CAPE TOWN - The Bulls may have topped the South African log by eight points, with a points differential of 66 and just a single defeat, but it doesn’t mean that coach Jake White is entirely happy ahead of Saturday’s Rainbow Cup final against Benetton in Treviso, Italy.
The Pretoria side did everything and more to qualify for the trip to Italy in beating the Sharks 34-22 at Jonsson Kings Park in Durban on Saturday night.
Apart from scoring four tries for their own bonus point, they also recorded their first victory in Durban on White’s watch, having lost two previous matches.
After holding out the Sharks for long periods of the first half, the
Bulls took charge early through opportunistic tries by fullback David Kriel – from a tap penalty – and Cornal Hendricks, who benefited from Morné Steyn’s charge-down of a Curwin Bosch chip and showed good pace to score.
Wing Stravino Jacobs also rounded off a fine set-piece move by bursting through a gap left by Bosch and Lukhanyo Am, while lock Janko Swanepoel barged his way over from close-range.
But while the former Bok coach stated that he was “pleased” that his team could score four or more tries for the fourth time in the tournament, he said that the Bulls would have to display better composure if they hope to win the title against Benetton on Saturday (6.30pm SA time kick-off).
“When you’re a coach, you get so critical about little things. We could’ve kicked the ball out a few times when we didn’t; Keagan Johannes got the ball, great scrum, kicks the ball straight down (Aphelele) Fassi’s throat – that just has to go into the cheap seats, (as) the game’s over,” White said.
“Then they’ve got to have a lineout, the clock winds down … naivety in terms of understanding what happened there.
“Morné (Steyn), for all his experience, kicking the ball and not finding touch – all of a sudden, little things.
“But you only learn that the more you play together, the more I can coach those scenarios, go through a video session and explain to them the ramifications of not understanding how you can close a game off.
“Even though we had won, we are going overseas and scored four tries, I am still critical of the fact that that’s not always going to be the case. That might be a 27-26 (situation), need to win the game – find touch, don’t be fancy.
“To do it when you are on a high is much more easier. Then it’s called coaching. But if you do it when you lose, then it’s uitkak (a scolding)! There’s a hell of a difference.”
The Bulls have received Covid19 vaccines, but will only confirm their tour squad later today once they get their latest coronavirus test results before they fly to Treviso via Amsterdam tonight.
Having won five out of their six matches, the Bulls will hope to make the country proud on Saturday.
“I think it’s an exciting time for everybody. I think the whole of South Africa is keen to see a different game compared to the local derbies that we’ve played. I saw (Sharks coach) Sean Everitt now downstairs, and he said ‘Listen, go and win it now for South Africa’,” White said.
“We have a great chance to be the first team to play in the north and measure ourselves against the competition there.
“I am looking forward to taking this team and seeing how good we are when we play against a team that’s unbeaten – they are the only unbeaten team in this Rainbow Cup.”