Saturday 21 April 2018

Sarries survive Farrell howler to complete a clean sweep

Neil De Kock for Saracens in action Photo:Getty
Neil De Kock for Saracens in action Photo:Getty
Saracens' flanker from England Billy Vunipola (c, down) breaks away from Toulouse's French scrum-half Gerd Muller Photo:AFP/Getty
Saracens players celebrate after winning the European Rugby Union Champions Cup match against Toulouse Photo:AFP/Getty newsdesk

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall was proud of his side after they powered past Toulouse to keep up their 100 per cent winning run in the Champions Cup.

McCall's side could finish the Champions Cup pool stages as top seeds, depending on Leicester's result today, after making it six from six in Pool One with a 28-17 win.

They did not have it all their own way in Toulouse, where a howler from England international Owen Farrell almost cost Saracens the win after the French side scored two second half tries. Farrell fumbled the ball when going to touch down for Saracens' second try but two penalties in the final seven minutes from the 24-year-old secured the victory.

McCall said: "Owen's had a great season for us so we'll forgive him for that one mistake. It was frustrating at times, we dominated the opening half an hour but didn't really come away with too much for all that domination.

"We had a few opportunities in the second half that could have made them lose interest but we dropped a few balls over the line and close to the line. To win in France, especially Toulouse, is a very difficult thing to do and I am very proud of my players."

Meanwhile, denying Toulon a home quarter-final will be no consolation for Bath after handing a 19-14 victory to the three-time European champions.

The hosts were leading 14-11 just short of the hour mark when Scotland flanker David Denton claimed Quade Cooper's tricky cross-field kick and promptly gave the ball away to Springbok wing Bryan Habana, who scored one of the easiest tries of his illustrious career.

Bath had fought their way back into the game with a try just after half-time by Anthony Watson and had taken the lead with a George Ford penalty.

It took a late James O'Connor penalty to seal victory for the French side who had to fight hard to see off the home challenge but they needed two more tries to finish ahead of Wasps in Pool Five.

Northampton must nervously await today's results after claiming a bonus-point 22-10 win away to Scarlets. The Saints secured maximum points with ease, thanks to tries from Harry Mallinder, George Pisi, Sam Dickinson and George North, to wrap up second place in Pool Three on 19 points and leave the hapless hosts rooted to the bottom with six defeats.

Glasgow inflicted a first defeat of the same pool on Racing 92, who had already secured top spot, with a 22-5 home victory.

Vern Cotter hopes to add some bite to Scotland's Six Nations ambitions after luring Richie Gray back to his homeland from South Africa. Gray has been hired on a consultancy basis to act as a "defensive contact specialist".

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