Jake White says Bulls waited a long time for this as John Dobson bemoans Stormers ‘horror show’

Bulls centre David Kriel (left) charges into Stormers No 8 Hacjivah Dayimani at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday night. Photo: BackpagePix

Bulls centre David Kriel (left) charges into Stormers No 8 Hacjivah Dayimani at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday night. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Mar 3, 2024


Bulls coach Jake White thought he had nearly scuppered his team’s chances of victory with a series of replacements, but said his players will thoroughly enjoy the 40-22 United Rugby Championship victory over the Stormers on Saturday night.

The triumph in front of 50 026 spectators at an electric Loftus Versfeld ended a seven-match losing streak for the Bulls against their great Cape rivals, which would have brought much-needed relief to White and his management group.

Embrose Papier’s late bonus-point try made it an almost perfect night for the home side, who got off to a flying start by leading 19-5 after 24 minutes – with the kickoff having been delayed by 59 minutes due to a thunderstorm warning.

The Pretoria side are now second on the URC log on 40 points, behind leaders Leinster (44), while the Stormers are ninth on 30.

“We’ve waited a long time for this! Vitas Gerulaitis was a tennis player, and he played against Jimmy Connors and lost 16 times,” White said after the match.

“And when he eventually won in the 17th match, they asked him what do you think? And he said ‘Nobody beats Vitas Gerulaitis 17 times in a row!’.

“So, we will enjoy this. We have waited a long time. Bakkies (Botha) said to me in the change-room, sometimes the road is longer than it is wide.

“It’s taken a bit of a long road for us, but it was comprehensive today. Great defensive side, (and yet) we scored four tries today – one disallowed.

“Then defensively, we kept them out. A year ago or two years ago, they would have scored in those plays they had on the tryline... three out of the five or six they had.

“So, I don’t think we will get complacent. We will enjoy this because we’ve grown as a team. I said this to you guys (the media) the whole week.

“I must say that right at the end of the game, I sort of doubted... I thought jeez, why did I pull the trigger so quickly? I put in all the reserves on, because you put on a 19-year-old lock, you put on a front row when you are dominating with your (starting) front row anyway...

“And I thought maybe I had shot myself in the foot there. But those are lessons I’ll learn. The gains you get out of giving those boys an opportunity to be on the field in that time, and get the experience of winning in front of 50 000 people is immeasurable.”

Stormers coach John Dobson was disappointed by his team’s performance. The Capetonians gave away several penalties in the opening quarter and were punished by Bulls flyhalf Johan Goosen, who slotted four three-pointers to add to Johan Grobbelaar’s maul try.

The visitors also battled to convert their opportunities from the lineouts, although they fought back well to get to within four points at 19-15 at halftime.

“That first half-an-hour was probably one of our worst in the URC, certainly with discipline. On 12 minutes, we were on five penalties,” Dobson said.

“You can’t play against a team as good as the Bulls like that. I don’t know where that came from. It was remarkably poor.

“Just when we clawed our way back into the game, we would do something else silly. I think the stats in the second half was like five 22-metre entries and zero points – apart from the one maul try.

“Uncharacteristically ill-disciplined, almost lazy performance by us. I suppose what gives some solace is that we were able to turn around and come back into the game, quite easily.

“I thought Warrick (Gelant) was magnificent, Manie (Libbok) was good, Damian (Willemse) was good.

“But just in general, our forwards and our discipline (was not up to standard). In the lineouts, they are always a strong contesting team up here, and we had a couple of missed throws and a ‘mik’ – not good enough by us at all against a good Bulls team.”


Bulls 40 – Tries: Johan Grobbelaar (2), Canan Moodie, Embrose Papier. Conversions: Johan Goosen (4). Penalties: Goosen (4).

Stormers 22 – Tries: Ben Loader, Evan Roos, André-Hugo Venter. Conversions: Manie Libbok (2). Penalty: Libbok (1).