The Vodacom Bulls are under no false illusions that a tough encounter awaits them when they face the DHL Stormers in their Vodacom United Rugby Championship Grand Final in Cape Town on Saturday.
The two sides have made history as the first finalists of the cross-hemisphere premier competition, and in their first season, ensured an all-South African season finale – eliminating all of their Irish, Welsh, Scottish and Italian opposition in the process.
If past matches would be anything to go by, the DHL Stormers will easily claim the “favourites” tag, not only because they have secured a home final but also based on the fact that they have defeated the Vodacom Bulls twice already in the round robin stages of the competition.
However, Vodacom Bulls’ electrifying winger, Madosh Tambwe, believes that the final will be a different ball game, but expects an ever-competitive opponent when they take to the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday night.
“We are at a stage and time where there isn’t much more that we can do [about past results]. There is one more game left in the Vodacom URC, so we will have to try to replicate the performance we had against Leinster [in the semifinal] last weekend,” said Tambwe.
“The Stormers remain the only South African team we haven’t had a win against. We are obviously going into the game with the mindset of wanting to win. Like Coach Jake (White) says, we enter a competition to win. It doesn’t matter how we start or whatever happens, we just need to worry about the fact that at the time the ref blows the whistle at the end of the 80 minutes that we are a couple of points ahead of them.
“Credit to them, their back three has played well. (Leolin) Zas is the top try-scorer, (Seabelo) Senatla right behind him Boogie (Warrick Gelant) is a great player. It now comes down to Saturday – the planning, the bounce of the ball – so, we will approach it like we have been approaching every other game.”
The 25-year-old winger spoke glowingly about the Vodacom Bulls’ director of rugby, Jake White, who has steered the ship of the side fantastically through the season.
Despite a disappointing start to their campaign which even saw the team sitting second from the bottom of the log as early as January this year, White’s charges grew from strength to strength on their way to the final of the competition.
“Working with Coach Jake has been tremendous. He has honestly brought out the best out of me. He challenges me in various ways, not only as a rugby player but also a team guy off the field. So, working with him has been a great aspect of my career to date. Hopefully we can finish that relationship on a high on Saturday,” said a proud Tambwe.
“I want to give back to him. He’s a tremendous guy. He uplifted my career from the time I got here. The one thing I can do in terms of repaying him is to play my socks off, and hopefully play a role in securing that trophy and bringing it back to Loftus.
“When we started this competition, I don’t think anybody gave us a chance, especially when we lost our first game against Leinster and then went on to lose a few more games after that.
“As time went on, the bond and the relationships got stronger within the squad and the belief started growing. We found ourselves in a position where every game was like a playoff where we needed to win in order for us to secure a European spot and a playoff spot.
“So, ever since about the last three games before the playoffs we had already embraced the challenge of ‘every game basically a playoff’. I think all the guys took it well, and luckily, we have great coaches in our camp. We have a World Cup-winning coach, we have a defence coach that has been to three Vodacom Super Rugby finals. We have great personnel whom we are fortunate to work with.”
”Our main motivation now is to lift the trophy, the same way we did when we went to Leinster – we never mentioned that we owed them. We just went there to say it’s just another team that is in our way to the final
“This Saturday the objective is to win, and we have 23 guys who are aware of that. We just have to see the reward that awaits us. Hopefully, that is enough motivation for the game on Saturday.”
The Vodacom URC Grand Final between the Vodacom Bulls and DHL Stormers will kick off at 19h30 on Saturday.
The Vodacom Bulls will announce their team for the match on Friday.
[Submitted by Kevin Rademeyer]