Match Centre: Champions Cup: Northampton Saints 59-22 Bulls

Northampton Saints punished the Bulls in another ruthless showing by the Premiership leaders
©Ketan Shah

Northampton Saints 59-22 Bulls, cinch Stadium @ Franklin's Gardens

Northampton Saints ran a nine try riot as they defeated Bulls 59-22 at cinch Stadium @ Franklin's Gardens to reach the semi-finals of the Investec Champions Cup.

They will now face Leinster in the last four.

Northampton opened their account in the 10th minute as Fin Smith and Fraser Dingwall freed up James Ramm over the line in the 10th minute and Smith also kicked the conversion to make it 7-0. Bulls responded as Cameron Hanekom powered his way over and Chris Smith's conversion helped them level the scores.

The 15th minute saw Courtney Lawes - playing his final season for the club - dive over from close range and Smith kicked the extras to make it 14-7 before a penalty from Chris Smith helped the visitors narrow the gap to four points.

Ollie Sleightholme then muscled his way over the line and Alex Mitchell also followed suit. Smith made no mistake with the conversions as the Saints extended their lead to 28-10.

However, Bulls did not relent under pressure and made a strong finish to the opening half with tries from Akker van der Merwe and Sebastian de Klerk narrowing down their deficit to just six points.

The Saints made a strong start to the second period as Tommy Freeman sent an inside pass for Alex Coles to touchdown and Ramm then completed his second try in the 47th minute as the Saints extended their lead to 40-22. The Bulls were down to 14 players temporarily in the 49th minute as Cameron Hanekom was sin-binned for a tip tackle.

Northampton made full use of the numerical advantage as Smith sent an underarm pass for Fraser Dingwall to dot down and Smith kicked the conversion to make it 47-22. With 13 minutes left in the game, Alex Mitchell scored from a close-range ruck and Juarno Augustus also went over as Northampton completed a 59-22 victory.

Team line-ups:

Northampton: Ramm; Hendy, Freeman, Dingwall, Sleightholme; Smith, Mitchell; Iyogun, Langdon, Davison, Moon, Coles, Lawes (capt), Graham, Augustus.

Replacements: Matavesi, Waller, Hill, Mayanavanua, Scott-Young, Ludlam, James, Furbank.

Bulls: Williams; De Klerk, Immelman, Vorster, Jacobs; Smith, Burger; Matanzima, Van der Merwe, Smith, Swanepoel, Van Heerden, Carr, Gumede, Hanekom.

Replacements: Wessels, Smith, Klopper, Olivier, Ludwig, Johannes, Van der Walt, Hendricks.


European Rugby Champions Cup Points Table