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Toulon 23 Saracens 6

24 May 2014
Toulon 23 Saracens 6

Aviva Premiership finalists Saracens were unable to mark their first ever Heineken Cup final with a win as Jonny Wilkinson took a step closer to a fairytale career ending, kicking 13 points as Toulon ran out winners in Cardiff.

Saracens had started the stronger with Owen Farell kicking an early penalty but tries from Matt Giteau and Juan Smith either side of a second Farrell three-pointer earned the French team a deserved win.

Despite the loss, Saracens can still end their season on a high with an Aviva Premiership final against Northampton Saints at Twickenham to look forward to next weekend.

It was Saracens who burst out of the blocks from the kick off, with Chris Ashton clattering into Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, who had got himself underneath Farrell’s pinpoint kick.

The North London side got the first points on the board soon after with their pack forcing a penalty at the scrum, which Farrell slotted between the posts.

Sarries had a chance to further extend that lead through kicks at goal from Marcelo Bosch and another from Farrell, both of which missed to the left.

The opening 30 minutes of the encounter were punctuated by referee Alain Rolland repeatedly going to the TMO to spot infringements.

One of the more obvious resulted in Lobbe being sent to the sin bin for bringing down Alistair Hargreaves in the air.

The game then saw some real skill as former Newcastle Falcons player Wilkinson reversed the direction of play at the breakdown, passing right for Giteau to kick through.

Drew Mitchell beat Alex Goode to the bouncing ball and managed to offload to an onrushing Giteau who went over the line.

Wilkinson made no mistake with the conversion and seven minutes later the departing legend brought the French fans to life with a drop goal from in front of the posts.

Farrell got Saracens back within four points in the opening minutes of the second half after Xavier Chiocci was penalised for collapsing a scrum.

Wilkinson calmly restored the seven-point lead for Toulon, scoring from the tee after Steffon Armitage won a penalty from the scrum.

Lobbe turned from villain to hero on the hour mark as he interchanged with Smith on an incisive Toulon break down the right, passing back to the South African to score the French side’s second try.

Toulon’s number ten extended the lead to three-scores with another clinical penalty from in front of the posts.

Mathieu Bastareaud tried to replicate a typical Wilkinson drop-goal, but the big centre failed to stake his claim for the retiring star’s shirt with a forgettable effort.

Man-of-the-match Armitage nearly broke through for a third Toulon try, taking the ball at the lineout and hitting the Saracens line with speed, but a slip saw his momentum lost.

Saracens turned the ball over again and Virgile Bruni stormed down the left wing, only for a last-ditch tackle to send him flying out of bounds before the tryline.

Toulon played out the final minutes in comfort as they retained the Heineken Cup.