Jake White says the Vodacom Bulls can still decide their own fate in the Currie Cup despite a ‘disappointing’ loss to the Sharks in Durban on Saturday.
The Bulls let a nine-point lead slip in the second half to lose 32-29 in Durban, missing a late opportunity to snatch a draw after the hooter when experienced flyhalf Morne Steyn uncharacteristically shanked his penalty attempt narrowly wide.
The result reduced the Bulls’ lead at the top of the Currie Cup standings to five points, after the men from Pretoria entered the weekend sitting comfortably with eight points between them and the now second-placed Sharks.
It was also the Bulls’ first loss since they were narrowly beaten by the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein in the second round of Super Rugby Unlocked and brought an end to their six-game unbeaten run.
Ironically, it also came in similar circumstances to the defeat in Bloemfontein when replacement flyhalf Chris Smith missed a conversion attempt which would have seen them come away with a 19-19 draw.
Speaking after the game, Bulls head coach White expressed his disappointment in the defeat, but added that he was still very happy with where his side was placed with four rounds to go before the playoffs.
‘I am obviously disappointed,’ White said. ‘We had a chance, but not only at the end. We were leading 29-20 at one stage. I thought we are getting on a bit of a roll and the momentum was in our favour. We then made a couple of mistakes from our own half, lost our lineouts and turned the ball over from kick-off.
‘I am a little disappointed things didn’t go our way, but at the same time I am appreciative of the margins being so small. As I have said before, this is a young team that is growing together and we will learn a lot from this. We will take a lot from this result.
‘I am very happy with where we are,’ White added. ‘I am not taking anything away from anybody but we have only been together for six months, of which half was in lockdown period. Who would have thought that we would have been ahead in Super Rugby Unlocked and now in the Currie Cup?
‘I am fully aware of the fact that a guy like [hooker] Schalk Erasmus, who came on today as a substitute, has been injured since the Green and Gold game. For him to come in and have to find his locks when he hasn’t really had time to develop with them, that’s going to come with time. It’s going to take repetition at our training sessions. [Debutant winger] Marnus Potgieter getting beaten in the air on the cross-kick to Sbu Nkosi who is probably one of the best wingers in the world. I am fully positive that we will grow and we will become better. We will put the hard work in.
‘Those guys need to understand that we will make mistakes. We still have our destiny in our own hands and we can still make the playoffs. I would like to believe that any team this coaching group coaches becomes tough to beat. If two kicks go over we draw both games. At least we know that we were 17-9 down at one stage and were under the pump just before half time. We had to regroup at half-time. To go from 17-9 to taking the lead at 29-20 was very pleasing, but we want to make sure we get to the win at the end of the game.’
Photo: Anton Geyser/Gallo Images