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Saints put half-ton past travel-wary Bulls

MATCH REPORT: Northampton Saints have reached the Champions Cup semifinals for the first time in 13 years – putting a half-ton past a travel-wary Bulls team at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday.

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Outscoring the Bulls by nine tries to three, the Saints won 59-22 to book a last-four date with the in-form Leinster team at Croke Park in Dublin next month.

* To recap all the drama, CLICK HERE!

Seven tries were scored in the first half alone, four of them for Northampton Saints and three for the visitors.

Fullback James Ramm got the scoring underway for the hosts, but Bulls No.8 Cameron Hanekom levelled the scores early on.

A trio of Northampton Saints scores then saw them take a controlling lead, with flank Courtney Lawes, wing Ollie Sleightholme and scrumhalf Alex Mitchell all dotting down, flyhalf Fin Smith perfect from the tee.

But two tries in quick succession brought the South African club back into the game; first hooker Akker van der Merwe forced himself over before wing Sebastian de Klerk plucked an interception on his five-metre line to race all the way home.

Flyhalf Chris Smith converted two and kicked a penalty to leave the hosts only six points (28-22) ahead at the break.

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But the second period saw Northampton Saints run away with the game. It began just as the first did, with the hosts scoring an early try as second-row Alex Coles finished off another breakaway move.

The hosts went on to score another four tries, with fly-half Smith, centre Fraser Dingwall, Mitchell and No.8 Juarno Augustus going over, Smith also kicking another two conversions.

Bulls fought bravely but ultimately struggled to keep up, failing to score in the second period.

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It was Northampton Saints’ game, and the Premiership leaders will now face Leinster at Croke Park in a thrilling Champions Cup semifinal.

The scorers

For Northampton Saints
Tries: Ramm 2, Lawes, Sleightholme, Mitchell 2, Coles, Dingwall, Augustus
Cons: F Smith 7

For the Bulls
Tries: Hanekom, Van der Merwe, De Klerk
Cons: C Smith 2
Pens: C Smith

Yellow card: Cameron Hanekom (Bulls, 49 – foul play, spear tackle)

Teams

Northampton Saints: 15 James Ramm, 14 George Hendy, 13 Tommy Freeman, 12 Fraser Dingwall, 11 Ollie Sleightholme, 10 Fin Smith, 9 Alex Mitchell, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Sam Graham, 6 Courtney Lawes (captain), 5 Alex Coles, 4 Alex Moon, 3 Trevor Davison, 2 Curtis Langdon, 1 Emmanuel Iyogun.
Replacements: 16 Sam Matavesi, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Temo Mayanavanua, 20 Angus Scott-Young, 21 Lewis Ludlam, 22 Tom James, 23 George Furbank.

Bulls: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Sebastian de Klerk, 13 Henry Immelman, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Stravino Jacobs, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Izak Burger, 8 Cameron Hanekom, 7 Mpilo Gumede, 6 Nizaam Carr (captain), 5 JF van Heerden, 4 Janko Swanepoel, 3 Mornay Smith, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Simphiwe Matanzima.
Replacements: 16 Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Francois Klopper, 19 Merwe Olivier, 20 Reinhardt Ludwig, 21 Keagan Johannes, 22 Jaco van der Walt, 23 Cornal Hendricks.

Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant referees: Ludovic Cayre (France), Luc Ramos (France)
TMO: Thomas Charabas (France)

* Additional reporting by @ChampionsCup

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