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Jake White castigates players for late game ‘naivety’ in Bulls-Stormers nail-biter

Referee  AJ Jacobs and Chris Smith. (Photo by Christiaan Kotze/Gallo Images)

Referee AJ Jacobs and Chris Smith. (Photo by Christiaan Kotze/Gallo Images)

(Photo by Christiaan Kotze/Gallo Images)

  • Bulls coach Jake White was not impressed by his team’s hurried approach to the half-way line to restart, late in Friday night’s 34-29 win over the Stormers.
  • The oversight allowed the Stormers to manufacture a try-scoring, potentially match-winning, opportunity that Juarno Augustus squandered.
  • “There is no law that says we have to run back to the half-way line and kick off,” said White.

Bulls coach Jake White was not impressed by his team’s hurried approach to the halfway line late in the game against the Stormers at Loftus on Friday night that gave the Capetonians a sniff at victory.

Were it not for Juarno Augustus spilling a gilt-edged, potentially match-winning, try-scoring chance inside the Bulls in-goal area, the hosts would not have taken the spoils 34-29.

READ | Bulls put five tries past Stormers in a thrilling Loftus win

White was particularly disappointed that his players allowed referee AJ Jacobs to rush them back to the halfway mark to restart the game after Tim Swiel slotted a penalty that brought the Stormers to within a converted try of victory with less than a minute left.

“There is no law in rugby that says when the penalty gets kicked over with 36 seconds left we have to run back to the halfway line and kick off,” said White after the thrilling preparation series match.

“If we are going to prepare to play Munster and Leinster (in the Rainbow Cup), there is no way they are going to run to the halfway line to kick the ball back to you so that you can come back at them.

“I understand that we want to keep the ball in play and we are trying to find a product. But this is also preparation for us as a team.

“It’s not just about running the ball all the time and making it look like a Sevens contest.

“We’re not going to get top sides giving [the ball away]. When Glasgow are playing Munster and a South African referee is blowing that game, he’s not going to say to them, ‘Hurry up!’

“In the context of that, I’d like to stress, when we were under the pump we didn’t have to run to the halfway line and kick off that quickly.

“We could have waited almost until the hooter went, [eaten up] 36 seconds, kicked it in the air, the hooter would have gone and I’ve got no doubt that the game would then be over.”

The Bulls scored five tries, including a penalty try, to the Stormers’ two. But the visitors kept themselves in touch with good goal-kicking from flyhalf Kade Wolhuter and his replacement Swiel, as well as a Leolin Zas pair of touchdowns.

Both teams showed a level of bravura that the preparation series was made for, running the ball with panache and finishing in style.

However, White believes that the “friendly” matches shouldn’t just sharpen things on the offensive side but also teach his players about game management, especially in crux moments such as the 80th minute on Friday night.

“I’d like to have seen what the ref would have done if we had walked slowly back to the halfway line because you can’t make rules up,” he said.

“But that’s a learning thing for us. I’m not for one minute saying that’s [a bad thing] but I would challenge that, because I cannot see any referee would tell Glasgow, Munster and Leinster to run back to the halfway line and kick off.

“I told my players that they shouldn’t have gotten sucked into that whole thing. That’s why I’m a bit disappointed that we weren’t sharp enough.

“But I put that down to inexperience. There’s young guys on the field.”

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