Jake White says Vodacom Bulls are still in the race for the lead in the South African Conference while also aiming to drill into Stormers after his team’s loss in Cape Town on Saturday. Dylan Jack reports.
The past came back to haunt the bulls as Manny Leboc, the player who once called Pretoria home, and Damien Willemsey, who was targeted by the Bulls as a key signing, kicked three penalty kicks and a drop-off between them to storm the decisive 19. -17 wins at Cape Town Stadium.
This led the Stormers to tie Ireland’s fourth-placed Monster on Vodacom United’s rugby league record, with the eighth-placed Bulls trailing their southern rival by four points.
However, Bulls head coach White refused to rule out the possibility of his side making a late increase to snatch the South African Conference from the Stormers.
In the remaining matches this season, the Stormers will face Glasgow Warriors and Leinster in Cape Town, before traveling to Wales to face the Crimson. By contrast, the Bulls have a slightly easier run as they host Italy’s Benetton and Glasgow, before completing an away game against the Ospreys.
White said after the match: “The result has always gone its way.” “We finally had a chance. If we could get into half of them, Morne Stein would have kicked a penalty. Let’s not forget, last year he kicked a penalty against the British and Irish Lions here. I thought it was a bit of a deja vu.
“These are the margins. We couldn’t get our half out. They played well tactically. We probably kicked the ball to them a lot.
“But the championship is still going on. We are alive and kicking and there is a lot of rugby to play. We have already played with Leinster, Connacht and Münster.”
Asked if his team was aiming to win the South African Conference, White said – Who coached the Bulls last year for two consecutive Korean Cup titles – He couldn’t resist making an inaccurate drill on the Stormers after the homeowners celebrated their victory at the final whistle.
“It’s good to win a title, especially if you haven’t won one in years. I think that’s why you have to jump up and down at the end of the match because you have a chance of winning the title,” White said.
“A lot of our guys have won some titles in the last couple of years. I think that’s the point. It’s called a shield and if you think you can win it, go for it.”
However, White had some kind words for the way the Stormers defended at the lines and put the Bulls under tremendous pressure on the meltdowns.
“Sometimes we looked a little disorganized. They put us under pressure from the first stage and from the lines. We couldn’t get any rhythm. They were very good at breaking down. Every time we got the ball, we struggled to keep it through two stages. It’s Not the best we’ve played, so…it’s one of those matches.It’s hard to play against the Stormers in Cape Town.
“In the last two weeks we’ve been able to win streaks and get a quick ball when collapsing. They’ve changed their defensive style from their streaks. They’ve done a different style in how they compete. They caught us a little bit and it took a long time to get back to winning the ball. When we did that, we looked at Alright.We got some bonuses, but they made it hard for us.
“At least we got the losing bonus point and we’re still alive. This is obviously critical.”
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