Jake: We know Benetton can beat us

The Bulls are favourites to stop Benetton and advance to the final four of the Vodacom URC, yet Jake White says they cannot take anything for granted when the teams clash on Saturday.

Having worked over the Sharks last week to clinch their first SA Shield, the Bulls must now prove they can knock out playoff-calibre opponents with a late flurry when they square up against Benetton at Loftus Versfeld.

White's charges scored nine tries to beat the Italian outfit in round 17 of the competition, but Benetton scored five and finished the game strongly, dotting down twice in the final 15 minutes.

The Herd were humbled 35-8 when these two sides met in the 2021 Rainbow Cup final in Treviso, and speaking to the media on Friday, White shared how these past experiences have prepared the side for this week's must-win rematch.

"As a coach, they [the players] won't forget that [Rainbow Cup defeat], because people thought we should win that," he told reporters during a team announcement conference.

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"And the other thing, we were 50 points ahead and we won 50-something 35 the last time we played them. For that 20 minutes they were very good.

"When you look at those games, it's funny how those lessons probably help us with our prep. I don't have to say, 'be careful, they can play' because they've seen it, or 'be careful, they can beat us' because they've done it.

"All I have to do is reaffirm that in my team talks all week and just say, 'look guys, just remember', and the nice thing is most of them were part of that.

"They beat us convincingly in the Rainbow Cup, they played really well in that 20-minute block [three weeks ago] when we had them dead and buried. So we know we still have to get the job done."

What will give Benetton hope, outside of having scored five tries against the Bulls in their most recent visit, is that the Bulls conceded 54 tries in 18 league matches.

White's men, though, boast the URC's best attack, having scored a league-leading 85 tries and 639 points, and the director of rugby believes the evolution of the Bulls' playing style has primed them for the challenge.

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"I'm happy to sit here and answer questions because I remember when I started here [people said] 'Bulls are boring' or 'Jake-ball', all those things," he said.

"And now all of a sudden, 85 tries, broke the record for most points scored in a season, so we've evolved. We haven't gone away from the fact that we can score maul tries or that our scrum is incredibly strong. The Sharks demolished Gloucester and we demolished the Sharks' Springbok front row last week.

"I get asked this all the time, 'where's your scrum, are you not worried about your scrum?' and now we get to the playoffs: scrums strong, scoring lots of points, good record at home, opportunity to play twice at Loftus in these two big games, rotation and depth in our squad.

"As a coach I can't be sitting here other than very, very happy and very content where we are as a group.

"If I look at what we did well against them [Benetton] … there's no reason why we don't back that, that we can score points. It's making sure we're tighter on defence; we let it slip and they went and scored five tries and went for it and asked questions of our defence."

Photo: Gordon Arons/Gallo Images

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