Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Champions Cup result: Depleted Bulls overrun by Saints in try fest

More questions will now be asked about Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White’s decision to take a second string side for the match.

A depleted Bulls team were completely overrun by a ruthless Northampton Saints as the hosts powered to a huge 59-22 win in their Champions Cup quarterfinal at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday night.

Saints ran in nine tries to three from the Bulls, as they powered away in the second half, after the visitors produced a fighting performance in the first half to trail by just six points at the break.

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More questions will now be asked about Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White’s decision to take a second string side over to Northampton, due to the extremely difficult travel schedule which forced him to leave all of his current Springbok stars at home.


In the match the first half was an end-to-end affair as both teams attacked with abandon which led to seven tries being scored between both teams, including three tries in a five minute spell to get things going.

First a good backline move end with Saints fullback James Ramm going over, before Bulls eighthman Cameron Hanekom bulldozed his way over to level the scores, and then Saints lock Alex Coles made a superb break before sending in flank Courtney Lawes to give the hosts a 14-7 lead after 15 minutes.

Two minutes later Bulls flyhalf Chris Smith slotted a penalty, but Saints responded with two more tries to take a big early lead after 25 minutes.

First poor defence from the Bulls after a Saints lineout in their 22m allowed wing Ollie Sleightholme to bounce off a number of tackle attempts before getting over to score, before another great attack into the Bulls 22m ended with scrumhalf Alex Mitchell throwing the dummy and sniping over.

Saints flyhalf Fin Smith firmly had his kicking boots on with his fourth straight conversion, which put them up 28-10.

The Bulls started their comeback in the 31st minute after attacking from a lineout, with the ball eventually going down the blindside where hooker Akker van der Merwe produced a rampaging run to score in the corner, with Chris Smith missing the extras.

Four minutes later it looked like Saints would hit straight back, with them having an overlap in the Bulls 22m, only for wing Sebastian de Klerk to snaffle a brilliant intercept and sprint away to score, with Smith’s conversion making it 28-22 at halftime.

Scoring spree

The second half picked up right where the first left off with the scoring spree continuing as straight from the kick-off Saints outside centre Tommy Freeman made the break before sending in Coles to run in and score their fifth converted try.

In the 47th minute Saints were in again, attacking from a tap and go in the Bulls 22m, with the ball looping around nicely for Ramm to run in his second score untouched, with Fin Smith finally missing a conversion as his shot came back off the uprights to leave the score 40-22.

The Bulls thought they had struck straight back to get back into the match as De Klerk went over for his second two minutes later, but the try was chalked off after the TMO picked up a tip tackle from Hanekom in the build-up which led to a yellow card.

This allowed Saints to go further ahead in the 50th minute as they setup a lineout in the Bulls 22m, with a poor throw over the top luckily bouncing into their hands, before inside centre Fraser Dingwall found his way through for the converted score and a big 47-22 lead.

A rare scoreless spell then followed, with a 17-minute gap between the hosts next try, as they attacked from a lineout in the 68th minute, with Mitchell sniping over to score his second and Fin Smith on target with the conversion again.

In the 72nd minute former Stormers star Juarno Augustus smashed his way over for Saints ninth try of the game to put them 59-22 up, which proved to be the final points of the match.


Northampton Saints: Tries – James Ramm (2), Courtney Lawes, Ollie Sleightholme, Alex Mitchell (2), Alex Coles, Fraser Dingwall, Juarno Augustus; Conversions – Fin Smith (7)

Bulls: Tries – Cameron Hanekom, Akker van der Merwe, Sebastian de Klerk; Conversions – Chris Smith (2); Penalty – Smith

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