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Bulls power past spiteful Sarries

MATCH REPORT: The Bulls got their European campaign off to a fine start, powering past three-time champions Saracens 27-16 at Loftus Versfeld, in Pretoria, on Saturday.

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It was a spiteful performance from a Sarries team that played 50 minutes of this Champions Cup Round One outing with 14 men – No.8 Billy Vunipola red-carded for a vicious shoulder charge at a ruck, while fullback Alex Goode (late tackle) and lock Maro Itoje (slapping the ball down) issued with yellow cards.

Goode was lucky he was not issued with a second yellow card for cynical play.

However, credit should go to the Bulls for their intent and endeavour – playing an exciting brand that saw them repeatedly counter from deep inside their half.

They stood up to whatever Saracens threw at them and their forwards were up to a pack that fielded several England World Cup stars.

* To recap all the drama, CLICK HERE!

The Bulls got off to a flyer – interplay between the forwards and backs leading up to David Kriel scoring the opening try in the second minute.

Johan Goosen added the conversion and then traded penalties with Owen Farrell – 10-3.

The Bulls were denied a second try as the TMO found a forward pass in the build-up, but Goosen stretched the lead to 13-3 just past the quarter mark.

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Farrell narrowed the gap to 6-13, before Goosen pushed an attempt side.

In the 26th minute, Alex Goode was yellow-carded for a late tackle on Kurt-Lee Arendse.

Just past the half-hour mark, the Bulls were denied another try by the TMO, this time for a foot in touch.

Just short of half-time Maro Itoje was yellow-carded for cynically slapping the ball down, just minutes after Elliot Daly escaped a card for the same offence.

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The Bulls went for a tap-and-go, with Janko Swanepoel finishing off a rush of forward drives. Goosen’s conversion made it 20-6 at the break.

Swanepoel thought he had a second try, but the TMO got involved again four minutes into the second half.

However, minutes later Canan Moodie got the try – a counter started by Willie le Roux inside his own 22 and involved Kurt-lee-Arendse putting his Springbok teammate away.

Soon afterwards it went from bad to worse for the visitors – No.8 Billy Vunipola red-carded for a shoulder to the head of Cameron Hanekom.

Saracens finally got some reward for their endeavour – Owen Farrell putting Elliot Daly over for the visitors’ first try just past the hour mark.

With 10 minutes remaining Janko Swanepoel was yellow-carded for playing an opponent in the air at a line-out.

It allowed Saracens an opportunity to get back into the contest – Theo McFarland scoring a try after a series of forward rushes at the Bulls line.

Farrell missed both conversions – leaving his team trailing by 11 points, 16-27.

The Bulls hung tough and took away a deserved win.

Man of the match: Forwards Cameron Hanekom, Elrigh Louw, Marco van Staden, Reinhardt Ludwig, Janko Swanepoel, Wilco Louw, Akker van der Merwe and Gerhard Steenekamp – as a collective and individuals – deserve the plaudits they are getting. The back three of Willie le Roux, Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie are valuable assets to the Bulls on attack and defence. Our award goes to Bulls centre Stedman Gans – who is maturing in the No.13 jersey and making sure the national selectors take note.

The scorers

For the Bulls
Tries: Kriel, Swanepoel, Moodie
Cons: Goosen 3
Pens: Goosen 2

For Saracens
Tries: Daly, McFarland
Pens: Farrell 2

Red card: Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 52 – foul play, charging with should into the head of an opponent at ruck)
Yellow cards: Alex Goode (Saracens, 26 – foul play, late tackle), Maro Itoje (Saracens, 39 – cynical foul, slapping the ball down), Janko Swanepoel (Bulls, 70 – repeated offences, playing an opponent in the air at the line-out)

Teams

Bulls: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 David Kriel, 11 Canan Moodie, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Cameron Hanekom, 7 Elrigh Louw, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Reinhardt Ludwig, 4 Janko Swanepoel, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp.
Replacements: 16 Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Mornay Smith, 19 Deon Slabbert, 20 Marcell Coetzee, 21 Zak Burger, 22 Jaco van der Walt, 23 Sergeal Petersen.

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Andy Christie, 6 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 5 Hugh Tizard, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Alec Clarey, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Theo Dan, 17 Tom West, 18 Christian Judge, 19 Theo McFarland, 20 Toby Knight, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Olly Hartley, 23 Lucio Cinti.

Referee: Andrea Piardi (Italy)
Assistant referees: Benoit Rousselet (France), Filippo Russo (Italy)
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France)

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