for quality writing

Ken Borland



Bulls listed in last 16 of Champions Cup after good win, but made life hard for themselves 0

Posted on January 21, 2024 by Ken

Bulls captain Marcell Coetzee carried strongly and scored two tries as his team overcame Bordeaux-Begles to ensure a place in the last 16 of the Champions Cup.
Photo: Christiaan Kotze (Gallo Images)

A 46-40 victory over group winners Bordeaux-Begles has ensured the Bulls will be listed in the final 16 of the Champions Cup, and coach Jake White is delighted by that, but he did admit to being a little bemused by how hard they made life for themselves at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday afternoon.

The Bulls scored six tries, some of them absolutely brilliant, with flank Marcell Coetzee going over twice and wing Devon Williams, centre David Kriel, fullback Willie le Roux and scrumhalf Embrose Papier, with a superb individual effort, also getting on the try-scorers’ list. Flyhalf Johan Goosen converted five of the tries and his replacement, Jaco van der Walt, kicked two crucial late penalties.

Bordeaux-Begles also scored six tries, taking two bonus points from the match, which was enough to confirm they will finish top of the group.

The Bulls twice found themselves in a rock-solid position of dominance, leading 21-7 after 26 minutes and then 40-21 after 53 minutes, but on both occasions their concentration and game-management wobbled and they ended up letting the quality Bordeaux side back in the game.

It was the home side’s replacements who saw out the final quarter, their strong ball-carrying earning them the two penalties that enabled them to just hold off the French challenge.

“We did make it difficult for ourselves and maybe at halftime we started to think about winning by 36 points because that would have seen us top the pool if Bordeaux didn’t get any bonus points,” White admitted afterwards.

“Maybe we were seduced into that style of play, it became like a sevens game and that probably helped Bordeaux, who are a good team. This is such a big competition and there are very small margins, those are the things we need to be sharper on.

“But I can’t be cross with the team, we had four forwards under the age of 22. This is the next step to Test rugby and the only way the team is going to learn to cope with these sort of situations is by going through it. We need to be more streetwise, but that comes with time. When we have our debrief, we’ll look at what some of the best options should have been.

“But I’m obviously still very proud of the win and scoring 46 points versus Bordeaux, they don’t often concede that many and they have been dominant in France. So I’m happy and it’s nice to learn when you’ve won,” White said.

The Bulls gave the visitors, on an eight-match winning streak, a ferocious welcome as eighthman Cameron Hanekom was ruled to have just lost the ball over the line and tighthead prop Carlu Sadie was yellow-carded for a ruck offence. After seven minutes, the Bulls were finally on the board as Coetzee went over from a tap-penalty.

Bordeaux equalised six minutes later when fullback Romain Buros knifed through to score, but the Bulls then thrilled the crowd of more than 10 000 with a superbly-executed try off a lineout. Strong carries by hooker Jan-Hendrik Wessels and lock Ruan Nortje were followed by a lovely pass out wide from Goosen to Williams, who scampered over for the try.

Coetzee forced his way over for a second try on 26 minutes, but in the last 10 minutes, the Bulls had to call on all their scrambling ability in defence as Bordeaux put them under severe pressure following prop Gerhard Steenekamp’s yellow card for ruck offences.

The Bulls did concede a try to lock Adam Coleman, but half-time beckoned with them still in the lead, 21-14, and then they added a vital score against the run of play. Stedman Gans sparked the counter with a half-break and lovely offload to Le Roux, who was through the gap in a flash and then threw a pinpoint pass to Kriel, who went all the way from long range.

The 26-14 lead would have pleased White, and the try that opened the second half would have delighted him even more. Goosen produced a brilliant up-and-under despite being under big pressure from two defenders, wing Sebastian de Klerk made a fine aerial win and Kriel then made the initial break before Le Roux was, as is his trademark, in the right place at the right time to score.

Papier’s try was a brilliant piece of individual play as his team presented him with untidy, backfoot ball, but the scrumhalf spotted a hole in the defence and raced through it before swerving past the cover defence to dot down.

But White would have then been po-faced as Bordeaux scored three times in the next 15 minutes. But the smile was back as his team held on for a good win.

With Saracens beating Olympique Lyon later on Saturday night, the Bulls remained second in the final group standings and will have a home match in the last 16.

Ironically, White believes finishing second and getting a home match in the last 16 could boomerang on the Bulls.

“I would love to have a home knockout game in this competition, but that means we will play Dragons and Leinster away in the URC, come back for a home last-16 Champions Cup match and then an away quarterfinal before coming back to Loftus to play Munster.

