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Jake White: 'I’m sort of happy and sad – I know it sounds weird'

By Rugby365
Jake White, coach of the Vodacom Bulls (Photo by Gordon Arons/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White admitted that his team’s United Rugby Championship home play-off mission has become difficult, but certainly not impossible.

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The Bulls recorded a crucial 40-34 win over table-topping Glasgow Warriors at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

The Pretoria franchise headed into the Round 16 contest needing a bonus-point win to keep them in contention for the top four play-off spot – which they accomplished.

However, they failed to deny Glasgow Warriors two losing bonus points. A feat that did not sit well with Bulls boss Jake White.

Leading 37-10 after three quarters, the Bulls looked to have locked in the match thanks to tries by Armand van der Merwe, Cameron Hanekom, Elrich Louw and Canan Moodie.

However, a lack of composure in the closing stages saw Franco Smith’s Glasgow instigate a comeback at Loftus.

Tries by wings Kyle Steyn and Sebastian Cancelliere, as well as replacement Duncan Weir, narrowed the gap to six points (31-37) going into the final 10 minutes.

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“I’m sort of happy and sad – I know it sounds weird,” White said after the match at Loftus.

“For 60 minutes we were outstanding, probably some of the best rugby we played in a long time.

“Defensively we had their number, I just think we got naïve in the end with our plays.

Fixture
United Rugby Championship
Bulls
40 - 34
Full-time
Glasgow
All Stats and Data

“We started kicking contestables when we had the game set and match. Instead of kicking out, we give them line outs; giving them the ball at the halfway line and that is what they wanted.

“The intercept as well, we didn’t need to play there. I sort of hate myself for saying this but we should have been conservative at the backend of the game.

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“It is one of those challenges that we have. We are such a good attacking team, but I don’t want to be too hard on my team.

“But it is a good example of when we got to have leadership on the field to call what we want to try and execute.

“It is interesting. Now I sort of challenge the leadership and on Monday we will go through different scenarios where we can create a game plan and theory where everyone is on board.

“There is no right or wrong, we just want all the players to be on the same page.”

The South Africans are currently fourth with 56 points while the Warriors are at the summit with 60 points.

Leinster are second with 59 and defending champions Munster are third with 58.

United Rugby Championship

P
W
L
D
PF
PA
PD
BP T
BP-7
BP
Total
1
Glasgow
16
12
4
0
60
2
Leinster
16
12
4
0
59
3
Munster
16
11
4
1
58
4
Bulls
16
11
5
0
56
5
Stormers
16
10
6
0
50
6
Ulster
16
10
6
0
49
7
Edinburgh
16
11
5
0
48
8
Benetton
16
10
5
1
48
9
Connacht
16
9
7
0
44
10
Lions
16
8
8
0
44
11
Ospreys
16
8
8
0
40
12
Sharks
16
4
12
0
25
13
Cardiff Rugby
16
3
12
1
25
14
Scarlets
16
3
13
0
17
15
Gwent Dragons
16
3
13
0
16
16
Zebre
16
1
14
1
15

And with just two rounds remaining before play-offs, a top-four finish seems destined for the Bulls.

However, it is the top two finish that will be a challenge as White’s men face two challenging fixtures.

The Bulls host Benetton next week before an away fixture against Sharks in Durban on June 1.

“The two losing bonus points for Glasgow makes it difficult for us,” White said when asked about his team’s home play-offs state.

“If they got nothing today [Saturday], numerically there would have been an opportunity and it would have been easier.

“They [have a game against] Zebre, and I’m not knocking the Italian team. But in the last three years, they have struggled as a franchise.

“Therefore that could be a win for them [Glasgow] and five points, while we will have to face the Sharks, who might be Challenge Cup champions by then.

“[Our other fixture is] Benetton, who had our number a couple of years ago in the Rainbow Cup Final. A lot of those players play for Italy and won a couple of games in the Six Nations.

“So, I don’t for one minute think we have done enough.

“We have to make sure that we are playing our best rugby by the time we get to the backend of the competition and that is now.”

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f
finn 7 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

What a difference 9 months makes! Last autumn everyone was talking about how important versatile bench players were to SA’s WC win, now we’re back to only wanting specialists? The timing of this turn is pretty odd when you consider that some of the best players on the pitch in the SA/Ireland match were Osbourne (a centre playing out of position at 15), Feinberg-Mngomezulu (a fly-half/centre playing out of position at 15), and Frawley (a utility back). Having specialists across the backline is great, but its not always necessary. Personally I think Frawley is unlikely to displace Crowley as first choice 10, but his ability to play 12 and 15 means he’s pretty much guaranteed to hold down a spot on the bench, and should get a decent amount of minutes either at the end of games or starting when there are injuries. I think Willemse is in a similar boat. Feinberg-Mngomezulu possibly could become a regular starter at 10 for the Springboks, but he might not, given he’d have to displace Libbok and Pollard. I think its best not to put all your eggs in one basket - Osbourne played so well at the weekend that he will hopefully be trusted with the 15 shirt for the autumn at least, but if things hadn’t gone well for him he could have bided his time until an opportunity opened up at centre. Similarly Feinberg-Mngomezulu is likely to get a few opportunities at 15 in the coming months due to le Roux’s age and Willemse’s injury, but given SA don’t have a single centre aged under 30 its likely that opportunities could also open up at 12 if he keeps playing there for Stormers. None of this will discount him from being given gametime at 10 - in the last RWC cycle Rassie gave a start at 10 to Frans Steyn, and even gave de Klerk minutes there off the bench - but it will give him far more opportunities for first team rugby.

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