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Heavily penalised Bulls still found a way to win, says beaming Jake White

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The Pretoria outfit

Mornay Smith, Cornal Hendricks and Ruan Nortje of the Bulls try to stop Abner van Reenen of the Stormers. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN – THE 14-man Bulls had to absorb wave after wave of attacks from the Stormers in the final 10 minutes, and the fighting spirit they showed made coach Jake White “really proud” of their efforts on Saturday night.

It wasn’t always a spectacle, but the Pretoria outfit held on for a 20-16 victory at Cape Town Stadium to make it two wins out of two in the Rainbow Cup SA.

With the Stormers coming out flying after a number of enforced selection changes, the Bulls changed their usual style by looking for space in the Stormers half through Morné Steyn’s boot.

That didn’t result in a slower game, though, with Steyn and scrumhalf Embrose Papier speeding things up at times through quick taps and grubber kicks.

But the courage displayed in defence from Duane Vermeulen’s team was remarkable, as they conceded only a single try to Stormers No 8 Evan Roos, with Bulls right wing Madosh Tambwe claiming two touchdowns with a couple of superb finishes.

Referee Stuart Berry also penalised the visitors heavily, particularly in the scrums, and the Bulls had to rally in the last 10 minutes after Nizaam Carr was given a yellow card for a dangerous tackle.

“We conceded 19 penalties to eight. So, to get a result and win the game when you’ve conceded so many penalties, and obviously a yellow card, is pleasing,” White said afterwards.

“I mean, I’m really proud. We’ve won a game again with 14 men in the back-end of a game. I think that the stats were 43 minutes ball-in-play, which is an incredible stat. Forty-three minutes of ball-in-play rugby means that guys had to work hard.

“And as I mentioned previously, 19 penalties to eight… We had a lot of opportunities, which we never finished. And we still found a way to win, which is always pleasing because the group’s growing as we stay together more.

“But I mean, it’s something we are going to have to look at during the week. I think it wasn’t just the scrums. As I said, I think there are a couple of situations there (where) we’ve got to be a bit more clever.”

Lock Ruan Nortjé secured the victory in the last move by stealing yet another Stormers lineout, an area White admitted that his team had targeted, especially with the home side missing first-choice locks Salmaan Moerat and JD Schickerling.

The No 5 on the day, Marvin Orie, also went off in the first half for a head injury assessment, from which he didn’t return.

Now it’s the unbeaten Sharks up next for the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday (6.15pm kick-off). “This is a good (Stormers) team. I just looked during the warm-up for the match: there are 10 or 12 players who are originally from the Western Cape in our team – Embrose, Chris Smith, who was at Sacs, Zak (Burger) and Stravino (Jacobs), and the list goes on… Nizaam Carr, Grobbies (hooker Johan Grobbelaar) and those guys,” White said.

“This is a head office of South African rugby, the Western Cape area, and you saw with the school matches how well the Western Cape guys can play rugby. I am really happy that we can come to the Cape from the north and get a win under the belt.”