I will be the first to eat my words here, after predicting a Leinster win in last nights semi-final, however I couldn't be happier to see that at least one South African side has made it into the final of the United Rugby Championship in their first season, Even more pleasing is the sheer tenacity and grit that the men from Pretoria displayed in achieving this.
Leinster were undoubtedly favorites heading into the fixture. They boasted numerous Irish internationals in their starting XV and were backed up by some more international firepower on the bench. The Bulls on the other hand, don't have a single current Springbok in their ranks, with only Morne 'nerves of steel' Steyn having represented the Boks in 2021 prior to retiring. The Bulls have shown they don't care much for what the team sheets say however as they have now toppled both the Sharks and Leinster to prove that a star team always outdoes a team of stars.
Right from the kick off, you could see how hungry the Bulls were. Their sheer physicality lured Leinster away from their strong running game and forced them into an arm wrestle, exactly where the Bulls wanted them. Johan Grobbelaar was phenomenal for the Bulls and rightly earned himself the man of the match accolade, but all over the park where men working hard and putting in the big hits. It was only upon the insertion of flyhalf Johnny Sexton that Leinster started to beat the rush defense and find space out wide, alas it was too late though as the Bulls had a strangle hold on the game by that point.
Young Bulls fullback Canan Moodie spilt one ball over the line which caused a try to be disallowed, but the youngster should be extremely proud of his performance last night. He was fearless under the highball and didn't shy away from contact at all. He was shifted to the wing when David Kriel failed an HIA and along with Kurt-Lee Arendse, continued to cause havoc for Leinster.
Marcell Coetzee yet again laid down an emphatic marker for a Springbok call up, with his leadership, strength in contact and over the ball, as well as his athleticism charging up the Bulls for the full 80 minutes. If he is overlooked for a spot in the Bok squad this year, Jacques Nienaber needs to get a cloth to clean up those glasses of his. There is no player better suited to being a member of the 'Bomb Squad' than Coetzee.
The Bulls have one more game to go now, but they will have to wait until around 17:00 today to know whether they travel back home and down to Cape Town to face the Stormers, or whether they will be waiting in Ireland for Ulster to return. The Bulls really do have an incredible shot at history here as winning the URC would mean every single trophy on offer, from junior to senior level, would be in their cabinet. One thing is for certain, this writer won't be making the same mistake next weekend, I will definitely be backing the Bulls.