Vodacom Blue Bulls beat Saracens 39-26 in good showing in London
Fans at Allianz Park were treated to a ten try thriller, as South African giants Blue Bulls beat Saracens 26-39 to lift the Sanlam Challenge Shield.
The Pretorian side, packed with Springbok talent ran out winners in a thrilling game in north 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 Blue Bulls 39
Pierre Spies: "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."
More to follow.....