Jake: 'We will get it right'
Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White is not about to throw the towel in, despite his team’s demoralising back-to-back United Rugby Championship losses to the Stormers (27-37) and Sharks (20-47).
Despite the ‘pain’ of watching his team slip to fourth on the standings and the defending-champion Stormers opening a 10-point gap, White is adamant his team will be back “stronger and better”.
On Old Year’s eve the Sharks recorded their sixth URC victory from nine starts, brushing aside the Bulls in Durban.
White spoke about the ‘power of the pack’ the Sharks brought to the game in Durban at the weekend – players like Siyamthanda Kolisi, Eben Etzebeth, Thomas du Toit, Mbongeni Mbonambi and Retshegofaditswe Nché showing their class.
“Once they play their power game, they get the ball in our 22 and use their pack of forwards, they are good enough to score against anybody,” he told @rugby365com.
“It was very difficult for us to stop their power.
“It was difficult with 15 [players on the field], it was almost impossible with 13 [players on the field],” he said of the yellow cards of Canan Moodie (in the 30th minute for a cynical foul, deliberate knock-on) and Cyle Brink (37th minute for repeated infringements, offside).
That saw the Bulls go from 13-9 up to trailing 13-30 at the end of an extended first half.
Despite the losses of the last two rounds and the disciplinary issues – 36 penalties, four yellow cards, of which one became a red card – White was adamant that his team is not out of the running yet.
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“We will get it right,” the Bulls boss said.
“One thing about sport is it takes a while.
“This time last year we were in the same boat, bottom of the standings and wondering whether we will get into the play-offs and we did.
“That is the character of what we have to do – look inward and see where we can improve.
“We played against a pack with five Springboks. You can’t fast-track that [getting experience].
“It is tough, very tough. The players have to grow and develop.
“The players must go through this and it’s painful, but I am confident that we will get it right.
“They are a good bunch of guys and they are hurting, but they will get it right.
“At times you must give credit, this [Kings Park] is a tough place to play.
“They are a very good team and once they turned the screws, got in front and carried on with their power game, it became an uphill battle.
“We fought bravely, but we cannot make up things.
“It will not get easier, but we just got to make sure we get things right.”
The Bulls now hit the road – with three away games in January.
They face the Dragons in a URC outing this coming Friday, before back-to-back European Cup encounter against Exeter Chiefs (at home) and Lyon (away). They conclude the month with an away game in the URC against Scarlets.
Bulls captain Ruan Nortje also touched on the issue of discipline.
“Against a world-class team, it will be difficult to come back,” Nortje said.
“All credit to the Sharks for putting us under so much pressure.
“We must take this on the chin because there is lots to take and learn out of this game.”