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Ken Borland

Jake satisfied but still wants Bulls to up their game 0

Posted on April 21, 2022 by Ken

The Bulls kept climbing the United Rugby Championship log at the weekend, overtaking the Sharks as their emphatic 55-20 win over the Dragons at Loftus Versfeld lifted them up into seventh place, but coach Jake White, although satisfied, still wants them to up their game.

“You’ve got to be proud of that performance, the way we are playing is nice and there’s good interplay between the backs and forwards,” White said.

“It’s nice to have a forward pack that can score from five metres out, but also backs who can score from fifty metres out. We’re not the finished product yet, but there is a lot to be happy about.

“We can still get better in all areas, although we are scrumming well, the maul is working and the backs are scoring tries. But to win this competition, we need to be better at everything.

“So that means having an all-round game, like Leinster, who can attack you with anything. There’s no one particular area in which we are struggling, but we will need to play a different game in the mud and wet of Europe,” White said.

The well-travelled World Cup winning coach gave credit to his team for getting the balance right between attack and defence, while heaping special praise on fullback Kurt-Lee Arendse, whose second try from 70 metres out is surely going to be a contender for try of the year.

“I really enjoyed the way we would score and then exit to halfway, it was clinical and well-executed. We want to get a balanced game and the balance is working right now.

“It helps to have a phenomenal fullback like Kurt-Lee. He’s not only scoring amazing tries but also kicks the ball 50-60 metres.

“He complements Harold Vorster and Lionel Mapoe, who are playing very well in midfield,” White said.

Nienaber a bit crabby over Bok 1st-half ill-discipline 0

Posted on July 19, 2021 by Ken

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber was a bit crabby over the ill-discipline his team showed in the first half, but otherwise he pronounced himself satisfied with the way they had gone in the first Test against Georgia at Loftus Versfeld on Friday night.

A string of penalties in the first quarter allowed Georgia to lead 9-5 and denied the Springboks much momentum. But once they gave themselves a foothold in the game with two tries in the last five minutes of the first half, they took a firm grip on the game in a rock-solid second half that saw South Africa ultimately win 40-9.

“The discipline was poor in the first half, but you have to credit Georgia as well because they put us under pressure until the back end of the first half. We all knew they would bring physicality but they caught us a little bit in the first 20 minutes. But that’s exactly why we were desperate to play a Test, we wanted a nice physical battle and we couldn’t have asked for better opposition for that.

“With no marker because we haven’t played for 20 months, it was difficult to know where we are at, but now we have a starting point. I don’t have worries but obviously we will work on the things that aren’t good and we probably have to improve in everything. We saw a notable change, what we wanted to see, in the second half when we imposed our game-plan on them more,” Nienaber said after his debut Test as head coach.

It was the Springbok forwards who bore the brunt of the responsibility for softening up the Georgians and captain Siya Kolisi said he was happy with the way his team responded.

“We didn’t hold back but we did not start as well as we wanted, we couldn’t get our maul and scrum going at the start, which is most important for us, we will never hide away from the set-pieces being important for us. Our discipline let us down too. But we wanted the same 2019 physicality and to be the Warriors, do the things that don’t require talent, that’s what we wanted to see today.

“We knew what Georgia are capable of and it was most important that we beat them and we responded well in the second half. But we need better discipline and we want to impose ourselves on the opposition more as individuals. We responded well but we still left a couple of opportunities out there,” Kolisi said.

Bulls pack was a sleeper until 3rd quarter laid platform for win over Sharks TITLE – Rainbow Cup rugby 0

Posted on June 23, 2021 by Ken

The much-vaunted Bulls pack was a bit of a sleeper in the first half of their decisive Rainbow Cup match against the Sharks at Kings Park at the weekend, but a thoroughly dominant third quarter laid the platform for a comfortable 34-22 win and Jake White said although it is the nature of coaching to always be critical of something, he was satisfied that their mission in Durban was accomplished.