“It will be helluva tough flying back and forth like that. But the nice thing is it shows the improvement and growth we’ve had in the Champions Cup. There is belief that we can win it, but we also need to understand that the big guns are now coming.

“It will be teams where 20 of the 23 are internationals playing against youngsters who are still growing and learning the ropes. I’m a realist and this competition now goes on steroids,” White said.

Scorers

BullsTries: Marcell Coetzee (2), Devon Williams, David Kriel, Willie le Roux, Embrose Papier. Conversions: Johan Goosen (5). Penalties: Jaco van der Walt (2).

Bordeaux-BeglesTries: Romain Buros, Adam Coleman, Madosh Tambwe, Tevita Tatafu (2), Paul Adadie. Conversions: Zack Holmes (3), Mateo Garcia (2).

SA rugby forever bonded with Kitch’s ‘high or low road’, but Jake says it’s too early for that 0

Posted on September 05, 2023 by Ken

South African rugby will forever be bonded with Kitch Christie’s famous ‘high road or the low road’ scenario before the 1995 World Cup triumph, but Bulls coach Jake White says it is still too early to consider his team as being at a similar crossroads ahead of their crunch United Rugby Championship match against the Sharks in Durban on Saturday.

Coach Christie said it was crucial that the Springboks beat defending champions and favourites Australia in the opening match of the 1995 World Cup and take the “high road” through the tournament; defeat would mean the “low road” requiring victories over England and New Zealand before the final. South Africa pulled off a sensational 28-18 win, setting them up for an unbeaten run through the tournament they hosted.

The Bulls, having lost last weekend to the Stormers in Cape Town, are now five points behind the defending champions in the South African Shield, having played an extra game. If the Sharks beat the Bulls with a bonus point at Kings Park, then they could be within another bonus-point win of the Pretoria side, with a game in hand.

But White, who has called the late Christie his mentor, is not stressing about the log at this stage.

“We’re not at the high road or low road point yet and it’s not a do-or-die game,” White said on Friday. “It’s still so open, although we do know Leinster are the pace-setters, they always have been.

“We beat the Sharks with a bonus point at Loftus, and if the Sharks beat the Stormers twice and we win this weekend, then we would be favourites again to win the conference.

“There are still a lot of permutations between now and the end of the tournament, and not every team will win every game at home. Winning a couple of matches away is the premium.

“But we will be up against one of the strongest provincial sides, although one thing I enjoy about the URC is that a team can beat anyone on any given Saturday. That’s exciting,” White said.

Nine current Springboks is what the Bulls, who will field Johan Goosen at fullback and Chris Smith at flyhalf, are up against. The combination of Smith and Goosen played in the pivotal game-management positions when the Bulls beat the Sharks 40-27 at Loftus Versfeld at the end of October, which is why White has made that selection again.

“The last time we played the Sharks we did that and it worked well, and we didn’t have Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie then,” White said. “It means we have two kickers and two passers and can move the ball away from flyhalf.

“I’ve heard it might rain in Durban too and the Sharks don’t play much in their own half, they have a good kicking game and Makazole Mapimpi is very good in the air.

“But it’s not just a reaction to them, it worked for us at home and it gives us two guys who understand how we want to play. It’s important that Bernard van der Linde can also kick with both feet at scrumhalf,” White said.

Bulls:Johan Goosen, Canan Moodie, Cornal Hendricks, Harold Vorster, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Chris Smith, Bernard van der Linde, Elrigh Louw, Cyle Brink, Marco Van Staden, Ruan Nortje (c), Ruan Vermaak, Mornay Smith, Johan Grobbelaar, Simphiwe Matanzima. Bench -Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Gerhard Steenekamp, Sebastian Lombard, Janko Swanepoel, Nizaam Carr, Embrose Papier, Lionel Mapoe, David Kriel.

Jake says whether his decision was right or wrong is only going to be decided at the end of the season 0

Posted on July 20, 2023 by Ken

Bulls coach Jake White said whether he was right or wrong to rest his first-choice players from European Champions Cup action and then they still lost to the Stormers in their United Rugby Championship derby in Cape Town is only going to be decided at the end of the season.

Despite bringing a fresh, best-available team to Cape Town to tackle the defending champions, the Bulls were humbled 37-27, allowing critics to wonder whether it was worth sending the second-stringers to Devon last weekend and being soundly beaten by Exeter Chiefs.

“We have five points from two games in the Champions Cup, both us and the Stormers do,” White pointed out. “The decision had nothing to do about today, it was not a measure of whether I was right or wrong.

