Heineken Cup Pool 3: Toulouse hit back to edge out Saracens
Toulouse inflicted a first defeat of the season on Saracens and seized control of Heineken Cup Pool 3 with a 17-16 win.
Last Updated: 19/10/13 8:45am
A record crowd of more than 61,000 watched Saracens take a 16-7 lead into the final quarter before the four-time champions stormed back to grab a crucial win.
A try from Chris Wyles and 11 points from Owen Farrell had put Sarries in the driving seat after Christopher Tolofua was driven over for Toulouse's first-half try, converted by Luke McAlister.
But Jean-Marc Doussain's penalty dragged Toulouse back to within a converted try and Louis Picamoles dived over from a five-metre scrum to set up Doussain's match-winning conversion.
With three minutes remaining Farrell attempted to snatch victory through a 55-metre penalty from inside his own half, only for the kick to fall just short.
Deep into injury time and following a 21-phase attack, the England fly-half tried a drop goal from 30 metres out, but it was blocked and failed to reach the posts.
Wing Chris Ashton was the star of the opening exchanges and he was involved in Wyles' try as space opened up on the right, swapping passes with the outside centre and creating the gap for his team-mate to dart over.
Three successive penalties from McAlister were wasted, but when David Strettle was sin-binned for tackling Yannick Nyanga without the ball the French club took their chance.
A line-out drive pierced the heart of Saracens' pack with giant prop Census Johnson providing the power and Tolofua touching down beneath a pile of bodies.
Scrum-half Doussain took over the kicking duties and completed the conversion, but a brutal hit by lock Alistair Hargreaves on Nyanga put Saracens back on the front foot.
Farrell missed a penalty but went on to land two in rapid succession, the second coming after Ashton, running at full speed, had almost plotted a route through the white shirts.
Toulouse, trailing 13-7, lost McAlister to what appeared to be a shoulder problem and the second half opened with Saracens taking command.
Ashton continued to look lively, a low kick putting the visiting defence under pressure and when they collapsed a scrum Farrell kicked his third penalty.
The bulldozing Johnston helped put Toulouse back on the attack, but a promising spell of phases ended when Farrell stole possession at a ruck, winning a penalty in the process.
Saracens were spending an increasing amount of time defending and while they were protecting their line brilliantly, pressure was mounting.
Doussain kicked a penalty and then disaster struck for the hosts when substitute Picamoles picked up from the back of a five-metre scrum and just managed to roll the ball on to the line.
The conversion was booted by Doussain before a thrilling finale as Saracens kept the ball alive and steadily advanced into the fringes of the Toulouse 22, before Farrell's attempted match-winner was blocked by the outstanding Doussain.