Saracens catch Boks napping in the second half

2009-11-18 00:00

THE Springboks went to sleep in the second half and lost their third successive tour match when they beaten 24-23 by a South African-flavoured Saracens team at Wembley last night.

The Springboks had total control in the first half, leading 18-6 at the break, but all their old problems returned in the second period as their scrum disintegrated, they coughed up possession in the tackle and they again failed at the breakdown where they were hammered by the Saracens spirited forwards and Welshman James Jones.

South Africans in the Saracens team played a major role in the win with former Sharks centre Brad Barritt and Lions flank Ernst Joubert scoring second-half tries and ex-Bok flyhalf Derick Hougaard, who missed five drops during the game, finally kicked one with six minutes remaining to seal the one-point win.

Derick Hougaard and Ruan Pienaar swapped penalties in the opening two minutes (3-3) and the Boks then dominated the rest of the half, camping in Saracens’ half and winning a steady stream of possession. After Pienaar had kicked a second penalty, and lanky lock Andries Bekker was frustratingly denied by the touchline after a sweeping 80 metre movement, centre Juan de Jongh scored after 30 minutes after crashing through a couple of tackles for the opening try.

Minutes later Jongi Nokwe was rewarded for a busy first half when Saracens’ fullback Michael Horak failed to control an up-and-under and the Bok wing ran through easily to score. Pienaar converted but Hougaard, on a rare Saracens’ visit into Springbok territory, kicked a penalty on halftime (18-6).

The Boks started the second half badly and they simply could not recover. First, replacement scrumhalf Francois Hougaard had his kick charged down by former Lions flank Joubert who scored in the corner (18-11) and then the London-based team drew level after 13 minutes when Barritt, running off an excellent scrum, crashed through two tackles to score for an easy Hougaard conversion.

The Boks responded with a try of their own when they stole a Saracens lineout and a clever Earl Rose pass created the opening for Nokwe to score his second try (23-18). Hougaard responded with a penalty (23-21) with 13 minutes remaining.

With the Bok scrum creaking badly, and a number of questionable decisions going against the South Africans, the Boks could not gain any second-half momentum and it was left to Hougaard to settle matters with a 40 metre drop with six minutes remaining.

Saracens were looking at the game as a marketing exercise and it succeeded beyond their wildest dreams as 46 000 spectators arrived and watched as the world champions were downed by a limited English club team.

Despite the occasional spark, the Boks were again ruthlessly exposed.



Tries by Juan de Jongh and Jongi Nokwe (2). Penalties (2) and conversion by Ruan Pienaar.



Tries by Ernst Joubert and Brad Barritt.

Penalties (3), drop and conversion by Derick Hougaard.

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