- Bulls mentor Jake White believes his charges passed a major character test in their nervy win over Griquas on Saturday.
- The former Bok coach praised his opponents' ability to stop his side's momentum and how they kept on fighting.
- But White is also on a journey of discovery on what his players can bring to the table and is chuffed that, under pressure, they could win "ugly".
It was by no means vintage, particularly after the standards they set two weeks ago at Super Fan Saturday, but Jake White was still chuffed that his Bulls passed a major "test of character" in their Super Rugby Unlocked opener against Griquas on Saturday.
The 30-23 scoreline at Loftus neatly exemplified the home side's showing - one where they were sternly tested but also had superior ammunition for a positive result.
"Yeah, it was a good character test for us," said the Bulls' director of rugby.
"People expected the game to be a lot easier than it was and you've got to give credit to Griquas for the way they stopped our momentum, the way they chased and showed fighting spirit and the way they played."
White's troops were required to launch a substantial comeback after falling 0-10 behind in the first half and only took the lead for the first time in the 63rd minute.
"If I could change things, I probably would've liked to have this result against the Sharks two weeks ago (where they won 49-28) and bag five log points tonight against Griquas," he said candidly.
"But sometimes, when you're under pressure, you see different things. It's also a period for me where I'm still learning about my players. Yes, I know what they can do but under pressure I need to see how they react.
"With four minutes to go before half-time and 3-10 down, we suddenly made it 10-10. Scoring before half-time and after it or at the death, those are championship moments. I'm still determining how the players fit in, what their attitudes are like and how they add to combinations.
"It's our second game together but I'm really happy how the players came back. They showed they can win games when it's not easy going. You've got to win ugly too."
Another heartening development for White would've been that his charges, for all their waywardness, never looked panicky in struggling to get ahead and eventually build a sufficient buffer.
"At half-time I told the guys to harness their experience," he said.
"We also agreed that we simply needed to be a bit more direct. We played a bit end-to-end at times. In fact, at some stages it even felt like we were playing touchies. We saw with the bursts by Marco van Staden, Elrigh Louw and Jason Jenkins that it was the right way to go by being direct."