Vodacom Blue Bulls coach Pote Human expressed his pride with his team after their narrow 35-32 semi-final loss to Western Province at Newlands. DYLAN JACK reports.
The Bulls surprised with a fantastic performance in which they pushed the defending champions to the brink, leading at the break before scoring a late try to take the game to extra-time.
The visitors, in fact, had much the better of the game, outscoring Province four tries to two, but some ill-discipline allowed the hosts to get back into the game via the deadeye boot of SP Marais.
However tough the loss was on the Bulls, Human was left impressed with the way his team bounced back from their 34-7 one-half hiding by Province at Loftus.
‘I am so proud of the guys, with the guts, the determination and the character they showed after last weekend. That is what we expect from a guy who puts on a Bulls jersey. I am really proud but it is a bitter one [to take].
‘The loss last week hurt us. The guys felt that. There was a different vibe this week. The guys said we are going to Newlands to win.
‘They really played to win. Our defence was awesome and our scrums were much better. I must compliment [loosehead prop] Trevor Nyakane. He showed why he can play both sides [of the scrum] and he did really well against [Province tighthead] Wilco [Louw].
‘Our defence was really good today. We missed that one lineout and they scored but you can’t put that down to our defensive structures. Our guidelines worked perfectly for us today. The guys made their tackles and put them under huge pressure.’
Following centre Dylan Sage’s try after the full-time hooter, the Bulls had a chance to steal the win, but flyhalf Manie Libbok – who picked up a haul of 17 points – missed his touchline conversion.
Human refused to blame the 20-year-old playmaker for the loss and instead praised him for his performance.
‘It is not on Manie. Our discipline let us down. It was not Manie’s kick that cost us, it was just too many silly penalties, especially on offside lines. That is just soft.
‘I must compliment Manie after last week [when he struggled at Loftus]. It was a tough call to give him another go [at Newlands] but we know he is a good player, he is very talented and dug deep today on defence and attack.
‘He made mistakes but I tip my hat to him after last week. The way he picked up the ball for our first try was awesome.’
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images