Bulls thump Saracens in Super Rugby warm up

The Bulls became the first South African touring team to beat Saracens in London on Saturday when they beat the English Premiership side 26-39 in a Super Rugby trial warm up match.

Previous teams such as the Sharks and even a Springbok side have all lost to Saracens on their visits to London

The warm up is the Bulls second warm up ahead of the upcoming Super Rugby season and last week they beat a Cheetahs side 30-13.

A number of top Bulls players made successful returns in the match including Pierre Spies who crossed for a try in the second half.

On the less positive side there was a possible knee injury Marcel van der Merwe.

Speaking after the match Spies said, “(It’s an) Amazing feeling to be back, It feels good to be back. Everything felt right. Happy for myself and for the team. “

“We are pleased with the result and want to thank Saracens for the match and thank you to the people on London.”

The Pretoria based Super Rugby side fielded several of their Springboks who helped them win a thrilling encounter in London.

Try scorers for Saracens on the day were Chris Wyles, Neil de Kock, Ernst Joubert and Jackson Wray.

The first half started well for Saracens. The home side enjoyed the territory and the possession in the opening exchanges, with the scrum in particular the causing the Blue Bulls frustrations.

Saracens could have made their advantage tell, but after three scrums camped out on the Blue Bulls line the, the north Londoner’s coughed up possession.

With their first reprieve of the afternoon, the Blue Bulls duly delivered the Sarries a harsh lesson in taking their opportunities at the set-piece, when flank forward and Blue Bulls skipper Deon Stegman crossed for the games first try from the back of a strong driving maul.

JL Potgieter missed a tricky conversion, as the infamous Allianz Park wind blew his attempt of course.

The Pretorian giants were now feeling their way into the contest, with their physicality and aggression shining through as the Bulls continued to frustrate their hosts in both attack and defence.

The home faithful were treated to a scorching break for the lively Saracens full-back Ben Ransom as the half wore on, but the Bulls would cross the white line once again when Springbok scrum-half Francois Hougaard wriggled his way over from another string driving maul to score his sides second of the afternoon. Again, Potgieter couldn’t add the extras.

The Blue Bulls outside half did add three points from the kicking tee on the stroke of half-time as the Frans Ludeke’s side went into the warmth of the Allianz Park changing rooms- 0-13 to the good.

If Saracens thought the ten minute break at half-time would halt the Blue Bulls stampede then they were sadly mistaken. Giant lock Jacques du Plessis marched his way through the Saracens defence, and after the Bulls recycled Francois Hougaard fed giant full-back Jurgen Visser who waltzed into score.

Soon after, Hanro Liebenberg crossed for the Bulls’ fourth of the afternoon before the home side hit back when some fine interplay from Charlie Hodgson and Ben ransom released Chris Wyles who outpaced Bjorn Basson to score in the corner. Hodgson converted expertly.

Any hopes of a comeback were quickly extinguished when returning Blue Bulls hero Pierre Spies came off the bench to score on his long awaited return from injury, with young Springbok outside half Handre Pollard converting to make the scores 7-32 to the visitors.

Saracens through refused to bow to the Bulls, with Neil de Kock crossing for an opportunistic try as Hodgson converted. Minutes later, Ernst Joubert powered over to score but Hodgson couldn’t add the extras.

In the closing stages, replacement Blue Bulls Roelf Smit added another try for the Pretorian’s, before Jackson Wray crossed for a highly deserved try in the final moments.

Final Score Saracens 26 Bulls 39

Scorers

Saracens
Tries : Wyles, De Kock, Joubert, Wray
Pen :
Con : Hodgson 3
Drop :

Bulls
Tries : Stegman, Hougaard, Visser, Liebenberg, Spies, Smith
Pen : Potgieter
Con : Potgieter, Pollard 2
Drop :

Teams

Saracens

15. Ben Ransom; 14. Jack Wilson, 13. Tim Streather, 12. Chris Wyles, 11. David Strettle; 10. Charlie Hodgson, 9. Neil de Kock, 8. Ernst Joubert, 7. Kelly Brown (c), , 6. Jackson Wray, 5. Valentin Poparlan, 4. Jim Hamilton, 3. Petrus Du Plessis, 2. Brett Sharman , 1. Richard Barrington

Bulls

15 Jurgens Visser, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 6 Deon Stegmann (captain), 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Jacques du Plessis, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Trevor Nyakane.

Replacements: 16 Jesse Kriel, 17 William Small-Smith, 18 Handre Pollard, 19 Piet van Zyl, 20 Pierre Spies, 21 Roelof Smit, 22 RG Snyman, 23 Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 24 Morne Mellett, 25 Marcel van der Merwe, 26 Jaco Visagie, 27 Duncan Matthews

Thanks to Saracens for the match report.

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