The Bulls celebrate their Carling Currie Cup fina win over the sharks . Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images via BackpagePix
The Bulls celebrate their Carling Currie Cup fina win over the sharks . Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images via BackpagePix

Jake White: Bulls got their reward for moving Sharks around

By Ashfak Mohamed Time of article published Feb 1, 2021

Share this article:

CAPE TOWN - The Bulls’ commitment to varying their play on attack and stretching the Sharks’ defence in the first half played a major role in their last-gasp 26-19 victory in the Currie Cup final.

The home side trailed 13-9 at half-time at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday following a sucker-punch try just before the break by Sbu Nkosi, who finished off a classy setpiece move from a 22-metre scrum after Morné Steyn had kicked his drop-out straight into touch.

It was a dreadful end to a bizarre first half that had been suspended for about 40 minutes due to a lightning threat, with the score at 6-3 to the Bulls in the 24th minute.

To add to the drama, Steyn had missed a shot at the posts, while Curwin Bosch had wasted three attempts of his own.

But the Bulls had started with wonderful endeavour on attack.

They employed a useful party trick of passing the ball off the ground immediately whenever there was a tackle, in order to neutralise the Sharks’ breakdown threat.

Man of the Match Cornal Hendricks was prominent with ball in hand – although coach Jake White noted that the No 12 had been caught out a few times by the Sharks’ rush defence – while wings Stravino Jacobs and Kurt-Lee Arendse were also brought into the game.

They weren’t rewarded for their scrum dominance either by referee Jaco Peyper, with Lizo Gqoboka getting the upper hand on tighthead Thomas du Toit.

But all of that drained the Sharks’ energy, and led to them dropping off tackles in extra-time, which the Bulls finished off in style with an 18-phase touchdown by Arno Botha to clinch the title – their first Currie Cup triumph since 2009.

“If you consider there were probably four or five penalties in that last set of play, when we kept the ball and kept the ball, we kept our composure and knew it was coming,” White said afterwards.

“Maybe just in the beginning with their line-speed, maybe we should have chipped over them to stop that line-speed.

“But we probably got our just reward because ... we moved them around so much that I think when it counted at the end, they were fatigued – it’s altitude, they had to get up for it. Then they had to go off and get up again, and they had to play extra-time.”

White and the Bulls completed the domestic double, having claimed the Super Rugby Unlocked trophy last November.

The former Springbok coach stated that it was a “great honour” to guide his team to the golden cup, while he had some sympathy for his “very good friend”, Sharks boss Sean Everitt.

“I spoke to Sean Everitt after the game, (and asked him) ‘Jeez, how close was it?’. As he said, someone’s got to win and someone’s got to lose.”

The Bulls will now enjoy a few weeks off, with White saying they are awaiting a decision from SA Rugby on the next competition, which could be a local Franchise Cup, or the Rainbow Cup involving the PRO Rugby clubs in Europe.

Share this article: