United Rugby Championship: John Dobson proud of character shown by Stormers against Bulls
Stormers head coach John Dobson praised his team’s defensive effort during the last 10 minutes of Saturday’s United Rugby Championship clash with the Bulls in Pretoria.
Dobson said he was “very proud of the character” shown by his charges as they kept the home side at bay to seal a memorable 23-19 victory.
The men from the Cape delivered a superb overall performance and fought back from a 12-3 deficit midway through the opening half to take a deserved 20-12 lead by the hour-mark.
However, the Bulls struck back with a converted Sbu Nkosi try which narrowed the gap to a point, before Manie Libbok landed a drop goal in the 72nd minute to put more daylight between his team and the home side.
That set up a tense finish, with the Bulls camped inside the Stormers‘ 22 for most of the encounter’s closing stages, but the visitors clinched the win when second-row Ruben van Heerden won a crucial turnover after the final hooter, before booting the ball into touch.
“Brannas (captain Deon Fourie) and I said the same thing very quickly: just that we were very proud of them – very proud of the character. We knew the level of motivation for this game, and knew that the first 20 to 30 minutes would be tough,” said Dobson.
“They dominated the territory for most of that half, and we conceded too many penalties as well. They won that contestable battle, and I thought Ruan Nortje was outstanding.
“Deon just couldn’t get the ball down (as he was held up over the line by Bulls flank Marco van Staden), and that could have taken us away. But the way we stayed in that fight, got into a lead at half-time and then started that second half was magic. And then the character at the end… That is just what this team is about, what happened in those last 10 minutes – I’m so proud of them.”
Fourie, who won the official man-of-the-match award, led from the front, winning some crucial turnovers and penalties at the breakdown, but he also praised his team-mates for the way they fought back after their slow start in the first half.
“It was just the silly mistakes, and we didn’t get into their half once,” the flanker said. “We just spoke about clamping down on the silly mistakes, keep it to the basics, and let’s just play and get into their half.
Expected Bulls’ onslaught
“As soon as we got into their half and 22, we walked away with points, which turned things around. But we talked about it all week – they would be up after the first 20 minutes, because it’s in front of their home crowd, and they’ve got a lot to play for.
“We just needed to get into the fight, and like last year and this year, we always play for 80 minutes, so credit to the team.”
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