Vodacom Bulls coach Jake White says the two recent resounding wins over the Sharks will breed confidence rather than complacency ahead of Saturday’s rematch in Durban, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
At the end of September, Vodacom Bulls first made a statement of intent ahead of the domestic season by thrashing an admittedly under-strength Sharks side 49-28 on Super Fan Saturday in Pretoria.
In the weeks to follow, the Bulls were comfortably crowned Super Rugby Unlocked champs, which also included an impressive 41-14 victory over the Sharks on 24 October.
It’s no real surprise then that Sharks prop Thomas du Toit suggested earlier this week that the Durban-based side feel that they ‘owe the Bulls one’ after those recent results.
Considering the Bulls also have an eight point lead at the top of the Currie Cup standings – albeit with the Sharks having a game in hand – this Saturday’s match could be decisive in determining whether anyone can catch the log leaders.
It all adds to the subplot in Saturday’s clash, which could also see some predicted wet weather serving as another leveller.
Chatting to the media on Thursday, White said they knew what to expect from a Sharks side that is well known for their prolific kicking game, while six forwards have been picked on the bench.
‘The Sharks have developed a lot [since the last game against the Bulls]. I don’t think they’ve changed what they’re doing, they’re just doing it a lot better,’ White commented. ‘Having scored 90 points in the last two games, though, we take a lot of confidence from that. From experience, the Bulls like going to Durban and playing at Kings Park, so we’re looking forward to being measured against a good team.’
White added that there would certainly not be any complacency as the Bulls look to take another big step towards the domestic title.
‘I’m enjoying the fact we have some momentum now, and as I said last week I’d much rather be in a position where we won the last two games by 49 and 41 points, than go into this game not knowing how to beat this team. We know if we play well enough we can beat them, and we know what they’re going to be bringing.
‘We’re in a fortunate position, there’s no over-complacency, we have respect for them as a team, they were a top team in Super Rugby. But I don’t want to underplay that when you’ve had two results like we’ve had recently against a similar side to what they have now, there’s no reason why you’d go into a game like this without the knowledge – not complacency – that if you play well you can win.’