LONDON, November 18- Saracens South African director of rugby Brendan Venter admitted the club's ambitious decision to play South Africa at Wembley paid handsome dividends after seeing his side topple the world champions 24-23 on Tuesday.The Springboks blew an 18-6 half-time lead at England’s home of football as they suffered a third successive defeat on their European tour.
Derick Hougaard was the hero for Sarries, the former South Africa fly-half landing a 75th-minute drop-goal to take his personal haul to 14 points.
On an amazing night for Saracens, one of their fans, Stuart Timmer, scooped a cheque for 250,000 pounds after landing a 35-yard kick against the crossbar during the half-time entertainment – he then invited all the Saracens cheerleaders out on a date.
Venter said: "This was a brilliant evening for the club.
"We have shown a lot of ambition, and with the guy hitting the crossbar, us winning in the end and with 46,000 people watching – it doesn’t get much better than this."
South Africa, who played a second-string side here, have lost to Leicester, France and now Saracens on tour.
They will look to turn around their fortunes against Italy on Saturday and then Six Nations Grand Slam champions Ireland the following weekend.
Dick Muir, South Africa’s assistant coach, said: "We have brought a whole lot of youngsters over here. Some have shown they are world-class players and others have not.
"There were a couple of decisions that went against us in the second half. But a lot of the stuff we did in the first half, we did not do in the second."
Muir’s mood was not improved by the news prop CJ van der Linde (hamstring) and lock Andries Bekker (ribs) sustained injuries during the match, although he did see a strong performance by winger Jongi Nokwe, who scored two of his side’s three tries.
A crowd of 46,281 saw Hougaard and Ruan Pienaar trade penalties in the opening three minutes.
Pienaar then slotted over his second of the night, in the 16th minute, as the tourists started to turn the screw.
In that one-way traffic kept on coming, captain Dewald Potgieter lost control of the ball 10 yards out with the line gaping and Bekker was denied by a last-gasp tackle by Saracens winger Noah Cato.
Eventually a try came when Juan de Jongh leaving Cato and Kameli Ratuvou in his wake as he bustled his way over on the left in the 29th minute.
Pienaar missed the conversion, and then a penalty, but added the extras following the 38th-minute try by Nokwe, which was controversially awarded given the winger had run on to a ball that looked to have run free after a knock-on by team-mate Ashley Johnson.
Perhaps spurred on by the successful Crossbar Challenge attempt by their fan at half-time, Saracens came out firing for the second half.
Ernst Joubert’s 44th-minute try came when he charged down a South Africa clearance before gathering the rebound to score.
The South Africans then conceded a second 10 minutes later when England Saxons centre Brad Barritt wriggled over from close range. Hougaard’s conversion made it 18-18.
In the 63rd minute, a well-worked move, which involved Wynand Olivier, Earl Rose and De Jongh, was finished off by Nokwe in the corner.
But Pienaar’s conversion was missed and it would prove crucial. Hougaard booted a 70th minute penalty before landing the crucial drop with five minutes left.
"South Africa were very good," said Venter. "They didn’t play badly, so that is another good sign for us."