Cape Town – When you score 36 points in the first half, you don’t expect your coach to tell you that you need to look at yourself in the mirror.
But that was the message from Jake White to the Bulls after they conceded 33 points in the second half of their 48-38 Currie Cup victory over Griquas at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday night.
The Pretoria motored into a 36-5 halftime lead, courtesy of tries by Stravino Jacobs (2), Cyle Brink, Reinhardt Ludwig and Canan Moodie, and it appeared as if the game was over as a contest.
But despite an early second-half touchdown by Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Griquas never stopped trying, and stretched the Bulls defence to score 19 points without reply.
They nearly did the impossible at the end to reduce the gap to just 10 points, and White – who was standing in for the ill Bulls Currie Cup coach Gert Smal – was not impressed.
“First half wasn’t outstanding – we were all right. We did enough, but also made a lot of mistakes. But I am very disappointed that in the second half, we let them score four tries. When you play for the Bulls, it’s a pride thing that you need to do, especially on defence,” the former Springbok coach said.
“So, I am a little disappointed in them, and they know it. I am thankful that we won, but we need to look at ourselves in the mirror.”
Yellow cards to prop Lizo Gqoboka (collapsing a maul) and star wing Madosh Tambwe (deliberate knockdown) saw the Bulls scrambling with 13 men, and White was unhappy about the lack of discipline on defence.
But at least they were able to secure the five log points and go to the top of the standings, which sees them one ahead of the Cheetahs, who have a game in hand.
“It comes easy in the beginning, and to be fair, we scored 36 points and it could have been a lot more. In fact, I’ve just had a debate with the referee and TMO now – that one try that we scored, they took a quick (goal-line drop-out) and were quite clever. They took a quick drop-out when the replays were still being shown – and that would have been a try as well,” he said.
“That’s the problem sometimes… when it becomes too easy and you get a little bit loose, you probably play into Griquas’ hands as well. But still, I’m disappointed by the way we defended. If you’re comfortable and so far ahead, then it’s even more of an indictment on our guys because that’s when you’ve got to keep them out as well.
“Whether it’s Madosh or Lizo or whatever, we speak about it every week. And to give two cards away when we are 30 points ahead, it’s not like we’re under pressure.
“One was for sacking a maul, and obviously that was on the tryline. But it wasn’t like we were pounded and pounded on the tryline, and then we conceded – that for me was just too easy.
“It’s something that we are going to have to get right, and I’m obviously going to have to sit with the players – we can’t just keep talking about it… we have to get it right.”
Bulls 48 – Tries: Stravino Jacobs (2), Cyle Brink, Reinhardt Ludwig, Canan Moodie, Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Harold Vorster. Conversions: Chris Smith (5). Penalty: Smith (1).
Griquas 38 – Tries: Sango Xamlashe, Penalty Try, Munier Hartzenberg, Hanru Sirgel (2), Chris Hollis. Conversions: Zander du Plessis (3).