Toulouse 21 Saracens 11 match report: Saracens’ approach founders on the boot of Jean-Marc Doussain

Second-half was a true contest of will and power on a spring-like day

Stade Ernest-Wallon

Seven penalties from Jean-Marc Doussain sank Saracens’ hopes of a home game at Allianz Park in the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup but, unless something disastrous happens in their final game against Connacht this weekend, they will be in the top eight when the knockout draw is made.

It is provocative to describe Saracens as subdued, but that is what they were in the second half of a game which produced only one try but was a true contest of will and power on a spring-like day.

When Sarries took their bow at the end, as Toulouse walked their way through a lap of honour, heads were not down. But there was not even the consolation of a losing bonus point, which was all they had salvaged when losing by one point to Toulouse at home in October. And, when they lost Mako Vunipola to the sin-bin for 10 minutes midway through the second half, exchanges were even at three points each.  

Mark McCall, the Saracens coach, acknowledged that Toulouse had the ability to raise their game – though not when losing to Connacht at home – and the top team in the English table had clearly come second.

But McCall, while paying tribute to the work done by a truly impressive Toulouse back row trio, said he still felt he had a squad which could go all the way in the European Cup. There are some gnarly old campaigners in that band of brothers, but also some younger talent coming through well.

It took referee Alain Rolland just 20 seconds to award the first penalty to Toulouse, and Doussain just a few more to give his side the lead, but the remainder of the opening exchanges belonged to the visitors as they battered their way upfield. The first of some rugged passages of defence for both sides was under way.

And the first blood went to Saracens. Their pack had the better of the exchanges throughout the first half and a sniping run by Chris Ashton also gave them what proved to be the game’s only try. The sell-out crowd, with the exception of the few travelling members of the Fez tendency, did not like that.

In a rapier-versus-broadsword battle, the Toulousains made some seriously threatening runs to the Saracens line only to be stopped, sometimes to the whistling disdain of the crowd, in less than legal fashion. In one run down the left wing Hosea Gear left Ashton for dead; Yoann Huget was his tantalisingly mercurial self; and Clément Poitrenaud, filling the gap left in the centre by Florian Fritz, out with a broken arm from a motorcycle accident, was another who could complain of illegal blocking when chasing the ball. Clearly Rolland did not agree.

Englandfly-half Owen Farrell gave Saracens back the lead with a 27th-minute penalty but the third and fourth of Doussain’s kicks gave the four-time European champions a four-point lead at half time.

The second 40 minutes were worth a huge amount of money to both sides. Each team knew a win would almost certainly guarantee a home quarter-final. With all the funding that should generate, that could add up to a million-pound game with the mouthwatering prospect of more to come.

It might not repay Nigel Wray for all the money he has poured into Saracens  over the years. It would allow Toulouse coach Guy Novès, often pacing the line on his own, looking like Captain Ahab urging his men to kill the whale of opposition, easily to contemplate inking in a transfer agreement for Toby Flood.

“It was a very good performance,” Novès said. “Very physical. A true match.”

Not that he is likely to take his foot off the pedal for the final match, away to Zebre in Italy. A win with a four-try bonus point would be icing on the cake in a three-week run that began with a Toulousain victory over Clermont Auvergne.

When Saracens entertain Connacht, they will be equally determined not to take anything for granted.

Scorers: Toulouse – Penalties: Doussain 7. Saracens – Try: Ashton. Penalties: Farrell 2.

Toulouse: M Médard; Y Huget, Y David (rep. G Fickou 48) , C Poitrenaud, H Gear; J-M Doussain, J Vermaak (rep S Bezy, 79); S Ferreira, C Ralepelle (rep C Tolofua 65), C Johnston (rep G Steenkamp, 60), Y Maestri (rep R Millo-Chluski, 60), P Albacete, Y Nyanga, T Dusautoir Cap (repI Tekori, 77)), L Picamoles.

Saracens: A Goode; C Ashton, C Wyles (rep D Taylor 55), B Barritt, D Strettle; O Farrell (rep C Hodgson, 68), N de Kock (rep R Wigglesworth, 51); M Vunipola, S Brits (rep J Gworge, 71), J Johnston, S Borthwick (Capt), A Hargreaves (rep G Kruis, 51), J Wray (rep E Jooubert, 55), K Brown, B Vunipola.

Referee: A Rolland

Attendance: 18,838

Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

News
A Brazilian wandering spider
news

World's most lethal spider found under a bunch of bananas

Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

News
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
tech

Company decides to go for simply scary after criticising other sites for 'creepy and targeted' advertising

Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in the win over QPR
footballInternet reacts to miss shocker for Liverpool striker
News
news

Footage shot by a passerby shows moment an ill man was carried out of his burning home

Voices
Sol Campbell near his home in Chelsea
voices
News
i100
News
Kimi the fox cub
newsBurberry under fire from animal rights group - and their star, Kimi
Sport
Fans of Palmeiras looks dejected during the match between Palmeiras and Santos
footballPalmeiras fan killed trying to 'ambush' bus full of opposition supporters
News
people
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
filmsIt's nearly a wrap on Star Wars: Episode 7, producer reveals
Travel
travel

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past