Jake: 'This is how you get the spectators back'
The Bulls are able to put the kind of product on the table that will fill up stadiums.
This is the view of the Bulls’ Director of Rugby Jake White, following his team’s nail-biting win over the Springbok-laden Sharks at the weekend.
Flyhalf Chris Smith kicked an injury-time drop-goal to send the Bulls into the semifinals in dramatic fashion – with a 30-27 win.
With the momentum having shifted several times in the last 10 minutes, the sides were locked at 27-all and heading for extra time when Smith landed the match-winning kick with the clock approaching 84 minutes.
It had been a tight affair for the most part, with the sides tied at 13-all at half-time – following tries for Madosh Tambwe and Mbongeni Mbonambi.
Marcell Coetzee and Cornal Hendricks went over early in the second period, as the Bulls looked to have taken a decisive grip on the match.
But the Sharks responded through Jaden Hendrikse and Sikhumbuzo Notshe, before Smith’s vital late intervention.
The Bulls boss, White, said it could have gone either way in those theatrical final 10 minutes.
“That is why people come and watch,” White said about the dramatic ending to the game.
“The Bulls supporters will now keep coming back.
“It was a fantastic game of rugby.”
He added that the URC has won over many doubters and will lure back the crowds once the government lifts the 50 percent cap on spectators in stadiums.
“At first everyone was a bit sceptical about the URC, but any supporter who wasn’t sure about the URC will look at that game and go: ‘That is something I could come back and watch again’.
“I am sure it is not nice for Sean [Everitt, the Sharks coach], but that is sport.”
White described it as a “special day” that will draw even bigger crowds.
“The spin-off of this game – albeit it was the last play of the match – is that I can’t think any family or person that watched that game is not going to watch the Bulls again.
“Hopefully we will get to full-house crowds soon, then we can hopefully have capacity crowds again soon.
“If we keep playing like that, there won’t be a reason why we won’t get the crowds.”
(Article continues below video …)
As a result of the nail-biting victory over the Sharks, the Bulls travelled to Dublin on Sunday – where Irish giants Leinster await in the semifinal at the RDS Arena on Friday.
White admitted his team is a vastly different outfit from that which lost 3-31 to the Irish champions in Round One in Dublin back in September last year.
“To get Leinster first up – when they have just come off a three-month pre-season and with all their Irish internationals – was always going to be a tough ask,” the Bulls coach said.
“We knew it was going to be a tough start, but we believed that if we keep on working – and this group is still relatively young – we will get there.
“Coaches and teams want to end the season playing your best rugby.
“As I said before, it is immaterial now what happened before – in the pool stages.
“Now it is a one-off game and you have top ensure you are good enough to win this one-off game.
“That is the way you play knock-out rugby,” he said of their squeaker over the Sharks this past weekend.
“It is not going to get any easier.
“Leinster, after [their 76-14 rout of Glasgow Warriors] last week, is going to be rampant this week.
“Now we get another chance to measure ourselves against an international side – Leinster.”