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By Athenkosi Tsotsi

Sports Reporter

White pleased to see below-par Bulls digging deep for victory

Benetton were the better team in the second half, but the Bulls managed to hold on.

Bulls director of rugby Jake White praised his players for finding a way to win when they were not at their best in the United Rugby Championship quarter-final against Benetton, saying they showed character.

The side from Pretoria secured a 30-23 victory against their visitors from Treviso, Italy, in front of their supporters at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

The win means the Bulls will meet Leinster in the semi-finals at Loftus this Saturday (4pm kick-off).

‘We found a way to win’

White’s immediate reaction after the game was to praise his players for how they saw off the game, as Benetton could have defeated them.

“The one thing that’s great about rugby is when you don’t play well and you win,” White said in his post-match press conference.

“The one thing I’m happy about, it’s like a bittersweet feeling, is we found a way to win. We have grown as a squad, and I think we would have lost that game two years ago.

“Even the way we closed it off; it looks like a normal thing, but I can see we have learnt over the last couple of seasons. So, the understanding, control at the end and the way they found a way to win, let’s be fair, the last block of defence was outstanding.”

Hard-fought battle

The Bulls went into the break leading 17-8 thanks to two tries from Kurt-Lee Arendse and seven points through the boot of Johan Goosen.

In the second half, Benetton were the better team, dominating possession and territory and even closing the gap to 20-18 at one point.

A David Kriel converted try and penalty by Goosen was enough to see the Bulls win and set up a date with Leinster, though the Bulls suffered a blow with Arendse sustaining a cheekbone fracture.

‘No chance’ against Leinster

The Bulls boss says they are looking to take a leaf out of Benetton’s book for their clash against Leinster.

“There’s no one that thought Benetton could beat us, and they nearly did,” White said.

“We probably have no chance against Leinster in everyone’s eyes but that sometimes is a good place to be because Benetton showed that if you really play well you can win a knockout game.”