Blue Bulls coach Jake White was very proud with how his team finished the Currie Cup Final against the Sharks at Loftus Versfeld in Tshwane.
CAPE TOWN – In some ways, Jake White believed it was destiny that his Bulls team would win Saturday’s Currie Cup final against the Sharks at Loftus Versfeld.
In a dramatic finish, replacement loose forward Arno Botha scored his second try in the last minute of extra time to clinch a 26-19 victory for the hosts.
The match was suspended for more than half-an-hour in the opening stanza due to a threat of lightning, with the score at 6-3 to the Bulls.
A delighted White noted, though, in a post-match TV interview that there was something to read into the fact that the delay began in the 24th minute.
“This year, we’ve had Covid. Then we had the game stopped for lightning, and it was quite ironic – it was in the 24 minutes when it stopped, and this is the 24th Currie Cup that we’ve won today!” the smiling former Springbok coach said.
“When we were 6-3 up, they were all very excited, but 10 minutes later, we were 13-9 down. So, it was a very different team talk at half-time.”
White praised the tenacity of his reserves, who engineered the turnaround late in the second half. The likes of Arno Botha, Jan Uys and Embrose Papier added some physicality and spark to a Bulls outfit that battled to match the Sharks’ energy for most of the encounter.
The Bulls forwards defended a series of mauls close to their line with the Sharks leading 19-9 deep into the final quarter.
They managed to get out of their 22, with Botha scoring his first try to make it 19-16, and then replacement flyhalf Chris Smith landing a penalty to level matters at 19-19 before extra time.
Smith then had a chance to finish the deal with a three-pointer after the hooter had done, but was unable to slot the ball through the uprights, and the teams had to go to two 10-minutes halves of extra time.
No points were scored in the first 10 minutes, with both Smith and Bosch missing shots at goal.
It was almost time up in the second half of extra time when the Bulls rumbled all the way from their own half into the Sharks 22, and 18 phases later, Botha reached out to score the decisive try.
“It’s fantastic. Considering we had a chance on the hooter there… That’s why it is so difficult to win a Currie Cup. Eleven years we’ve waited, and I can understand why – because if you get a chance, you’ve got to take it,” the coach said.
“Very, very proud. Very chuffed with the way they finished. A lot of people would’ve thought when we were down so far with a couple of minutes to go, it was highly unlikely that we would win.”
Sharks coach Sean Everitt expressed his disappointment with the defeat in the post-match press conference, but refused to blame Bosch for his five missed goal-kicks.
“I’m not disappointed that he didn’t kick everything over. He’s done it time and time again for us this year. It’s like golfers – you have a bad day, and maybe today he wasn’t up to the standard that we are used to. But, that guy has been amazing for us.
“Like I said during the week, he pulled us out of the trenches, and unfortunately, today it didn’t go his way. Morné missed kicks, and Chris Smith missed one to win the game after 80 minutes. So, we can look at all the kickers in that respect, if you like,” Everitt said.