Bulls wing Cornal Hendricks tries to beat a Western Province defender during their Currie Cup semi-final. Picture: Christiaan Kotze/BackpagePix
Bulls wing Cornal Hendricks tries to beat a Western Province defender during their Currie Cup semi-final. Picture: Christiaan Kotze/BackpagePix

Bulls ’make the right calls at the right time’ to put a smile on Jake White’s face

By Ashfak Mohamed Time of article published Sep 4, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - Jake White expressed his delight with the fluency of the Bulls’ attack in their 48-31 Currie Cup semi-final victory over Western Province at Loftus Versfeld on Friday night.

The Pretoria outfit were at their scintillating best in an enthralling first-half display as they ran Province ragged with a heady mixture of pace, power and panache to run in five tries that resulted in a 38-12 halftime lead.

ALSO READ: Blue Bulls blow Western Province away in first-half blitz to advance to Loftus Currie Cup final

Although WP kept pushing the envelope to get back into the game in the second half – with exciting wing Edwill van der Merwe scoring a hat trick – it was not enough to stop the light-blue tide that rumbled to victory.

Now White’s team are on course to defend the title they won in January in next Saturday’s final at Loftus Versfeld, where they will take on either the Sharks or Griquas, who will square off in the other semi-final at Kings Park at 5pm on Saturday.

“It’s difficult, as I suppose you can’t expect a team that’s still relatively new together to get a perfect 80 minutes. I was very happy with the way we played,” White said afterwards.

“We basically won the game in the first 25 to 30 minutes, and I think some of the plays that we ran were outstanding. The accuracy, the control, the understanding of when to call them – and that is also sometimes for coaches, you want to see players calling the right plays in the right parts of the field, and I thought that was outstanding.”

For WP coach John Dobson and his team, it was just a bridge too far after their superb performance against the Sharks in Durban last weekend.

Their forwards weren’t able to stop the giant Bulls pack in their tracks, which meant that the backline seldom got front-foot ball to put their opponents under pressure.

“The damage was done in those first 10 minutes – 17-0 down. And I think that was the winning margin in the end! The Bulls just physically overwhelmed us at the start of the game. We knew their runners off nine would be really big and mean, and they certainly played very well and took the game away from us, and we were in trouble for the rest of the game,” Dobson said.

“Absolute credit to them – a really big, well-drilled, physical team. I thought we tried our best to paste over the cracks, and showed a bit of character. I’m pleased for us for the way we showed character, and we were well-beaten.”

Now the Bulls will enjoy an extra day’s rest ahead of the final, while they can also have a good look at the Sharks and Griquas.

“I think recovery happens at any time, but now I think the job’s done. Now we can sit back and enjoy a weekend, and watch the game (in Durban) with interest,” White said.

“And it’s not just the one day – it’s the accumulative factor of what’s happened in the last six weeks for everybody. I looked at that Province side, and that’s the sixth game they’ve had to play in 27 days.

“So, it might not have been (that) one more day is significant, but to play six games in 27 days, it’s a cumulative effect of having to front up every weekend.

“I’m quite interested to see how Griquas go. They’ve rolled teams over. They’ve beaten the Sharks in Durban before, so it just shows you what a tough competition it is. Another day probably helps us psychologically as well.”

@ashfakmohamed

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