Africa-Press – South-Africa. Bulls director of rugby Jake White did not undervalue the scale of their 31-15 win against the Lions in their United Rugby Championship opener at Ellis Park on Saturday.
While the Bulls were in charge of proceedings for large swathes of the game, they also allowed the Lions to find a way back in at one point.
White knows the significance of away wins. After all, it was his charges who felled Leinster in one of last season’s URC semi-finals in Dublin.
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He was impressed with how his charges showed character to keep the game Lions at bay.
“Getting the away win is a massive bonus for us because that’s the trend of the tournament. You have to get some away wins,” White said.
“I think we left a couple of points out there, but I enjoyed the way we showed composure. At some point, it looked like we could let our hair down and have a go.
“They equalised, so the way we showed composure and the reserves did well. You don’t want to put in reserves when you’re up against it.”
White didn’t have a lot of areas of improvement to worry about, but was also chuffed at how they kept at the Lions’ tempo despite a shorter pre-season.
White also mentioned that the game was their first since their epic final against the Stormers, making the success all the more important.
“We could have kicked a bit more and the talk this week was that the Lions are fit,” White said.
“They run around on the athletics track there, so we thought the only way to challenge that was by keeping the ball to see how fit they are.
“Considering they had longer to prepare, we were happy with how we played and this game was the first time we played since the final.”
White was also happy with how his charges kept to their way of playing, even though he felt at times the Lions dragged them to their level.
“We almost got sucked into their style of play because they’re a very scrappy side,” White said.
“They don’t mind losing small battles because they’ll make things scrappy, but what they can’t afford is to put numbers on the ball at the breakdown.
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“That comes with a different challenge in terms of committing to the breakdown or moving the ball wide.
“We got sucked into that style of play, but I enjoyed the fact that we found a way to play despite their unpredictable style.
“We found a way to get out of being sucked in.”