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Ken Borland

Jake praises Bulls’ determination, but admits they’re in a very difficult position

Posted on March 24, 2022 by Ken

Bulls coach Jake White praised his team for their determination to not just lie down and die after Morne Steyn’s red card against the Sharks at Loftus Versfeld, even though he admitted their lack of finishing and ultimate defeat leaves them in a very difficult position in the United Rugby Championship.

The Bulls had to play for 70 minutes without their talismanic flyhalf after he was permanently sent off for a late, high tackle that struck the neck of Lukhanyo Am. But a tremendous effort and some superb rugby saw them come back from 26-12 down, eventually losing 22-29 with several scoring chances left on the table.

“I’m really proud of the way the team fought back,” White said, “because some teams just lay down and die after a red card. Your flyhalf runs everything, and Morne is the best kicker in the competition and we missed three conversions. Kick those and we would have won.

“It’s never nice to lose, we don’t feel good, but there’s a lot to be positive about. You lose your flyhalf for 70 minutes and still score four tries against probably the best team on paper in South Africa.

“It was not the result we wanted, but you can’t question the players’ commitment. We just needed to be more clinical in their 22, we managed to pin them there for long periods of time.

“We had enough opportunities in the 22, but things went wrong with our maul and some of our ball-carries. But I’m very confident with where we are going with this team,” White said.

The former Springbok coach expressed his surprise that the Bulls did not see more reward from referee AJ Jacobs either for their rolling maul or their concerted pressure on the Sharks’ tryline.

“We ran 40 metres with our maul and got no reward, which I can’t understand,” White said. “We also had a half-a-dozen penalties on their tryline.

“Our forward pack did not take a step backwards and we showed that we can dominate against a team that is like the Springboks side.

“I thought Robert Hunt and Jacques van Rooyen did well today against the incumbent Springbok front row and we are much better off in terms of scrummaging than we were seven weeks ago.

“But this loss puts us in a very difficult position. Our backs are against the wall for the first time for this group. But good teams find a way of making the playoffs and our challenge now is to find the low road,” White said.

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