Jake White still searching for ‘perfect game’ despite Bulls’ 12-try romp against EP
CAPE TOWN – After watching his Bulls team score 12 tries and 87 points against Eastern Province, it’s no surprise that Jake White says he was “very impressed by what I saw today”.
But the former school teacher is a hard task-master, and in his pursuit of perfection, he still found areas that he wants to see improvement from the Super Rugby Unlocked and Currie Cup champions.
The men from Pretoria took 16 minutes to score two touchdowns, but waited another 15 to get their third against an outclassed Elephants side that were making their return to top-level rugby after nearly 18 months on the sidelines.
The main issue for a team led by Nizaam Carr on the day was the attacking breakdown, where they were penalised heavily by referee Stuart Berry in the opening quarter.
It led to White instructing his players to change their tactics with ball-in-hand, and it paid dividends as they ran in three tries in five minutes before halftime, while Carr, Stravino Jacobs and Keagan Johannes ended with two five-pointers each.
“I’d still like to see a couple of things better. In the beginning, we gave too many penalties away. I sent a message on to the field, saying instead of going to ground, let’s keep the ball up and see whether we can get away with actually not creating breakdowns, because we were getting penalised – even though we were carrying the ball into the breakdown,” White said during a press conference afterwards.
“It was quite simple – we were just going off our feet at the breakdown. He saying if you are going to clean past the ball, make sure you stay up. A couple of them were so blatant that… we haven’t been focusing, and I’m talking about the youngsters who haven’t had the same coaching time as some of the other players.
“So, it’s something that we will work on in the next four weeks with this group of players, so that we don’t make the same mistakes when we play next week.
“I must say, the way they adapted and the way they got that sort of game going… Remember, it was a really young group of players that never played together as a group, so you’ve got to be positive.
“As a coach, you are always looking for a perfect game, but I was obviously very impressed with what I saw today.”
It was a long afternoon for EP coach Peter de Villiers, who bemoaned his team’s high error-rate, while captain Inny Radebe’s injury misfortune didn’t help either.
“I don’t think the pack was that bad. I thought we were actually good in the scrums. We lost a few lineouts, but we made a hell of a lot of mistakes, gave away too many penalties, from which they scored three tries in the first half. And from there, it was just one-way traffic,” the former Springbok coach said.
“If you look at the scoreboard, it’s not a good reflection of what you want. Our captain Inny broke his hand within the first three minutes, and he’s actually very brave – he played on. CJ Velleman didn’t do too badly. Individually, there was good stuff, but also bad stuff.
“Making mistakes when you have the ball and you can’t build some phases, it will always punish you if you play a side like the Bulls. I was now privileged to be in their changing-room, and to see the trophies that they have, they are the best team in South Africa.
“So, for us to come here and make those little mistakes against them, you will always be punished.”
The Bulls are next in action on Wednesday, March 10 against the Pumas at Mbombela Stadium, while EP take on the Lions in Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth) on the same day.