Saracens dealt Heineken Cup blow with Toulouse defeat

17:23 12 January 2014

Chris Ashton of Saracens. Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images

Chris Ashton of Saracens. Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images

2013 Getty Images

Heineken Cup: Toulouse 21 Saracens 11

Saracens saw their hopes of topping Pool 3 in the Heineken Cup all but ended in south-west France as they were beaten 21-11 by Toulouse.

An early try from Chris Ashton and two penalties from Owen Farrell kept them in the hunt at the Stade Ernest Wallon but Toulouse will win the group unless they slip to a shock defeat at Zebre next week.

Sarries’ scramble defence was outstanding in limiting Toulouse to seven Jean-Marc Doussain penalties but the French giants were far more threatening throughout as the likes of Hosea Gear and Yohan Huget cut loose at regular intervals.

Toulouse are guaranteed a place in the last eight but are still unsure of top spot in the pool, while Mark McCall’s men will also be confident of joining them in the knockout stages when they host Connacht next week.

The opening points of the game came immediately after the kick-off as a huge chase from Toulouse forced Billy Vunipola to hang on to the ball, with Doussain slotting the penalty from 10 metres to the right.

But it was Sarries who were celebrating the first try after eight minutes as Ashton darted down the blindside when Toulouse were sloppy around the fringes and Gear got sucked in at a close-range ruck.

Farrell uncharacteristically sent the conversion across the face of the posts after Ashton had done well to race around 10 metres in from touch.

Doussain kicked a second penalty from straight in front after Sarries were caught with hands in the ruck after 14 minutes but superb scramble defence from the visitors prevented them falling further behind following a brilliant Toulouse break led by Huget and Maxime Medard.

Farrell kicked Sarries in front when Census Johnston was penalised at a 27th-minute scrum but the score swung back in Toulouse’s favour straight after the kick-off as Doussain struck his third penalty to make it 9-8.

That single-point advantage soon became four when Doussain added another penalty in the 33rd minute but Saracens were fortunate not to have been further behind after a missed tackle from Ashton left them in all sorts of trouble.

The England wing handed his opposite number a free run down the left after being bumped off on halfway and Gear’s clever step and offload to Chiliboy Ralepelle had Toulouse within five metres of the tryline.

Sarries scrambled superbly as the likes of Louis Picamoles, Yann David and Yohan Maestri all battered forwards, with Yannick Nyanga eventually held up over the line and skipper Thierry Dusautoir opting for the posts from the resulting penalty.

Sarries trailed 12-8 at the break and they could have been further adrift in the opening stages of the second half as Toulouse began brightly.

Saracens were again exemplary in defence, though, and a Doussain penalty on 50 minutes was Toulouse’s only reward.

Doussain missed with a drop goal attempt seven minutes later as Sarries all but emptied their bench and he was off target from the tee on the hour.

Sarries’ task got significantly tougher moments later, though, as Mako Vunipola saw yellow for a breakdown offence and Doussain’s penalty made it 18-8.

Farrell brought Sarries back to within bonus point range with a quarter of an hour left but a seventh strike from Doussain robbed them of that consolation with three minutes remaining.

Related articles


Latest Hampstead & Highgate Sports News

Yesterday, 16:00

Spencer McCall is immediately targeting a new objective – avenging Hendon’s opening day defeat to Worthing – after their FA Cup dreams evaporated at Boreham Wood.

Yesterday, 07:00

Hampstead & Westminster captain Toby Roche has set his side the target of joining club hockey’s European elite after emerging as the league’s surprise package this season.

Thu, 22:30

Mauricio Pochettino says he is happy with Dele Alli’s goal return and insists the midfielder should not be expected to score as regularly as a striker.

Thu, 14:16

Mauricio Pochettino feels summer signing Vincent Janssen might be putting too much pressure on himself as he bids to end his dry run in front of goal, and the Tottenham manager says the Dutchman simply needs some encouragement and patience.

Thu, 12:00

A fixture between Toulon and Saracens is always billed as a blockbuster – and Saturday’s pool three Champions Cup opener certainly lived up to the pre-game excitement.

Wed, 21:51

Arsenal’s first match against Bulgarian opposition was a successful one, as Arsene Wenger’s men ran out comfortable 6-0 winners on matchday three of the Uefa Champions League group stage.

Wed, 17:00

Hendon boss Gary McCann admits he is “embarrassed” by Hendon’s lowly league placing – but he expects it to change as players return from injury and suspension.

Spurs Ladies midfielder Maya Vio says the team’s clinical streak in front of goal is down to their hard-working nature.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Most read Hampstead & Highgate sport


Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot


Cosmetics, toiletries, vitamins and more. Boots is the number one choice when it comes to purchasing daily essentials.

If you’re obsessed with Apple or just love a good gadget, this is a prize that will blow you away! An incredible £3,333 to spend on Apple goodies! How would you like to be the proud new owner of the Apple Watch?

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now