Jake White isn’t bothered whether or not the Vodacom Bulls secure a home quarter-final in the United Rugby Championship because “they’ve shown that they can win away from home”.
The Bulls shot up to third on the URC log after Friday’s 38-31 bonus-point win over Ospreys in Swansea.
The victory secured White’s men a home playoff at Loftus Versfeld, although Saturday’s round of results could mute any pre-celebrations, as wins for the Stormers and Munster would leapfrog them above the Bulls.
“I told the players we’re going to have to play overseas anyway, whether it’s a quarter-final, semi-final or a final,” said White following Friday night’s triumph at Swansea Stadium.
“We’re not going to end first or second on the log as it stands, so if it means you need to play an away knockout a week earlier or not, we’ve shown that we can win away from home.”
The Bulls boss praised his team’s performances in Wales. Veteran midfielder Cornal Hendricks scored a hat-trick and was named Man of the Match, while 19-year-old Canan Moodie showed good touches and also crossed the whitewash, after shrugging off an error-prone first half.
White added: “Even a young guy like [22-year-old flyhalf] Juan Mostert, 10 seconds before he threw the intercept pass for the Ospreys’ final try, made a try-saving tackle by holding the guy up over the line.
“That’s what we talk about when we’re discussing X factor. It’s got nothing to do with individual brilliance, it’s about the whole team understanding how we can play in a way that takes the game away from the opposition.
“I thought we played really well. The way we attacked, the shape we had, the ruck speed and precision of understanding where we need to go was, at times, as good as any team we’ve played against this year. I’m very positive.
“We’re growing as a team. Individuals are playing well because of what their teammates are doing, carrying well, scrumming well, attacking well,” he said.
“I’m enjoying that there are little things falling in place. It will only get better the longer we keep these guys together.”