Jan 21, 2017
Saracens book home quarter final with tightly fought win over Toulon
Saracens overcame Toulon 10-3 in one of the closest fought matches Allianz Park has seen to book a home quarter final in the European Champions Cup.
Toulon started the game with intent and it was the French side who had the first chance to score, moving the ball through the phases in the midfield until winger Bryan Habana spotted a gap in the Sarries defence and dashed towards the line. Referee Nigel Owens went upstairs but the TMO confirmed Habana to be just short of the whitewash.
Five minutes later and Toulon had another shot at five points but Josua Tuisova, who looked to be in for the score, dropped the ball over the line.
Saracens maintained their composure though, despite ongoing pressure from the visitors, and had their own opportunity soon after as they pushed into the Toulon 22, going through the phases as they looked for a gap in a watertight Toulon defence. In the end the ball was turned over and the visitors cleared but one thing was clear, this was going to be a tightly fought contest.
20 minutes played and the scoreline read 0-0 between the two sides, with the Saracens defence putting in a huge effort to contain Toulon as the home side began to wrestle control of play. Owen Farrell lined up a drop goal attempt as the men in black went on the attack but the effort drifted wide.
Saracens got the first points of the day on the board with half an hour played. Toulon’s Duane Vermeulen was yellow carded for a high tackle, giving Saracens a penalty in front of the posts which Farrell slotted to bag the three points.
The lead gave Saracens a boost and it was the North Londoners who dominated the attacking play for the remaining ten minutes of the half with Marcelo Bosch going close to a score only for the ball to be held up. Half time score Saracens 3 Toulon 0
The second half started in much the same vein as the first as two closely matched sides battled it out up front and in defence with very little to separate them.
Saracens got their first chance to add to their three points just before the hour mark when Owen Farrell lined up a long range penalty but the kick didn’t quite have the distance.
Shortly after though and Saracens broke the second half deadlock to go in for the first try of the afternoon, Chris Ashton darting through the defence on his wing to score to the delight of the Allianz Park faithful. Farrell converted to give Saracens a 10-0 lead.
With just over ten minutes left on the clock Toulon put their first points on the board as Leigh Halfpenny landed a long range penalty from just within the Sarries half.
Toulon needed a win to secure their spot in the quarter finals though and with five minutes left to play looked to be in for a try in the corner only to be denied by a stunning try saving tackle from Saracens’ Mike Rhodes who has been one of Saracens’ finest tacklers in the competition so far.
As the clocked ticked down the Saracens defence were made to show what they’re made of as Toulon pushed forward again and again, making some bruising hits in the process. Once again the visitors looked to be in for a score only to be denied by a Will Skelton tackle, only a fraction ahead of the try line.
As the game approached the final whistle Leigh Halfpenny had another chance to add to Toulon’s points but his penalty kick hit the post and Saracens were able to gather and clear. With Saracens' fans biting their nails the clock hit 80 minutes, the ball was booted out and Saracens celebrated a hard fought victory over one of their toughest oppositons. Final score Saracens 10 Toulon 3.
Saracens: Alex Lozowski; Chris Ashton, Marcelo Bosch, Nick Tompkins, Sean Maitland; Owen Farrell (c), Richard Wigglesworth; Richard Barrington(Lamositele 61), Jamie George(Brits 53), du Plessis( Figallo 53), Maro Itoje, Jim Hamilton( Skelton 53), Michael Rhodes, Schalk Burger, Jackson Wray
Replacements: Schalk Brits, Titi Lamositele, Juan Figallo, Will Skelton, Kelly Brown, Ben Spencer, Tim Streather, Nathan Earle
Scores Try Ashton (60):
Penalty Farrell 1/2:
RC Toulon: Leigh Halfpenny; Josua Tuisova, Mathieu Bastareaud, Ma'a Nonu, Bryan Habana; Matt Giteau, Sebastien Tillous-Borde(Pelissie 64); Laurent Delboulbès( Chiocci 41), Guilhem Guirado, Levan Chilachava( Van de Merwe 53), Mamuka Gorgodze, Romain Taofifenua(Suta 52), Juan Smith( Manoa 64), Juan Fernandez Lobbe( Gill 64), Duane Vermeulen (c)
Replacements: Jean-Charles Orioli, Xavier Chiocci, Marcel Van Der Merwe, Liam Gill, Jocelino Suta, Pierre Bernard, Jonathan Pelissie, Samu Manoa
Scores Penalty Halfpenny:
Yellow card Vermeulen (30):
Scoring sequence 3-0 Farrell penalty; 8-0 Ashton try; 10-0 Farrell con; 10-3 Halfpenny pen: