Proud to have finally achieved his first win over Leinster, Vodacom Bulls skipper Marcell Coetzee hailed the physicality shown in Friday’s titanic battle in Dublin.
The Bulls overpowered Leinster on Friday night as Jake White’s charges triumphed 27-26 at the RDS Arena to advance to the Vodacom United Rugby Championship final.
The Bulls took the game to the Irish and challenged them to live with the physical assault, and it proved to be a challenge the hosts could not meet head on as the likes of Elrigh Louw, Ruan Nortje and Johan Grobbelaar were influential in the set piece and collisions.
As the rain poured, the South Africans kept the Irish at bay. White’s men absorbed wave after attacking wave from the Irish before recording a first victory for a SA URC side in Ireland.
Playing for Ulster for five years from 2016, Coetzee – who scored the Bulls’ second try of the first half in Dublin to help set up a 17-14 lead at the break – previously never managed to be on the winning side against Leinster, so Friday’s victory was particularly sweet for the 31-year-old flank.
Speaking post-match on Friday, he said: “From being in Ireland I know first-hand how quickly the weather can change here – we had sunset, then we had rain, then we had sunset again! But we had a plan and we wanted to execute it, and it actually played into our favour if it did start raining.
“We wanted to be right up front and in their faces. You just had to adapt to what presented itself and luckily the group responded well, and obviously pleased with the win.
“[Leinster] are full of international stars and before the game we said that if we want to win this game, we’re going to have to play at that level and that comes with the physicality that we brought.
“We knew that if we could get into their faces and win the game physically, start implementing our strengths, we could come out with the win, and we executed to perfection.
“Good job for the boys but the job’s not done yet and there’s one more game to go and we’re very pleased with that.
Coetzee added: “I’ve had a couple of goes at them … four, five times and couldn’t manage it and came short with Ulster and then ja, wearing a Bulls jersey and getting the win, it’s a proud moment, and as the captain. Definitely a highlight of my career.”
The Bulls await the winners of the second semi-final, between the Stormers and Ulster in Cape Town on Saturday. On whether he is rooting for any team, Coetzee joked that Belfast “is a lot closer to Dublin”, before adding: “Both are quality sides and we’ll be watching them with enthusiasm.
“At the end of the day, may the best team win and we’ll adapt according to what team we play.”
Will the Cape side make two in a row against Ulster?
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) June 9, 2022