.
"I am the luckiest man on earth," said the 21-year-old after receiving his award, and a first Springbok cap seems inevitable during the November tour to Wales, Scotland and France.
"We studied Province thoroughly this week and our game plan was perfect. It would be nice to play for the Springboks now."
Apart from the Lambie misses, Sharks had tries from left-wing Lwazi Mvovo and full-back SP Marais disallowed by referee Jonathan Kaplan, who wept after his last first-class match.
"We knew a good start was crucial," said Sharks No. 8 and skipper Keegan Daniel, "if we were to bring the Currie Cup back to Durban.
"The team peaked at the right time after making a disappointing start to the season by losing at home against Griquas."
Defeat was bitter for Province after an 11-match unbeaten run, and they were desperate to give centre Jean de Villiers and flanker Schalk Burger first Currie Cup winners medals.
They fell behind early on, were 10 points adrift within six minutes, trailed 19-13 at half-time, and could not pierce a superb Sharks defence after the break.
"It is so disappointing letting our supporters down after the role they played in getting us to the final," admitted Province flanker and skipper Deon Fourie.
"We had no answer to the kicking game of the Sharks, who pinned us in our own half for long periods of the game."
Lambie slotted an early penalty before McLeod intercepted a pass and sprinted 70 metres to claim a converted try.
Province hit back with centre Damian de Allende cutting between prop Jannie du Plessis and Mvovo to dot down and Catrakilis converted.
The three missed shots at goal did not demoralise Lambie, who kicked two penalties and a drop goal while Catrakilis replied with two penalties before half-time.
Catrakilis and Lambie exchanged penalties before replacement Province fly-half Kurt Coleman trimmed the deficit to 25-19 with his first shot at goal.
But that was the closest Province came with McLeod pouncing on a loose ball to dive over on 57 minutes and Lambie completed the scoring with a late penalty.