Skrela Jnr sinks Saracens

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The Independent Online

Saracens were beaten by a last-minute drop goal from David Skrela yesterday in their opening Heineken Cup game in Toulouse. So, despite leading at half-time and staying in touch with last season's beaten finalists in a pulsating second half, they were denied a share of the spoils.

Saracens were beaten by a last-minute drop goal from David Skrela yesterday in their opening Heineken Cup game in Toulouse. So, despite leading at half-time and staying in touch with last season's beaten finalists in a pulsating second half, they were denied a share of the spoils.

Thierry Lacroix kicked three penalties and converted a François Pienaar try, but it was not enough to deny the French side a perfect start.

Defeat at Gloucester last week was hardly the preparation Saracens had wanted, but their performance early on in this bruising but thoroughly enjoyable game was impressive. They were 6-0 to the good inside 13 minutes thanks to a brace of penalties from Lacroix and they led 13-10 at the break courtesy of the try.

Colomiers, beaten in last season's final by Ulster, struck back in the 19th minute with a penalty from Skrela and he then boosted his tally with the conversion of a try from hooker Marc Del Maso.

Having gained the upper hand at the line-out, Saracens opted to kick for touch when awarded a penalty inside the Colomiers 22, nine minutes from the interval. The ensuing maul was held up over the line, but from the resulting scrum Pienaar was sent crashing over.

The second half was dominated by the Colomiers pack, who drove with great purpose as they had throughout last season's competition. Skrela added another penalty on 45 minutes and though Lacroix made it 16-13 with his third of the afternoon, Skrela was back on target two minutes later to restore parity.

Then it was left to the 20-year-old son of former French coach, Jean-Claude, to win the day and deny Saracens, who meet Munster in a must-win game next weekend, an enjoyable journey home.

Colomiers : Try Del Maso; Conversion Skrela; Penalties Skrela 3; Drop goal Skrela. Saracens ; Try Pienaar; Conversion Lacroix; Penalties Lacroix 3.

Colomiers : J-L Sadourny; M Biboulet, S Roque, J Sieurac, D Skrela; M Carre (B Lhande, 42), F Galthie (capt); J-P Beyssen (R Nones, 70), M Del Maso, W Begarie, G Moro (H Manent, 78), J-M Lorenzi (J-P Revailler, 50), B De Giusti, P Tabacco, S Peysson (P Pueyo, 74).

Saracens : R Thirlby; R Constable, B Johnston (J Thomson, 57), K Sorrell, D O'Mahony; T Lacroix, N Walshe; D Flatman (R Grau, 51), G Chuter, P Wallace, S Murray (K Chesney, 73), D Grewcock, R Hill, F Pienaar (capt), A Diprose.

Referee : I Ramage (Scotland).

* Stade Français beat a mistake-ridden Glasgow Caledonians 37-18 in Paris in their Pool 1 match.

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