Jake: Bulls decisions helped us

    2013-07-28 12:26

    Pretoria - Brumbies coach Jake White says the Bulls’ decisions to decline three goal-kicking opportunities in the final quarter of the match assisted his team in securing a 26-23 victory in their Super Rugby semi-final at Lotus Versfeld, Pretoria on Saturday.

    “The players said they grew a bit of a leg on the basis that they weren't going for poles, it almost I suppose helped us a bit because we kept saying ‘they are leaving the door open’,” White said after the match.

    “I don’t know what the reason for that was, considering that they took Ralepelle off and they had a new hooker, and then you have the best goal-kicker in the competition on the field.”

    As it happened: Bulls v Brumbies

    After the Bulls obtained the lead for the first time in the match in the 60th minute, captain Dewald Potgieter opted to go for the sideline rather than going for the points on three occasions in a 10 minute period towards the end of the match.

    All three times the Bulls failed in their attempt to score from the lineout and it ultimately backfired for the Pretoria side.

    Brumbies centre Tevita Kuridrani scored with a minute to spare to ensure his side a place in next week’s Super Rugby final against the Chiefs in Hamilton, New Zealand.

    Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said the logic behind Potgieter’s decision was that the Brumbies had pinned his team in their quarter of the field and in going for the lineouts, his side kept the tourists in their half.

    “He felt like keeping them down there and if you look at the whole evening getting out of our half - we weren’t on top of that area of our game,” Ludeke said.

    “His feeling was to keep them down there and the pressure is on them as they can’t get out of their half.”

    The first 10 minutes belonged to the Brumbies as they put 10 points on the board in this period to leave the Bulls reeling.

    The Australians fired the opening salvo as inside centre Christian Lealiifano succeeding with a penalty three minutes into the match.

    The visitors further showed their intent to dominate the set phases as they out-muscled the Bulls in the first scrum of the match in the fifth minute, enforcing a penalty from a kickable position.

    Lealiifano pulled his penalty attempt to the right that would have given his team a psychological six-point lead early in the match.

    The missed opportunity, however, came at a small price as they found their way over the whitewash three minutes later to score the first try of the evening.

    Danger man Henry Speight lived up to his reputation as playmaker and showed up the Bulls' defence.

    When he was finally chased down, he managed to offload to fullback Jesse Mogg to score the try, with Lealiifano converting, to extend their lead to 10 points.

    The Bulls' plight was further complicated with Steyn missing his first attempt at goal in the 14th minute.

    Two minutes later the Bulls reduced the deficit when outside centre JJ Engelbrecht powered his way over the tryline, with Steyn's attempt going wide of the posts.

    The Bulls flyhalf finally found the target in the 22nd minute to bring his side within two points of the Brumbies.

    However, the visitors pulled back another three points with Leali'ifano succeeding with his attempt, while the Bulls responded with three points of their own 10 minutes from the half-time break.

    Lealiifano had the final say in the first half with the No 12 bringing an end to the tit-for-tat kicking to hand his side a five-point lead going into the break.

    The Bulls started the second period with great intent and came painstakingly close to scoring shortly after the kickoff with Grant Hattingh being held up over the line.

    Steyn, however, gathered the three points through a penalty conversion to again get his side within two points of the Brumbies.

    The Bulls flyhalf and Lealiifano continued to exchange kicking duties two more times until the hosts took the lead for the first time in the match in the 51st minute when Steyn landed his sixth penalty of the game.

    The plot, however, reached farcical levels as Potgieter opted to go for the sideline rather than going for the points on three occasions.

    All three times the Bulls failed in their attempt to score from the lineout and it ultimately backfired for the Pretoria side.

    Potgieter's earlier doubtful decisions, however, came back to haunt him as Brumbies outside centre Tevita Kuridrani crossed the whitewash to silence the Loftus faithful, with Lealiifano ending the match as he started it, with a conversion.

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