Jake White says flyhalf Chris Smith was in two minds over whether to go for the injury-time drop goal that ultimately pushed the Vodacom Bulls past the Sharks and into the Vodacom United Rugby Championship semi-finals.
The quarter-final evenly poised at 27-27 after regulation time on Saturday, Smith slotted the match-winning kick for the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld to set up a last-four showdown next week against eight-time champions Leinster in Dublin.
Speaking to the media after the match, White said Smith told him that he was panicked as he decided whether or not to go for the drop goal.
“I don’t know if they were thinking about it, but I think Chris thought there was so much pressure, he probably wasn’t going to do it.
“He said to me he was terrified, but the nice thing is that it’s not the first time we’ve seen a Northern Transvaal player drop a kick over,” White said, alluding to iconic Bulls and Springbok flyhalf Naas Botha.
Smith struck an additional three conversions and two penalties for a personal 15-point haul in the Highveld thriller, with the Bulls and the Sharks each scoring three tries.
With a tough challenge coming next week against Irish giants Leinster, who hammered Glasgow Warriors in record fashion at the RDS Arena on Saturday afternoon, White said he was pleased to see the team making the big moments count.
“This is how knockout rugby is played. You may score four tries, but you’ll still have to take the game deep,” White said.
“What has happened in the pool stages is immaterial because we’re at a stage where we’re dealing with one-off games.
“You need to make those games count and things won’t get any easier because Leinster will be hurting and will be rampant.”
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