Jake White says Saturday’s gutsy victory over Benetton shows the Vodacom Bulls have learnt how to dig deep for the win.
White’s men fought back from 13-0 down at Loftus Versfeld to defeat the Italians 46-29 and keep the Bulls’ playoff hopes alive in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship.
The visitors were quick out of the blocks, and it was déjà vu of the Bulls’ 2021 Rainbow Cup final loss in Treviso, but an inspired second-half performance earned the Pretoria outfit a six-try victory.
“It was almost the same as when we faced Benetton the last time – we let them get a good start. As I said to the players now, I am really happy that we learnt from that,” White said post-match.
“In Benetton, when we let them get a good start, we didn’t catch up. It’s a massive learning for us. To go 13-0 down and 16-3 down, and still end up winning 46-29 means that we showed a lot of character. We are happy with that.
“You could always criticise every game, and now and again we were inaccurate at the breakdown. We also couldn’t get out of our half a few times, and it began there.”
The Bulls added: “We kicked the ball out directly three or four times, or we ran with the ball and kicked it away. So, it’s not just about the breakdowns, but we need to show a bit of calmness, and we lost the ball a few times near the tryline. Perhaps we started slowly because we haven’t played for two weeks.
“It [not finishing well] is a concern, but we got there many, many times and didn’t finish. That’s one of the secrets of being a really good team and winning competitions like this: you’ve got to make sure that [you finish].
“You are not going to get 10 chances in a game. We got a few [on Saturday], but when you play the big sides… and I’m not taking anything away from Benetton. We had to work hard to finish off those moves. But we are going to have to improve if we want to get better.”
Saturday’s triumph came hours after the news of the death of Pedrie Wannenburg, and a moment’s silence for the former Springbok and Bulls star preceded kick-off.
“It’s also important to say that our thoughts are with Pedrie’s family, on the loss of their loved one,” White added.
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) April 23, 2022