Connacht's crusade began in heartbreaking fashion as they fell 23-17 short of a shock win over Saracens in the Heineken Cup at The Sportsground last night.
The Premiership club shot clear with tries by centre Chris Wyles and wing Chris Ashton in the fifth and eighth minutes, both converted by Owen Farrell to sandwich a Dan Parks penalty.
Connacht needed something to get going. Suddenly, scrum-half Kieron Marmion showed his predatory instincts by haring away for a try Connacht needed so badly in the 17th minute. Parks converted to cut the leeway to four points.
Farrell pulled Sarries seven ahead before Marmion became finisher-turned creator with a slide-rule pass for impressive wing Danie Poolman to come off his left foot to dumbfound two defenders in the 31st minute.
Parks was on the mark with the conversion, but missed out on a shot at goal that would have taken Connacht into a lead at the break, settling for 17-17.
The stalemate was broken when Farrell slotted a 52nd minute penalty as the game deteriorated into a fitful spectacle.
Farrell moved the lead out to six points in the 74th minute before they had to withstand a late Connacht revival that ended in the shadow of the Saracens posts.
They had to settle for a losing bonus point. So close and, yet again, so far.