Bulls bracing for ‘benchmark’ clash with top-of-the-table rivals Leinster

Dylan Coetzee
Bulls director of rugby Jake White with the team.

Bulls director of rugby Jake White with the team.

Bulls director of rugby Jake White is looking forward to a massive top-of-the-table meeting with Leinster in Dublin this weekend.

The two sides lead the way in the United Rugby Championship with the Bulls four points behind Leinster at the summit of the table, making the clash even more important with the security of a home final potentially at stake.

Gauge where the team is at

White feels the game will be a good gauge of where his team are at considering how jam-packed the Leinster squad is with Ireland stars fresh off another Six Nations title.

“It is a great benchmark for us to see where we are as a group,” White explained.

“It is an away game playing against a very good team, with the bulk of that team having won back-to-back Six Nations. They have beaten the Boks in the World Cup – they didn’t win the World Cup but they had the recognition of beating the team that won the World Cup.

“I know it is going to be a great “test match” for us and a great test to see how good we are.”

The Bulls began their northern tour with a strong 31-10 win over the Dragons last time out, claiming an invaluable full house of points on the road.

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White admits the match was tough but getting the bonus point is like gold at this stage of the season, particularly with the top three teams so tightly contested.

“They were really good at trying to spoil everything,” he added.

“We couldn’t get much momentum. They stopped our maul, they got in among us at the breakdown. They were clever at scrum time to get the ball out quickly, so we didn’t really have much of a contest at scrum time.

“Getting a bonus point away from home is tough and we had to work until the last second. I’m chuffed that we got over the line, because a bonus point especially at this stage of the tournament is vital for us.

“It is not just desperation, any bonus point is a bonus.

Massive game this weekend

“We have a massive game this weekend and we want to try and make sure that we take that chance to finish in the top two. We know how important home play-offs are.

“To stay ahead of Glasgow by one point and in second was vital for us, especially away from home.

“They (Dragons) were very clever in the way they played against us, they made everything a contest. We had been playing really well off quick ball and that was one of those games where not only the breakdown, but set-piece was also very difficult to get the ball out.”

White singled out the first 10 minutes of the second half as an ideal example of how the Bulls want to play and underlined that is where Springboks duo Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie can break the game open.

“That is exactly how we want to play. We have some exciting backs there. If we can keep the ball alive and get some go-forward ball, then obviously guys like Kurt-Lee, Canan (Moodie) and guys like that can do damage,” he said.

Found a way to win

“That was a wonderful time for those 10-15 minutes, but they were very clever in how they sucked us in and how not to play like that.

“I’m really happy that we found a way to get through that game with problems we haven’t had before. It was the first time we had teams doing certain things to us, scrum, lineout and breakdown time, and it was good that we found a way.

“I think we probably took too long to find a way, the whole first half and a bit of the second half to figure out what we needed to do. But hopefully that will be a learning curve for us, when a team does things we don’t expect, the quicker we can adapt the better.”

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