Cornal Hendricks of the Bulls attempts to beat Tim Swiel of the Stormers during their Preparation Series match at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Tshwane on Friday. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Cornal Hendricks of the Bulls attempts to beat Tim Swiel of the Stormers during their Preparation Series match at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Tshwane on Friday. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Bulls change-room ‘buzzing’, Stormers proud despite Loftus defeat

By Ashfak Mohamed Time of article published Mar 21, 2021

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CAPE TOWN – Bulls coach Jake White expressed his pleasure with the way in which his team fought back from 20-7 down to beat the Stormers 34-29 at Loftus Versfeld on Friday night.

The Bulls scored five tries to just two of the Capetonians, but the visitors almost emerged triumphant in the final seconds, only for No 8 Juarno Augustus to drop the ball over the tryline.

After a strong start from the hosts, it was captain Salmaan Moerat and his Stormers side who took charge and scored 20 consecutive points in the first half with a combination of forward dominance, slick attacking play and a clever kicking game.

But Bulls skipper Nizaam Carr rallied his troops, and they clawed their way back into the match with a Joe van Zyl try just before halftime.

ALSO READ: Bulls captain Nizaam Carr celebrates making ‘history’ with Stormers counterpart Salmaan Moerat

They maintained the momentum in the first part of the second half, but it looked like the Bulls were buried at 26-19 down with less than 15 minutes to go.

White’s team hit back with two quick tries, before the last-gasp attempt by the Stormers came up short.

“I just think it looks like it’s one of those games where guys go ‘Jeez, had they scored, the Bulls would’ve lost’. We scored five tries. We had a scrum after Damian Willemse dropped the ball from an up-and-under exit – we just win that scrum, and the game is over,” the former Springbok coach said.

“Tim Agaba scores under the poles – he drops the ball – the game is over. So, there are a lot more things as opposed to watching the last three minutes.

“We were 20-7 down – some teams would’ve given up, some teams would said ‘Look, we are not going to win this game’, knowing full well that they’ve got Scarra on the bench, Ali Vermaak, Neethling Fouché, then still JD Schickerling and Evan Roos – that’s six forwards (with Johan du Toit).

“In the context of exactly that, I am very proud of the way they came back, very proud of the effort and the way they played for each other at the end there… the change-room is buzzing! It’s always nice to see a happy, buzzing change-room, and that’s what we all coach for. The reality is that we won, and sometimes winning ugly is also nice.”

For Stormers coach for the match, Labeeb Levy, it was a case of a lost opportunity. His players took the game to the Bulls – they won the scrum battle, had a well-oiled lineout machine, punched holes in the defence, and kept their opponents at bay on attack as well.

So, losing out in the end was a bitter pill to swallow. “If you look at the press conference from Wednesday to now, you can see small grey hairs coming out here! The heart is fine…” Levy quipped afterwards.

ALSO READ: Stormers coach gave Juarno Augustus big hug after ’Fleck’ moment at Loftus

“Considering the brand that was played by most teams in Super Rugby Unlocked and the Currie Cup, I think it was a decent advert for the beautiful game of rugby. Both teams played with intent, and tested each other in various aspects of the game. So, from that perspective, I’m proud of Salmaan’s boys and Nizaam’s boys.

“If you look at our scrum, and not to grade our front row, but we started with a young front row, and our stronger front row on the bench – and our supposed Springbok front row still at home.

“So, I think from there, we can really be proud of our performance. We got decent penalties. At some points of the game, we probably could have gotten one or two more. But the guys that came in were phenomenal in terms of their commitment and their scrum technique, and going according to the scrum game plan.”

@ashfakmohamed

IOL Sport

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