“We will only measure that by June next year. There was no way the same team could play today after flying 26 hours in economy and only arriving back Monday lunchtime.

“We’ve lost four times in a row now to the Stormers, but we will see in June when we have three competitions on the go. If I was only concerned with European competition then maybe I would have done things differently.

“But my brief as director of rugby comes from a decision made by the board. Next year’s Currie Cup will be played Wednesday-Saturday-Saturday, which is a helluva ask. Plus we only have eight training days in January because of the travel,” White said.

The former Springbok coach said the naivety of his team was a concern, putting it down to inexperience.

“It didn’t help playing 20 minutes with 14 guys, but we showed moments of inexperience, which was disappointing,” White said. “There were four minutes of madness when they scored three of their four tries.

“You can’t say you should have won when you’ve conceded four tries, but our attack was held up on the Stormers’ line a couple of times. The Stormers really stormed the breakdown.

“They would rather concede penalties than the try, and defence coach Norman Laker has been there a long time. In fact their whole coaching staff has been there a long time, so they are much more fluent.

“I don’t enjoy losing, but it’s a complete and utter juggling act at the moment. We are still young, every player in the Stormers pack is older than his Bulls counterpart. We have six guys who are 23 or younger,” White said.

Jake has 1st-choice Bulls but says Stormers minus 3 Boks are still favourites 0

Posted on June 26, 2023 by Ken

Jake White may have his first-choice Bulls side back against a Stormers team that is missing a trio of injured Springboks, but he still said the home team will be the favourites in their United Rugby Championship derby in Cape Town on Friday night.

The Stormers will be without Evan Roos, their talismanic eighthman, exciting young lock Salmaan Moerat and experienced scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies, while White on Thursday named a Bulls team with nine Springboks in the starting line-up and two more on the bench.

But White said he did not read too much into who the Stormers are missing.

“I don’t think it’s a weaker Stormers team, nothing has changed. Our team is still young and in evolution, we’re still where we were last year – we’re developing,” White said.

“I like to think we’re playing better rugby than last year because of the added experience, but we are still a young team building together. We’ve not suddenly become a powerhouse senior team.

“If you look at the Stormers tight five, they are each a couple of years older than ours when you look man-for-man. And John Dobson has been coaching them for a long time.

“So I think they’re favourites. But it’s fantastic that the North/South derby has its aura back, the challenge is healthy and hopefully we do the rivalry justice,” White said.

Things have switched around dramatically from the old rendition of the derby when “10-man” Northern Transvaal relied on a robust, hardcore pack and Western Province, who had a ruthless backline, almost had a bounty out on flyhalf Naas Botha.

Now it is the Stormers who have the grizzled old hard men up front and the Bulls who have the exciting runners in the backs. Although the intensity of this derby could be like a Test match, White said he was hopeful there would still be bountiful space for his dashers.

“I like to believe there will still be space for them. These are good players who have opened up holes in Test rugby. I’m very proud of the good attacking backs we have, Chris Rossouw has worked really hard with them and we’ve had three guys called up for national duty this year, so I guess it is a bit like an old Western Province backline.

“We’ll need to be accurate when we have the ball and score some tries, because we’re not going to win by just keeping them out of our 22.

“But we do also have to be good enough not to give them entries into our 22 because I don’t see them going away from scrumming for penalties, kicking to the corner and then mauling for tries,” White said.

Bulls:Kurt-Lee Arendse, Cornal Hendricks, Lionel Mapoe, Harold Vorster, Canan Moodie, Johan Goosen, Embrose Papier, Elrigh Louw, Cyle Brink, Marco Van Staden, Ruan Nortje (c), Ruan Vermaak, Mornay Smith, Johan Grobbelaar, Gerhard Steenekamp. Bench -Bismarck du Plessis, Simphiwe Matanzima, Sebastian Lombard, Janko Swanepoel, Nizaam Carr, Zak Burger, Chris Smit, Stravino Jacobs.

  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • Thought of the Day

    John 15:16 – “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”

    Our Christian experience begins when the Holy Spirit starts working in our imperfect lives. An inexplicable restlessness and a feeling that nothing can give you the satisfaction you yearn for, could be the Spirit working in you.

    Even when God calls you and chooses you to serve him, there may be inner conflict and confusion because you are not always willing to do what God is asking of you.

    But this inner struggle is part of spiritual life … Commit yourself to God and open yourself to the inflowing of the Holy Spirit.

    It is by great grace that you were chosen by God to serve him and to live to the honour and glory of his name. Surrender unconditionally to the Lord and you will discover that your life gains new meaning and purpose.



↑ Top