JOHANNESBURG - The Blue Bulls are probably still wondering how it is that they are not preparing for the Currie Cup final this week and are instead nursing the hurt that comes with coming so close and yet finishing so far.
And those thoughts of what they could have done differently or better will occupy their minds for the all of this week as they realise how close they were to breaking a nine-year Currie Cup drought after their nail-biting 35-32 loss to Western Province in Saturday’s semi-final at Newlands.
Unlike the week before where they were thumped by the defending Currie Cup champions, the Bulls did not only stand toe-to-toe with their old foes but they threatened to upstage them in their own backyard with a performance that was filled with skill and mostly passion.
While the Bulls managed to take the encounter into extra time, after Dylan Sage scored at the death with flyhalf Manie Libbok missing what would have been a match-winning conversion, it was a penalty that eventually separated the two teams. Bulls coach Pote Human was full of praise for his team and the epic effort they put in, but acknowledged that discipline ultimately led to their demise.
“I just think the loss last week hurt us and the guys felt that and there was a different vibe this week. The guys told themselves that they are going to Newlands to win the game and that’s what happened, they played to win. I’m very proud, our defence was awesome and the scrums were much better and I must compliment Trevor Nyakane he showed that he can play both sides and he did really well against Wilco (Louw),” said Human.
“It is not on Manie. Our discipline let us down and we gave away too many penalties and it is not Manie’s kick that cost us I believe. There were just too many silly penalties we gave away especially on the offside line and that’s just soft.”
The Bulls may have the lingering bitter taste of the cruel nature of sport because on any given day against another team their performance would have been more than sufficient to see them through to the final and even win the competition.
Human is fully aware of how close he came to winning the domestic trophy for the second time with the Bulls after doing so in 2006. “If we could have gone through to the final after that performance, we would have had a great chance of winning the Currie Cup,” he said
However, Human is confident that his charges will be better off from the anguish of the loss and will come back stronger in the seasons to come. “Nobody gave us a chance and they told us that we are going to the slaughter house. The players are obviously hurting and it was deadly silent in the changing-room afterwards.
“We knew we could have won that game. The players know that we are proud of them and I believe they will stand up again. I’m very positive they will come back from this,” Human said.