Luke Watson blamed a high error count for Vodacom Western Province’s defeat at Loftus on Saturday.
“We made far too many mistakes in the first half and the Bulls capitalised on them,” said the captain afterwards. “We were good on attack, but our defence let us down.”
However, the flank remained optimistic about the future, despite WP’s failure to reach a Currie Cup final for the fifth consecutive season.
“We have a really young and inexperienced team,” he said. “But we still had a good season, and a lot of credit must go to the coaches. They get the blame when things go wrong, but rarely get credit when things go right.”
WP coach Kobus van der Merwe agreed with Watson’s sentiments.
“We made three mistakes that cost us 17 points,” he said. “Luke lost possesion [resulting in Derick Kuun's try], Justin Melck lost the ball from a kick off [from which Hilton Lobberts scored] and Joe Pietersen also made a crucial mistake. But all credit to the Bulls – they were worthy winners.”
Meanwhile, Bulls captain Gary Botha said a half-time chat had helped the team focus in the second half.
“It was really hot in the first half [due to the 2.30pm kick-off],” he said. “At half-time Heyneke [Meyer] and Pote [Human] told us to look after the ball better and improve at the breakdown.”
Human blamed a “fear of failure” for the Bulls inconsistent first half performance.
“In a playoff match you are sometimes scared to try things,” he said. “I just told the guys to throw the ball wide if it was on, and keep it tight if that’s what the situation required. We have treated every one of our last six games as a final, and are really pleased to have now reached the final.”
However, Heyneke Meyer warned the Bulls to maintain their focus and not get carried away by the semi-final win.
“It’s really important that we keep our feet on the ground,” he said. “We haven’t won anything yet. Today was a really tough game, and next weekend’s game will be the same.”