Toulouse edged a thrilling Heineken Cup clash in front of 61,000 at Wembley Stadium. Louis Picamoles’ try 11 minutes from time was converted by Jean -Marc Doussain as the four-time champions came from behind to win.
But that was only after Owen Farrell saw a last-gasp drop goal fall agonisingly short amid a thrilling climax to this compelling Pool 3 clash. Toulouse are now four points clear at the top of the pool while Saracens, who saw Chris Wyles cross after just eight minutes, picked up a losing bonus point despite their first loss of the season. A British record attendance for a Heineken Cup pool game crowded inside the iconic London venue and were treated to an enthralling game.
Saracens were unbeaten at home and abroad this season but Toulouse flexed their muscles in the scrum in the opening minutes with a sign of what was to come. However, Luke McAllister suffered an off-day with the boot and failed to capitalise on his forwards’ good work, missing three kicks in the first half. That looked set to come back to haunt the French when Wyles sailed over in the eighth minute.
The try came as a result of some ferocious tackling that clearly rattled the former champions. Clement Poitrenaud fumbled in midfield and the Saracens backs took full advantage as England pair David Strettle and Chris Ashton combined to send Wyles racing behind the posts. Farrell converted and Saracens led 7-0 early on.
Strettle was sinbinned on 19 minutes for a cynical infringement at the breakdown and Toulouse immediately struck back. Christophe Tolofua was at the tail of a devastating driving lineout as the Toulouse pack rumbled over the line from distance. Doussain converted after taking over the kicking duties from McAllister to level the scores. However, Farrell landed two kicks before half-time for a 13-7 lead at the interval.
Guy Noves rang the changes at the break but a third penalty by Farrell took Saracens out of seven-point range of Toulouse. Census Johnston provided a battering ram and Maxime Medard made a half-break but the Saracens defence proved equally impressive. But the French had the edge at the set-piece and when Poitrenaud and Yoann Huget earned a scrum five metres out when they floored Alex Goode, they went for the jugular.
A huge shove by the front row put replacement No8 Picamoles on the front foot to stretch out and score with 69 minutes gone. That set up a nail-biting climax and, after Farrell fell-short with a 55-metre penalty, the England fly-half’s late drop goal did not have the legs.