• White pays tribute to Bulls leadership, bench

    Vodacom Bulls director of rugby Jake White has credited the impact of the team’s substitutes following their Currie Cup title win in Pretoria on Saturday. DYLAN JACK reports.

    The Bulls claimed their first Currie Cup title since 2009 after coming from behind to beat the Sharks in a final that went into extra time.

    It was a dramatic final, during which first half was halted by a local thunderstorm, while both flyhalves had the opportunity to win the match for their team before the game progressed beyond the regular 80 minutes.

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    However, it was the Bulls who ultimately were more composed and took their opportunities to complete their rise to the summit of South African domestic rugby.

    ‘It’s incredible when you consider the challenges,’ head coach White said in his immediate reflections post-final.  ‘No crowds, Covid, lightning and thunder causing the first half to be cut in half. With everything, we had to adapt all the time. It’s definitely going to be a final that everyone will remember for many different reasons.

    ‘I am really proud of the way we stuck in there. We had a chance on the hooter to win and then they got a penalty [in extra time] and they missed it. It was incredible.’

    White singled out the effort of his substitutes during the online post-match media conference. To illustrate his point, loose forward Arno Botha, named as a replacement, had the two most telling touches, scoring his first try to level the scores, before scoring the winner in the second period of extra time.

    ‘I was reflecting and the one thing I really enjoyed was the way our bench and the reserves actually came on and handled the pressure,’ White said.  ‘Obviously, that’s the thing you want to see from a team going forward.

    ‘The bench was really composed when they came on, but they get that because they have been on the field many times this season. They get comfort out of the fact that this isn’t the only game they have come from behind to win. It’s definitely something we are really happy about.

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    ‘I just felt comfortable that we could put these players on. That, for me, is probably the biggest excitement that I have enjoyed. We have used our squad. Out of 42 contracted players, everyone has played some minutes. That makes it special because when you go into the change room there isn’t someone thinking that they haven’t contributed or that this isn’t their Currie Cup.

    ‘Every guy has been part of it, whether it’s been half a game, 10 minutes, starting in a rotated team. I know everyone in the change room felt that they had contributed.’

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    Photo: Anton Geyser/Gallo Images

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    Dylan Jack