Saracens 24 SA 23

Keo.co.za brought you live commentary from the midweek clash at Wembley Stadium.

80 mins: Saracens work down the clock as they run the ball through the forwards to cap off a great comeback. Hougaard stands in the pocket and kicks the ball into the stands. The home team celebrates as the disappointment is clear on the South African players’ faces. South Africa lose their third successive European tour match. Saracens win 24-23!

75 mins: Hougaard’s persistence with kicking a drop goal pays off as he finally slots his fifth attempt and Saracens get a one-point lead with five minutes remaining. 24-23 to Saracens!

70 mins: South Africa make a host of changes at a crucial stage of the match. One wonders if this is a wise decision, considering Saracens are within reach.

69 mins: Saracens reduce the deficit to two points as Hougaard converts an easy penalty attempt. 23-21 to South Africa!

62 mins: South Africa try! The Springboks steal a Saracens lineout and gather possession. The ball is then passed out wide for the counter-attack, and Nokwe runs in at the corner for his second after good interplay between the back three. Pienaar misses the conversion but South Africa regain the lead. 23-18 to South Africa!

61 mins: Saracens win a penalty as they out-scrum the South African pack. However, Hougaard continues his average performance with the boot as he misses target. This could prove costly.

60 mins: The next quarter will be a big test for South Africa’s character as momentum is clearly with the Saracens.

59 mins: Hougaard kicks his third ambitious drop goal attempt, but the fans boo as the pivot fails to clear the cross-bar again.

54 mins: Saracens try! After a marginal call from the referee, the home side is awarded a scrum close to South Africa’s try line. Inside centre Brad Barritt gets the ball at first receiver and runs through the dismal South African defence for his side’s second try. Hougaard kicks the extras. The score is level, 18-all!

46 mins: Saracens try! Replacement No 9 Francois Hougaard’s kick from the scrum is charged down by Ernst Joubert. The No 8 then dives on the loose ball for the first points in the second stanza. 18-11 to South Africa!

42 mins: Hougaard takes an early drop goal attempt, but his kick goes wide.

Half-time: Saracens 6 South Africa 18

39 mins: Saracens are awarded a penalty on the stroke of half-time. Hougaard kicks the three points and the referee blows the whistle for the end of the first half. 18-6 to South Africa!

38 mins: South Africa try! After a good up and under from Earl Rose, Ashley Johnson contests well and Saracens fullback Michael Horak fails to claim possession. Jongi Nokwe then gathers the loose ball and touches down under the posts. Pienaar adds the extras to extend the lead to 15. 18-3 to South Africa!

33 mins: Although a solid performance thus far, South Africa are struggling to hold their own in the scrums.

29 mins: South Africa try! South Africa build good momentum into Saracens’ 22. The ball is passed through the hands and De Jongh shows good strength to break through three defenders for the opening try. 11-3 to South Africa!

18 mins: South Africa rule the lineouts as the home side struggle to win their own throw.

17 mins: Saracens are penalised and Pienaar gives South Africa the lead. 6-3 to South Africa!

15 mins: Some impressive and aggressive South African defence swings momentum to the visitors’ favour.

11 mins: Wian du Preez makes an early appearance off the bench as he replaces the injured Van der Linde.

10 mins: Heini Adams and CJ van der Linde are already receiving medical attention, and Juan de Jongh and Adriaan Strauss take big hits, this is proving to be an intensely physical encounter.

3 mins: After the restart, Neil de Kock kicks a poor clearance and his team-mates are adjudged to be offside. Ruan Pienaar slots the penalty and levels the score. Score is level 3-all!

1 min: Derick Hougaard kicks off and South Africa claim the ball cleanly. The visitors decide to run and Jean Deysel sets up the breakdown, but the flank is penalised for holding on. Hougaard gives Saracens the early lead. 3-0 to Saracens!

Saracens – 15 Michael Horak, 14 Noah Cato, 13 Kameli Ratuvou, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Michael Tagicakibau, 10 Derick Hougaard, 9 Neil de Kock, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Justin Melck, 6 Wikus van Heerden (c), 5 Hugh Vyvyan, 4 Mouritz Botha, 3 Richard Skuse, 2 Ethienne Reynecke, 1 Rhys Gill.
Subs: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Carlos Nieto, 18 George Kruis, 19 Andy Saull, 20 Kevin Barrett, 21 Alex Goode, 22 Rodd Penney.

South Africa – 15 Earl Rose, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Jongi Nokwe, 10 Ruan Pienaar, 9 Heini Adams, 8 Ashley Johnson, 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Dewald Potgieter (c), 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Alistair Hargreaves, 3 CJ van der Linde, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Heinke van der Merwe.
Subs: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Wian du Preez, 18 Danie Rossouw, 19 Davon Raubenheimer, 20 Francois Hougaard, 21 Meyer Bosman, 22 Riaan Viljoen.