With both sides scoring a try apiece in the first half, the Bulls held a narrow 13-10 lead at the break, but they had notched their crucial fourth, bonus point try by the hour mark. That assured them of their place in the Rainbow Cup final against Benetton in Treviso this weekend. The final quarter saw the Sharks fight back as the Bulls were given two yellow cards.

“I was very happy with our defence with 13 men because the Sharks have some really good attacking players, but I would have preferred to have 15 men finish the game. But our experience told at the end and it’s a difficult one to manage once we scored our fourth try because you want to protect players and give those on the bench a run, but it’s a balancing act because you don’t want to get caught out and you are also on the cusp of getting some momentum for the final.

“But we got what we wanted out of the game and the message the whole time to the players was to go for the win and play the way we always play. If it took until the 79th minute, we had to believe that the fourth try would come, and we had to back our intensity and keeping the ball in play. I’m very happy we showed we can handle the pressure,” White said.

Sharks coach Sean Everitt said his team did not have any right to make excuses for their defeat.

“We put ourselves in position to get the four tries we needed, we had six entries into the Bulls’ 22 in the first half alone, but we only converted one of them so we can’t make any excuses. We just weren’t able to convert, losing the ball over the line, and then things unravelled in the second half with soft penalties. There was ill-discipline at times too, which the players must take responsibility for.

“We need to cut down on our error-rate. We wanted to get the ball into the wider channels, get it through the hands, like in Aphelele Fassi’s good runs and the Siya Kolisi try. Unfortunately at times we just could not get the ball there when we had the opportunity to do that, which comes down to decision-making and sticking to the plan, not holding on to the ball instead of moving it,” Everitt said.

Jake wants Bulls to be flexible, so satisfied with ‘winning ugly’ 0

Posted on May 14, 2021 by Ken

Bulls coach Jake White wants his team to be flexible and so he was satisfied that they were able to ‘win ugly’ in their opening Rainbow Cup match against the Lions at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday night.

White had before the game promised an attacking approach if conditions were dry, and the Bulls started superbly, keeping ball in hand for two minutes from the kickoff and then scoring the opening try. But thereafter they were constrained by a watertight, rapidly approaching Lions defence and the soft underfoot conditions, only managing to cross the tryline again in the 66th and 80th minutes for a 22-9 win.

The victory and a bonus point would also have been in the bag much earlier if the Bulls hadn’t had three tries disallowed due to captain’s referrals.

“Sometimes you’ve got to win these sort of games and we found a way to win. The Lions were very good at the breakdown, they tried to slow us down all the time. To have four tries disallowed – I think the yellow card for a deliberate knock-on could maybe have been a penalty try – was helluva frustrating because you keep thinking you’ve put a bit of distance between you and the opposition.

“But we know everyone will be coming for us because we’ve won the last two trophies and today we had to vasbyt for the win. We started so well and we were probably seduced a bit by that, the players maybe thought it was like a training run. But then the Lions had so many players in the line … if we had turned them around more with little kicks then we could have found a bit more space behind them,” White said after the Bulls’ 13th successive win at home.

The Bulls dominated possession but at times they suffered from the rugby equivalent of bulimia – having an over-abundance of ball and generally keeping it in hand meant they also coughed up a lot of possession as the Lions dominated the breakdowns.

“We will work on not being sucked into playing too much rugby, sometimes we need to be a bit smarter. But we did end up playing into the wind in both halves because the wind turned … it was a bit extraordinary, something we’re not used to here. But it’s exciting times with guys like Elrigh Louw and Janko Swanepoel just out of the U21s, Mornay Smith is a young tighthead, Joe van Zyl, Stravino Jacobs and David Kriel are all young.

“But if you have too many youngsters then they can start to panic, so it’s nice for them to learn from the seniors exactly how to close off a game. I told the bench before the match that I was looking for composure at the end, for them to show maturity, and I was satisfied that they did. Lizo Gqoboka, Arno Botha and Morne Steyn are all Springboks, Jacques van Rooyen is very experienced, and it showed,” White said.

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