Saracens v Toulouse
18 Oct 2013 - 7:45 PM
Saracens first home match of their 2013-14 Heineken Cup campaign ended in defeat as a converted Louis Picamoles try snatched a narrow 17-16 for the French side.
The first half was undoubtedly Saracens. It didn’t take long to exert their dominance, with their powerful scrum giving Saracens superiority and field advantage. A good break down the right saw Chris Ashton offload to Chris Wyles who scampered over and ran to touch down under the posts. Owen Farrell added the extras.
With 15 minutes gone Toulouse were awarded a penalty just inside the Saracens half which Luke McAlister could only drive off the right upright, before missing a second to the left moments later.
Though McAlister was rescued by his team mate Christopher Tolofua after 20 minutes as a drive to the line saw the big Frenchman crash over and the TMO confirmed he’d grounded it. McAlister added the conversion.
The equalising try added a level of confidence to Toulouse’s attack with a number of lightning breaks being stopped by a staunch Sarries back line.
It wasn’t just McAlister whose penalty kicking was off the mark with Farrell missing his chance to putt Saracens back into the lead after Nigel Owens brought the play back for an earlier infringement.
However, there was no mistake moments later as Farrell stroked the ball confidently home to restore Sarries lead and it could have been even better when they stole a Toulouse line-out and with men over failed to get the ball out to Strettle.
Sarries continued to dominate and despite a failed drop goal attempt by Farrell, Owens brought it back for a straightforward kick in front of the posts which the England number 10 duly converted for a 13-7 lead, a lead they took into the half-time interval.
Despite the half-time interval, Saracens didn’t let it dampen their attacking intent, with Chris Ashton’s pace almost creating a try within three minutes of the re-start.
Sarries’ scrum dominance once again paid off with Owens penalising the French for collapsing the scrum. Despite one early miss, Farrell returned to his metronomic best with another successful kick to extend the lead to 16-7.
As multiple former champions, Toulouse know what it means not to give up and their attacking flair took them into the Saracens half on three separate occasions but the Saracens defence was more than up to the challenge and in fact forcing Toulouse into mistakes, diffusing the potential danger.
Though moments later the defence couldn’t stop Jean-Marc Doussain scoring a penalty on 66 minutes that brought the French side within a converted try of victory.
And sure enough that try came with more pressure from Toulouse seeing substitute Louis Picamoles managing to stretch out and touch the ball to the white wash. It left Doussain with an easy conversion to take the lead for the first time in the game.
Saracens weren’t to be deterred, with Owen Farrell just coming up short with a penalty from within in his own half and that turned out to be Saracens last chance with Toulouse playing down the clock for a hard fought and impressive away win.