Super Rugby

Jake White questions Stormers' 'Bomb Squad' tactics

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Jake White (Gallo Images).
Jake White (Gallo Images).
  • Bulls mentor Jake White has questioned the manner in which the Stormers utilised their substitutions at Loftus over the weekend.
  • The Capetonians fielded six forwards on their bench, similar to the Springboks' 'Bomb Squad' at the World Cup.
  • White believes the Stormers took too long to bring on their substitutions.

Bulls director of rugby Jake White was left puzzled by the manner in which the Stormers used their substitutes during Saturday's Super Rugby Unlocked encounter.

The Stormers took a leaf out of the Springboks' book when they entered the contest with six forwards on the bench.

Rassie Erasmus' Boks had employed the tactic with success during last year's victorious Rugby World Cup campaign, with the impact players becoming known as the 'Bomb Squad'.

Saturday's game at Loftus Versfeld ended prematurely after 63 minutes due to a thunderstorm as the Bulls were declared 39-6 victors.

However, White questioned why his counterpart John Dobson did not utilise his substitutions earlier in the game.

"I was surprised because I thought with all those players on the bench they would have probably got them on a bit earlier. I'm not sure what the thinking was," White told reporters during a virtual press conference.

"In fact, I was holding back with my substitutions because I thought as soon as they do theirs I'll put mine on. So, it was a strange thing in terms of having six forwards on the bench and not using them."

By the time the players left the field, the Stormers had brought on four forward reserves - Marcel Theunissen came on for Jaco Coetzee in the 46th minute, Ben-Jason Dixon for Ernst van Rhyn in the 56th, Neethling Fouche for Frans Malherbe in the 59th, and Scarra Ntubeni for Bongo Mbonambi in the 62nd. Leon Lyons and Chris van Zyl were the forward reserves not utilised.

White also commented on the Stormers' game plan, hinting that they relied too heavily on their powerful scrum in previous games.

On Saturday, though, the Stormers weren't afforded that opportunity as their first scrum put-in came just when the teams were hauled off.

"They used their forward pack to get themselves out of trouble against the Pumas ... so they would scrum and [get] a scrum penalty and get out of their half," White noted.

"So, the plan was just to nullify that option and then get them to play out of their half. Because they probably got away with it in the last couple of weeks by having double shoves or by using their scrum and their set piece to get out of their half, they had to rethink and they had to adapt the way they were playing."

He made it clear he felt his players would be able to adapt if their plans were not working.

"The thing I enjoy the most about this Bulls team is their ability to adapt. The ability for them to understand that if Plan A doesn't work then you've got to be good enough to find another plan and I think the way we changed the lineout today with the maul ... and playing off the top ... we got some really good reward. So, I'm really happy with the way the coaching staff and the players are putting this team together."

White continued by saying how impressed he was with his team's efforts.

"The first 40 minutes was probably the best we've played in a long time, considering the opposition we played against.

"The thing that I enjoyed the most is the continuity and the interplay between backs and forwards.

"It wasn't a case of just playing with our forwards, although I must say I think our forwards were outstanding... the way they scrummed and the way they mauled... it definitely set up a platform for the backs to play... but I definitely enjoyed the interplay between the backs and forwards.

"Some of the touches and some of the offloading was really pleasing."

READ | Stormers players, coach Dobson leave Loftus 'embarrassed'

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