Marcell: 'It is a highlight in my career, but the job is not done'
Bulls captain Marcell Coetzee achieved a ‘career high’ when his team managed to upstage Irish giant Leinster at the RDS Arena on Friday.
However, the Bulls won’t be celebrating too much.
They have already shifted their focus to next week’s Final.
The Bulls booked their place in the United Rugby Championship Final with a thrilling 27-26 win over Leinster.
They will face the winner of Saturday’s second semifinal – between the Stormers and Ulster in Cape Town.
A Bulls purple patch delivered tries from Johan Grobbelaar and captain Marcell Coetzee and a 17-14 half-time lead.
Robbie Henshaw replied, adding to an early Dan Sheehan score, but a 52nd-minute penalty try, which landed Leinster captain James Ryan in the sin bin, had the Bulls 10 points clear.
Although Rory O’Loughlin added the hosts’ third try and replacement Cian Healy crossed right at the death, the defiant Bulls deservedly march on to face either the Stormers or Ulster next week.
Coetzee admitted the victory was sweet, especially as he has never been able to beat Leinster during his five-year stint with rival Irish province Ulster between 2016 and 2021.
“I have had a few goes at them,” he said of the rivalry between the two Irish teams, adding: “I always came [up] short with Ulster.
“Wearing the Bulls jersey and getting the win is a proud moment.
“It is definitely a BIG highlight in my career and something to be proud of forever, but the job is not done yet.
“We will prep the best we can,” he said about the looming Final.
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Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White described the win as ‘right up there’ in his storied coaching career – which includes a World Cup win (2007) with the Springboks, a Tri-Nations title (2004) with the Boks, an Under-21 World Cup (2002) with South Africa and a European Challenge Cup winner’s medal (2016) with Montpellier Hérault.
“[This is] an incredible Leinster team,” White said in his post-match analysis, adding: “They have dominated European rugby for the last few years.”
He spoke about the progress his team made from their Round One drubbing (3-31) at the hands of the same star-studded Leinster team back in September, to Friday’s impressive win.
“It is not just the fact that we beat them, it is that this group has grown significantly in the last seven months,” the Bulls boss added.
The Bulls skipper, Coetzee, said he drew on his vast experience of five years and 50-odd appearances for another Irish province, Ulster.
“I knew how quickly the weather can change,” he said, adding that the key was ‘sticking to the systems’ and executing the plan.
“We wanted to be in their faces and our kicking game was very good.
“The group responded very well,” he said of the dramatic change in conditions during the game – which saw rain bucketing down and allowing the Bulls to employ their tactics effectively.
The 30-time capped Springbok said they were aware of the need to ‘physically front up’ to a team loaded with international stars.
“We executed [our strategy] to perfection,” the 31-year-old loose forward said.
“However, the job is not done yet.
“It is a great victory, but there is still one more game to go,” he said of next week’s grand finale.