Heineken Cup Pool 3: Saracens edged out Connacht in opener
Saracens opened their Heineken Cup Pool 3 campaign with a 23-17 win away to Connacht.
Last Updated: 11/10/13 11:03pm
Early tries from Chris Wyles and Chris Ashton looked to have put the in-form English side on the way to a comfortable night in Galway.
But it did work out that way; Connacht responded with two tries of their own through Kieran Marmion and Danie Poolman to level at 17-17 by half-time.
Saracens reasserted their dominance after the break and two penalties from Owen Farrell in the second half were enough to give them their sixth straight win in all competitions.
Saracens scored twice inside eight minutes; Wyles taking the outside route to the line after his centre partner Joel Tomkins created some extra space with a decoy run and, after a Dan Parks penalty put Connacht on the board, Ashton finished off a flowing move in the right corner.
Farrell converted both for a 14-3 lead but Connacht tightened up in defence and gradually began to enjoy more territory.
And the Irish province had their first try in the 17th minute, scrum-half Marmion pouncing on a loose ball and running it in under the posts after Parks' up-and-under was spilled.
A Farrell penalty extended Saracens' advantage to 17-10 after Connacht infringed at a ruck but it was the home side who continued to press and they got their second try on 31 minutes when Marmion sent wing Poolman over from close range. Parks' second conversion levelled things up at 17-17.
Saracens, who lost flanker Will Fraser to injury before half-time, enjoyed a stranglehold on territory after the break but were twice stopped just short in quick succession.
Farrell put his team back in front with a 53rd-minute penalty and padded the lead to six points with another three pointer - which took his personal tally to 13 points - with four minutes remaining.
Connacht roused themselves for one last effort and the match ended with Saracens having to stand firm in defence on their own line to complete a hard-fought victory.