Oct 13, 2016
'Last of the Mohicans' preparing for Stade Felix-Mayol return
This Saturday four Saracens are poised to return to the Stade Felix Mayol seven years to the day that they faced the French giants in Sarries colours in the French Riviera.
Skipper Brad Barritt, evergreen half-back Neil de Kock, wing Chris Wyles and full-back Alex Goode are all survivors form the Sarries side who lost to a Toulon in the Challenge Cup in October 2009. The hosts boasted the likes of England legend Jonny Wilkinson, former Falcons centre Tom May, South African loose forward Joe Van Niekerk and former Sarries stalwart Kris Chesney in their ranks.
Centre Barritt, who had recently arrived from Sharks a season before the clash, produced a strong performance at the heart of a Sarries backline that included the likes of fly-half Derick Hougaard, centre Rod Penney and wings Richard Haughton and Chris Wyles.
Then 21-years old, Alex Goode came off the bench to replace Michael Horak as Saracens went down 31-23 to the home-side.
Prolific wing Haughton crossed for a try on the night, with flanker Wikus Van Heerden Sarries’ other scorer. The metronomic boot of Derick Hougaard kept the scoreboard ticking over for Brendan Venter’s side but it wasn’t enough on the night as Sarries were defeated in the Cote d’Azur.
“I suppose the four of us are the last of the Mohicans of that group!” said Brad Barritt. “I remember the game well. It was a Thursday night game in the Challenge Cup, and Toulon had Jonny (Wilkinson) pulling the strings for them. They were starting to make a name for themselves across the continent and we were on the beginning of our own journey with Brendan (Venter) coming in - so there are a few parallels between the clubs. Both teams have gone on to achieve an incredible amount in those seven years so it will be great to get back to the Stade Felix-Mayol this weekend and hopefully go one better and get the win.”
Alex Goode: “It remember it was pretty special atmosphere. It’s a tough place to go and play and as a team starting to knit together so we used the weekend as a good bonding trip around St Tropez, which was great for us. In Europe you want to test yourselves in the best arenas against the best teams, and Toulon away is certainly fits the bill.”
Sarries wing, Chris Wyles: “It was a Thursday evening game and the noised and colour really stick out for me. It’s a brilliant place to play rugby and we’re looking forward to facing them once again.”
Toulon 31 Saracens 23, Amlin Challenge Cup, October 15 2009
Toulon: Rooney, Lamont, Lovobalavu, May (Fauque), Loamanu, Wilkinson, Mignoni (Henjak), Emmanuelli, Fitzgerald (Djoudi), Lea'aetoa (Ryan), Lozada (Senekal), Chesney, Van Niekerk, Fernández Lobbe, Auelua (Missoup).
Tries Lovobalavu 2, May. Cons Wilkinson 2. Pens Wilkinson 4.
Saracens: Horak (Goode), Haughton, Penney, Barritt (Jackson), Wyles, Hougaard, Marshall (De Kock), Agüero (Ongaro, 50), Reynecke (Gill), Skuse (Nieto), Borthwick, Ryder (Vyvyan), Van Heerden, Saull (Joubert), Owen.
Tries Van Heerden, Haughton. Cons Hougaard, Haughton.
Pens Hougaard 3.
Referee John Lacey (Ireland)