Bulls coach Mitchell takes positives from Currie Cup campaign
Blue Bulls head coach John Mitchell said the two early tries they conceded in their 37-27 Currie Cup semi-final loss to the Sharks at King's Park in Durban came back to haunt them.
The Sharks took a 14-0 lead through tries from Lukhanyo Am and Kobus van Wyk in the first eight minutes.
While the Bulls were able to cut that lead to one point through a Pierre Schoeman converted try and two Marnitz Boshoff penalties‚ they had too much to do and the game ran away from them at the end of the first half as tries from Louis Schreuder and Ruan Botha gave the Sharks a 28-13 half-time lead.
“We were probably a bit inaccurate with our exit football and that was the case with the charged down try just before the end of the first half was also a body blow. However‚ I was proud of how the players fought themselves back into the match because I felt at some stage in the second half the game could have gone any way. I guess we ran out of time in the end and in the first half‚ we were guilty of giving away too much ball too early‚” Mitchell said
“If we hadn't given away those two softies‚ we would have taken advantage of the scoreline in the second half.
"Who would have known but the start is very important in finals football but also you have to win ugly‚ so you have to admire how the guys fought.
"I guess people will judge what they see as success but for us‚ it will be up to us to make our own judgement on what is a successful season as we've been through an enormous amount of change.”
With the Bulls being losing finalists last year‚ this campaign could have been easily be termed as a failure‚ however‚ they did well to even get to the semi-final point.
They had an indifferent start to the tournament‚ a start that saw Nollis Marais being stood down for the rest of the season.
The Currie Cup had never been on Mitchell's horizon but the Bulls' improvement as the tournament progressed warranted them as dark horses if they could put performances together.
Unfortunately for them‚ that didn't happen at King's Park as their second half burst wasn't enough to get them over the line.
Mitchell though was happy with the fact he's a got a lot to work with when Super Rugby comes around next year.
“We've got the international and the Japan-based players to come back along with the injured ones that didn't even feature in this competition.
"We've unearthed 11 under 21 players and we've built a culture based on hard work rather than entitlement. If there's one thing these players have learnt‚ it's the value of hard work‚” Mitchell said.
“We're on the right path and we can determine what's success in our season and you can only see that by the demeanour of the players. They're enjoying playing for each other.”