Coach Jake White lauded his bench for claiming another late win in the Currie Cup final against the Sharks at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, but this time the Bulls left it the latest of all their comebacks as they won with a try with just 72 seconds of extra time remaining.
Replacement loose forward Arno Botha, the senior member of the Bulls’ version of ‘The Bomb Squad’, scored both of their tries in the final, but it was the second one that will be remembered for many years to come as he reached over the line to break the 19-19 deadlock and seal a 26-19 win.
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“It was incredible. With Covid, no crowd and the lightning stopping play in the first half, the team just had to adapt all the time and it will definitely be a final that will be remembered for a long time,” White said.
“I’m so proud of the team and I really enjoyed the way the bench came on and handled the pressure. Arno is one of our ‘captains’. He spoke well to the team and helped keep them calm.
“We’ve given guys like flyhalf Chris Smith and the reserve front row a lot of game time this season, where other teams have played their key guys for 80 minutes every game. I felt the time we have given the bench was a telling factor today, especially in injury time and extra time.”
The scrum was one of the few amenities where the Bulls had a clear advantage over the Sharks, but with referee Jaco Peyper, who controlled the feisty match extremely well, deciding not to make the final a penalty fest, the home side were rewarded only once with a penalty at the set-piece.
It did come at a crucial time though, as it set in motion the events that would lead to Botha’s first try, cutting the deficit to 19-16 in the 64th minute.
“The character we showed was amazing,” White said.
“It wasn’t our best game but it’s very good for the team to still win in that situation.”