Jake White’s Vodacom Bulls won for a 21st successive time at Loftus to bury Western Province and end the visitors miserable Currie Cup campaign, writes Mark Keohane. The Sharks will face the Bulls in the final.
Province were unlikely semi-finalists after a surprise win against the Sharks in Durban a week ago, but in the first 30 minutes the visitors to Pretoria would have wished they’d never gone through the effort of beating the Sharks last weekend.
This match, as a contest, was over after 15 minutes and the second half proved anxious only for a serious punter.
I had the Bulls to win by 15 and they won by 17.
But they were 30 points better on the night – and the gulf between the two teams was closer to 30 than the final 17 winning margin.
The Bulls led 24-5 after 15 minutes and 38-12 at halftime.
Province were never going to recover from that kind of beating.
White would have taken a one point win, but this was probably the most comfortable semi-final he has ever had to oversee.
The Bulls, captained by loose-forward Marcel Coetzee and marshalled by flyhalf Johan Goosen, were emphatic in the opening half. Goosen kicked eight from eight, but his performance extended beyond the accuracy off the tee.
There is so much to like about the way the Bulls play and it is difficult to bemoan the way they concede late points. One gets the feeling that they don’t care about giving up a try because they back themselves to go straight back and score one of their own.
For now this indifferent attitude towards defence does not have consequences, but in the United Rugby Championship the defence will have to improve.
The Currie Cup theme has been one of try scoring and in this first of two semi-finals there were 11 tries scored, with the Bulls getting six and Province getting five.
For those with little affection for the Currie Cup, that statistic is ammunition to argue the weakness of a competition in which eleven tries are scored in a semi-final.
Province got five and the question is how?
The Bulls got six and the question is how was it not more?
The Bulls were good in the first half and Province were spectators.
The contest was over before the players changed ends.
There was little to enthuse from Province and plenty to make the Bulls smile.
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Nationally, with an eye on the Springboks end of year tour, Goosen took another step towards an international recall while loose-forward Elrich Louw impressed.
Hooker Jan-Hendrik Wessels will be better for the experience of the semi-final and it was good to see Jacques du Plessis get the final 20 minutes. His versatility, as a back row and second rower, will interest Bok coach Jacques Nienaber.
A week ago I congratulated White on 20 successive home wins. His response was that it meant nothing if the Bulls didn’t get the job done in the next fortnight.
I congratulated him by text again tonight and he didn’t have to reiterate that a semi-final win would mean nothing if there wasn’t a final win the next weekend.
The Bulls will face the Sharks in a repeat of last season’s Currie Cup final.
Earlier this year we saw what a battle that was and it won’t be any easier a week from now.
But right in this moment, White’s message to his Bulls will be to enjoy the win against Province and enjoy the weekend.
A satisfied Bulls supporter in young Mr Joubert clocked out at half-time.
— 𝓙𝓾𝓪𝓷𝓭𝓻𝓮 𝓙𝓸𝓾𝓫𝓮𝓻𝓽 (@JuandreJoubert) September 3, 2021
The Sharks beat Griquas 28-24 in Durban.
Griquas scored a 78th minute try to reduce the deficit to four points, but having been competitive for the first 35 minutes, never threatened to win the match in the second half.