European Rugby Champions Cup: Toulouse 17-28 Saracens

Saracens v Toulouse
Saracens have reached the quarter-finals for a fifth consecutive season
European Rugby Champions Cup
Toulouse (7) 17
Tries: McAlister 2, Medard Cons: Flood
Saracens (9) 28
Tries: Spencer Cons: Farrell Pens: Hodgson 2, Farrell 4 Drop goals: Hodgson

Saracens beat Toulouse to make it six wins from six in the Champions Cup.

The Premiership champions had already secured a home quarter-final, while their French opponents' hopes of progressing were over.

Three kicks from Charlie Hodgson and a superb score from Ben Spencer gave the visitors a 12-point advantage.

Toulouse fought back through Maxime Medard's try and a second from Luke McAlister, but Owen Farrell's late penalties made sure of the Sarries win.

Saracens finish top of Pool One on 28 points, 10 ahead of Ulster in second who must wait to see if they progress as one of the three best runners-up.

Veteran fly-half Hodgson, who is set to retire at the end of the season, looked in imperious form as he kicked Sarries into a 9-0 lead in France, with two penalties and a drop goal.

Toulouse finally got themselves in order and they went over in their first real attack of the game at the end of the first half. Saracens wing Duncan Taylor failed to deal with McAlister's chip, after a brilliant tackle from Toby Flood, and ex-New Zealand fly-half McAlister crashed over.

England's Farrell came on for 35-year-old Hodgson after the break and he kicked a penalty before converting replacement scrum-half Spencer's brilliant try, touched down from a chip-and-chase on the counter attack.

Farrell then suffered an embarrassing fumble, as he dropped the ball over the line while attempting to touch down, but he made amends with a try-saving tackle to stop Yacouba Camara going over for the hosts before slotting another kick.

Owen Farrell
Saracens' Owen Farrell has a moment to forget when he dropped the ball before he could touch down over the try line

McAlister got his second score of the game to bring Toulouse back into the contest, and the four-time European champions added a third try when Medard finished off in the corner after some superb work by Paul Perez on the wing.

But two Farrell penalties in the final seven minutes settled Sarries and they kept their 100% record in the competition.

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall: "It was frustrating at times, we dominated the opening half an hour but didn't really come away with too much for all that domination.

"We had a few opportunities in the second half that could have made them lose interest but we dropped a few balls over the line and close to the line.

"To win in France, especially Toulouse, is a very difficult thing to do and I am very proud of my players."


Toulouse: Clement Poitrenaud; Vincent Clerc, Toby Flood, Florian Fritz, Paul Perez; Luke McAlister, Jean-Marc Doussain; Gurthro Steenkamp, Corey Flynn, Nemiah Tialata, Romain Millo-Chluski, Patricio Albacete (capt), Yacouba Camara, Imanol Harinordoquy, Gillian Galan.

Replacements: Christopher Tolofua, Cyril Baille, Gert Muller, Joe Tekori, Gregory Lamboley, David Mele, Gael Fickou, Maxime Médard.

Saracens: Alex Goode; Duncan Taylor, Marcelo Bosch, Brad Barritt (capt), Chris Wyles; Charlie Hodgson, Neil de Kock; Richard Barrington, Schalk Brits, Juan Figallo; Jim Hamilton, George Kruis; Michael Rhodes, Jacques Burger, Jackson Wray.

Replacements: Jamie George, Mako Vunipola, Petrus du Plessis, Hayden Smith, Billy Vunipola, Ben Spencer, Owen Farrell, Ben Ransom.

Referee: Nigel Owen (WRU)

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