Bulls will enjoy Stormers victory, but ‘haven’t won anything yet’

Bulls' Stedman Gans is tackled with the ball.

Bulls' Stedman Gans put in a top peformance against the Stormers. Picture: Christiaan Kotze / AFP

Published Mar 4, 2024


The final score will show a sizeable 18-point victory that saw the Bulls break their Stormers hoodoo, but Jake White insisted that his team won’t get carried away by the result for the rest of the URC.

The 40-22 triumph at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday night was a memorable one for White and his Bulls side, who had suffered seven consecutive defeats to the Capetonians.

It seemed like they would never get one over their arch-rivals in the United Rugby Championship over the past few years, but it all came together at the weekend as they scored four tries to grab a bonus point in front of the 50 026 spectators at a pumping Loftus. They made an excellent start to lead 19-5 in the first half, but allowed the Stormers back into the mix before half-time.

Flank Evan Roos pulled one back for the visitors, from a 5m line-out drive, and suddenly it was 19-15 at the break.

But the Bulls withstood an early second-half onslaught from the Stormers, and made the decisive breakthrough when Johan Grobbelaar and then Canan Moodie dotted down within seven minutes to stretch the lead to 33-15.

Scrumhalf Embrose Papier finished things off in fine style with a late bonus-point try.

“I am, obviously, over the moon that the monkey’s off the back, or as you call it, the north-south rivalry,” White said.

“They are a good team ... Not many teams would go 19-5 down and be 19-15 at half-time.

“We are obviously going to enjoy the fact that we’ve taken a long time to beat them, and we didn’t just beat them – we convincingly beat them.

“It could have been even bigger if we had taken our chances. In saying that, they also had chances.

“But at 19-5, it was probably the best we’ve played in all the fixtures together.”

The Bulls seemed to have the greater hunger from the start, and while the Stormers did well to fight their way back into the match, their discipline let them down.

They gave away too many penalties, and lost several line-outs as well. The Bulls pack were physical and efficient in the set pieces, and were precise in their ruck clean-outs and generated front-foot ball for flyhalf Johan Goosen and the backline to work with.

Papier’s box-kicks were also on point, and those high balls were chased with vigour by Springbok wings KurtLee Arendse and Moodie, who won a number of those aerial contests.

“I’m a lot happier now, with what happened (in this match),” White said.

“We could’ve quite easily lost that game. It wasn’t just (allowing the Stormers to get to) 19-15.

“Then they got those three chances just after half-time, and they could’ve gone ahead 22-19 – and then all of a sudden we would be playing catch-up as well.

“But I must reinforce that it doesn’t mean we’ve won anything. We’ve won a game, it’s a pool game and we happened to stay ahead of them.

“But we won nothing ... We are not going to get ahead of ourselves. You are not going to see things on social media where we start posting things about being the best team that’s ever played rugby.

“Part of being a coach is to get young boys to understand that.

“They are going into an (Springbok) alignment camp (this week), and they will probably enjoy the alignment camp a lot more in Cape Town when you’ve won than they would have having to climb on an aeroplane tomorrow, sit there and listen to all the things they’ve had to listen to for a while – and look on social media and how good certain teams are and how poor certain teams are.

“Humility is something we are really big on, and we haven’t won anything ... There is still a long way to go.

“If Leinster win (which they did, 33-20 against Cardiff on Saturday night), we stay second on the log (on 40 points, with Leinster on 44), and then we get Leinster there in two weeks’ time – we’ve got the Dragons first.

“Hopefully, we are still second when we get to Leinster, and then it’s one versus two and a great opportunity for us to show whether or not we are up to it – especially in Ireland against Leinster.”

There are 12 Bulls players who have been invited to the Springbok alignment camp starting in Cape Town today, and the Pretoria side will have another break until their next URC match against the Dragons in Newport, Wales on Saturday, March 23.