Bulls director of rugby White delighted with committed away win over Lions

  • Bulls director of rugby Jake White did not underestimate the significance of their 31-15 win over the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday.
  • The win meant the Bulls had started their United Rugby Championship campaign on the right foot.
  • White was also happy with how his team didn’t deviate from what was working for them.

Bulls director of rugby Jake White did not underestimate the scale of their 31-15 win over the Lions in their United Rugby Championship opener at Ellis Park on Saturday.

While the Bulls were in charge of proceedings for large swaths of the game, they also allowed the Lions to find a way back at some point.

White knows the importance of away wins. After all, it was his proteges who beat Leinster in one of last season’s URC semi-finals in Dublin.

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He was impressed with the way his charges showed character in keeping the Lions’ game at bay.

“Getting the away win is a huge bonus for us because that’s the trend of the tournament. You have to get away wins,” White said.

“I think we left a few points there, but I appreciated the way we showed composure. At one point it looked like we could let our hair down and try.

“They equalized so the way we showed composure and the reserves did well. You don’t want to put in reserves when you’re against.”

White didn’t have many areas for improvement but was equally pleased with how they kept pace with the Lions despite having a shorter pre-season.

White also mentioned that the match was their first since their epic final against the Stormers, which made the success all the more important.

“We could have kicked a little more and the talk this week was that the Lions were in good shape,” White said.

“They run on the athletics track there, so we thought the only way to challenge that was to keep the ball to see how fit they were.

“Since they had more time to prepare, we were happy with the way we played and this game was the first time we played since the final.”

White was also happy with the way his proteges kept up their game, although he sometimes felt the Lions were pulling them level.

“We almost got sucked into their style of play because they’re a very scrappy team,” White said.

“They don’t mind losing small battles because they’ll make things disjointed, but what they can’t afford is putting numbers on the ball at the breakdown.

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“That comes with a different challenge in terms of engaging in the breakdown or moving the ball wide.

“We got sucked into that style of play, but I liked that we found a way to play despite their unpredictable style.

“We found a way not to get sucked in.”

Charles P. Patton