Home Sport Can in-form Bulls keep Stormers at bay in all-SA URC final showdown?

Can in-form Bulls keep Stormers at bay in all-SA URC final showdown?

40

Jake White’s team went down 30-26 at Loftus Versfeld in January and then 19-17 in the Mother City in April, and it was especially in the away game that the Bulls looked flat.

Blue Bulls vs Western Province at Loftus Versfeld. File Picture: Duif du Toit Touchline Photo

Cape Town – The Bulls might have lost both their United Rugby Championship (URC) round-robin matches against the Stormers, but John Dobson feels that the Pretoria side have improved ahead of Saturday’s final at Cape Town Stadium.

Jake White’s team went down 30-26 at Loftus Versfeld in January and then 19-17 in the Mother City in April, and it was especially in the away game that the Bulls looked flat.

White expressed his disappointment afterwards about how his team didn’t fire a shot on attack, and that “at times, we looked a little bit disorganised” after coming under pressure in the set-pieces and the breakdown, which hampered their rhythm with ball-in-hand.

ALSO READ: Dramatic win for Stormers sets up home URC final against Bulls

But since then, the Bulls have beaten Benetton 46-29, Glasgow 29-17, Ospreys 38-31 (in Wales), Sharks 30-27 and then produced their best performance of the season in getting the better of the mighty Leinster 27-26 in Friday’s semi-final in Dublin.

And youngster Canan Moodie has been a breath of fresh air on attack and has added to the new dynamic the Bulls possess alongside the likes of Kurt-Lee Arendse and Madosh Tambwe.

ALSO READ: Praise for giant-killing Bulls after win over Leinster

“I thought the Bulls were outstanding (Friday night). It was very important for us to get the result – we would’ve lost a bit of all the hard work that we’ve put in if we weren’t in this final,” Dobson said after the Stormers came from behind to beat Ulster 17-15 in Saturday’s semi-final in Cape Town.

“So, I felt the pressure ramp up a bit, but it is surreal. I think so (that the pressure ramped up after the Bulls win). We did a lot of work to win the South African Shield – it was very close – and we didn’t then not want to be at the sharp-end of the tournament.

“Ja … I think they’ve got a great power game, which has always been the case. I think the way they are looking for the wider (channels) … They are playing their style and a bit more tempo and offloading – it has evolved quite a bit.

“I think we’ve seen a sort of similarity amongst the three South African teams who made the play-offs, which perhaps wasn’t there a few months ago – a bit more similar. So, the Bulls have definitely evolved.”

White has insisted that his team adopt an attacking mindset this season, and wants his backs and forwards to feed off each other with ball-in-hand.

But they used a more streetwise approach at the RDS Arena on Friday night as they took on Leinster physically and had the edge in the scrums and line-outs.

“I saw the Crusaders made 225 tackles in a semi-final today and won against the Chiefs. That’s the kind of game you’ve got to play sometimes. It’s not always about scoring tries … (Saturday) it was about defending and keeping Leinster out, and I am obviously very happy with that,” the Bulls coach said.

But that doesn’t mean the Stormers – who made life difficult for themselves in the second half by kicking penalties into touch instead of going for the posts – will change their style for the final.

“I don’t think we are going to change too much tactically. It’s more about correcting and implementing the tactics that we wanted to implement today.

“We did have a plan with our kicking, but somehow our kicking wasn’t where we wanted it to go. So, we need to be more accurate with that.

“But we are not going to sell a change to this team now – nor should we. We have been playing play-offs rugby … We are not a team that – as you saw in the lead-up to Manie’s drop goal (missed attempt) – we are not the best multi-phase team that gets to phases seven, eight and nine.

“We sometimes lose shape – we are not a Leinster in that respect. We want to strike off the exit or a turnover, and that’s the thing. Those opportunities exist in the play-offs, so we are not going to change too much.”

Previous articleHeads rolling in Namibia over President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Dollar$Gate
Next articleMax Verstappen tells Charles Leclerc to ‘stay on it’ after Baku heartbreak