Jake: One of my best wins

Jake White hailed the Vodacom Bulls’ semi-final victory over a star-studded Leinster as one of his greatest-ever club coaching results. DYLAN JACK reports.

The Vodacom Bulls overturned the odds in the Vodacom URC semi-finals at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday to beat an experienced Leinster side boasting 15 Ireland internationals in the starting lineup.

Despite hosting the match, the Bulls were billed as underdogs as they were without a trio of Springbok stars in Kurt-Lee Arendse, Canan Moodie and Marcell Coetzee, while Leinster were able to name a lineup with well over 1000 club appearances combined.

A World Cup-winning coach with the 2007 Springboks, White hailed the win as one of his best with a club team.

“This is one of the biggest wins I’ve ever had as a coach,” White said. “I was lucky enough at the Brumbies to beat the British & Irish Lions, I’ve been lucky here to beat the South African A side.

“But I would say man-for-man, with the pressure that comes with a game like this, especially because Ireland are coming down here in three weeks, that’s the added bonus that makes this one of the best club results I’ve had.

“The Brumbies must come close, to beat a British & Irish team with no Wallabies because they were all in camp. In the modern game, with how the game has grown and what Ireland have achieved…this Irish team beat the All Blacks and South Africa with these players.

“For a club team, with no Canan, Kurt-Lee or Marcell Coetzee, who is also a Springbok, it must rank up there for me as one of the best wins we’ve ever had.”

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Utilising the outstanding talents of Willie le Roux and Johan Goosen, the Bulls created opportunity after opportunity through the use of their cross-field kicking game, forcing Leinster onto the back foot and giving the visitors little time and space with the ball.

It was from an aerial kick that the Bulls scored the winning try, with Sergeal Petersen latching onto Embrose Papier’s hoist and racing away to dive over the tryline.

“For me, and I don’t know what they said in the media before the game, but I think we caught them a little bit,” White said. “They didn’t think we were going to play that way. They didn’t think we were going to play with that backline.

“One thing Leinster are very good at is analysing opposition. The one team that they couldn’t analyse was the one we picked because I didn’t know we were going to pick that team either.

“I think we surprised Leinster. Jacques [Nienaber] would have done his homework, I’m sure he did. They would have wanted to kick contestables.

“They beat us in Dublin and one of their tries came from when we kicked an up-and-under, one of their players caught it, there were two offloads and Josh van der Flier scored under the poles.

“We just decided today that we aren’t going to give them those opportunities. It’s almost like a lineout for them, they catch it, move it and they are already on the other side of the field.

“I think they were surprised because we didn’t give them that set-piece. We got it wrong at times today. But there’s no doubt that we surprised them by not giving them the ball they wanted to attack from.”

Photo: Gordon Arons/Gallo Images

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