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Fantastic to reach URC final, but more to come - Bulls coach Jake White

Bulls coach Jake White is not getting carried away with their 27-26 United Rugby Championship semi-final triumph over Leinster. Picture: Billy Stickland/INPHO/Shutterstock/BackpagePix

Bulls coach Jake White is not getting carried away with their 27-26 United Rugby Championship semi-final triumph over Leinster. Picture: Billy Stickland/INPHO/Shutterstock/BackpagePix

Published Jun 12, 2022

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Cape Town - It was a momentous Friday night for the Bulls in Dublin, but coach Jake White is not getting carried away with their 27-26 United Rugby Championship semi-final triumph over Leinster.

The Bulls slayed the four-time defending champions at the RDS Arena to reach the final against the Stormers who beat Ulster in the other semi-final in Cape Town on Saturday.

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Captain Marcell Coetzee and his team kept their composure early on in the face of an onslaught on their line by Leinster, as they made tackle after tackle to avoid conceding points.

Another crucial moment was how they hit back after taking the ball through 18 phases in the second half, only to be penalised on the Leinster tryline.

But White – while praising the endeavour that the Bulls showed in a high-pressure situation – was reluctant to compare this win to the one in Christchurch in 2014, when his 14-man Sharks side got the better of the Crusaders.

He felt that there was some luck that went the way of the visitors as well, such as a few unforced errors by Leinster inside their own half.

The Pretoria side are in the final, but are not the finished product yet. “I think it’s fantastic, but one swallow doesn’t make a summer. It’s great that our curve and progression looks like it does, but there’s a lot more things I’d like to do,” White said.

“There are a couple of signings that we are still going to try to get in place. The La Rochelle (Champions Cup winners) pack is probably a 1 000kg – so there are a lot of things I learnt there as well.

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“We are not close to where we want to be, but without being arrogant, playing in the final of the URC in year one – and being in the semi-final of the Currie Cup – is something that is fantastic for our union as well.”

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The former Springbok coach expressed satisfaction with how the Bulls produced their finest performance of the season in a play-off match against the top side in the competition.

“One thing the Bulls have done significantly well since I’ve been there is play their best rugby at the back-end of the competition. I am just hoping that we continue to understand that when it comes to knockout rugby, you’ve got to play with that intensity, that composure and that confidence,” White said.

“If we continue to do that, I’m sure we will create opportunities for us to win competitions. One thing that is true is that you’ve got to defend well against Leinster.

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“I saw the Crusaders made 225 tackles in a semi-final today and won against the Chiefs. That’s the kind of game you’ve got to play sometimes. It’s not always about scoring tries … Today, it was about defending and keeping Leinster out, and I am obviously very happy with that.”

Captain Coetzee lauded his fellow forwards for thwarting a Leinster pack filled with Irish Test stars. Props Gerhard Steenekamp and Mornay Smith won their battle against Andrew Porter and Tadhg Furlong in the scrums, while hooker Johan Grobbelaar was the Man of the Match.

Locks Walt Steenkamp and Ruan Nortje stole a number of Leinster lineouts, and No 8 Elrigh Louw burst over the advantage line almost at will.

“The big message earlier in the week was that if you want to have a chance of winning the play-offs, the set-pieces have to function. It just sets you up to get you in the right positions, and I have to compliment Russell Winter, the forwards coach, the scrum coach … ” Coetzee said.

@ashfakmohamed

IOL Sport

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