Bulls' message to the North
REACTION: The Bulls sent a clear message ahead of the United Rugby Championship at Loftus Versfeld on Friday.
The Bulls’ last visit to the North was not one of their finest moments.
The side sufferered a shocking 8-35 defeat to Benetton in the Rainbow Cup finals in June.
However, since then the Bulls have been in fine form and their performance against the Western Province on Friday has clearly emphasised not only their superiority in South African rugby but the threat their pose to Europe.
The Pretoria franchise cruised to their second consecutive Currie Cup Final with an empathic 48-31 win over the Western Province.
The defending Championship dominated proceedings from the kick-off and raced to a 17-0 lead after just 10 minutes of play.
Speaking after the match, Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White praised his ‘outstanding’ team.
“I am very happy with how we played, think you can’t expect a full 80 minutes from a team who is relatively new to each other,” White told reporters.
“We basically won the game in the first 20 minutes and some of the players were just outstanding.
“The accuracy, the control and the understanding amongst the players on the field were incredible,”
‘No one-trick pony’
Since White took over at the Bulls last year, he has been determined to develop them into a team that can switch between a forward-based strategy and an expansive brand of rugby.
And thus far his plan has been reaping benefits.
Arno Botha, Marcell Coetzee and Ruan Nortje were solid in the pack – laying the perfect platform for the backs.
While the backline players like Johan Goosen, Cornal Hendricks and Zak Burger were lethal, causing major headaches to the WP’s defence.
“I have been adamant that we don’t want to be a one-trick pony, we just don’t want to play one style,” White said.
“Obviously as the Bulls, we pride ourselves in our forward pack, our scrums and mauls – that is our DNA and we don’t want to go too far away from that – but you should ask different questions on attack with your backs and with certain players around line-outs or the back of lineouts.
“The style is bearing fruits and I am hoping that we get better because after the Currie Cup Final the matches are only going to get tougher,”
When asked about the value Goosen adds to the team, White explained: “When I coached the Brumbies, I was assisted by Steven Larkham and I just saw the value of having a ten that not only sees the space but has the ability to actually put the ball in that space, especially when he is so close to the line and Johan Goosen is no different.
“Yes our forwards got front-foot ball and it was good, but before that Goosen’s game control and his understanding of what to do as well his follow up was phenomenal,”