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Little to separate Toulon and Saracens

Thursday 12th May 2022

2:31 pm (GMT)

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Little to separate Toulon and Saracens

Saracens' Owen Farrell has scored 854 points in EPCR competitions

Something will have to give in Saturday’s EPCR Challenge Cup semi-final at the Stade Félix Mayol on Saturday night, with both sides having won three of their previous six meetings in European competition.

The last time these two teams met in Europe, Saracens won home and away in the 2016/17 Heineken Champions Cup pool stage on the way to winning the competition.

However, Toulon boast a perfect record over Saracens in knockout rugby, winning their 2012/13 Heineken Champions Cup semi-final and then the final of the same competition the following season.

The game kicks off at 20:00 (UK & Irish time) and will be televised live on BT Sport, beIN SPORTS, and France 4.

Pool positions

Toulon: 1st Pool A.

Saracens: 3rd Pool C.


Toulon 19 London Irish 18

Gloucester Rugby 17 Saracens 44

EPCR Challenge Cup head-to-head record

Toulon wins: 1

Draws: 0

Saracens wins: 1

Leading 2021/22 points-scorers

Toulon: Louis Carbonel (41)

Saracens: Owen Farrell (49)

Key quotes

Franck Azema (Toulon head coach): “It is a fabulous match-up – everyone dreamed of it. That is what happens now. They are used to these games. They are used to the Champions Cup. They know what is required, so we must recover well for this battle.”

Mark McCall (Saracens director of rugby): “It feels like a big match. We are aware of Toulon’s talent, and how good they are. If we play together as a team, then we will have a chance.”

Other key stats

  • Saracens are bidding to reach the final of the Challenge Cup for the first time, having fallen at the semi-final stage three times previously, losing out to Bath in 2002/03 and 2006/07, and then to Northampton Saints in 2008/09.
  • Toulon have played three previous semi-finals in the Challenge Cup and won them all, beating Connacht Rugby in 2009/10, Stade Français Paris in 2011/12 and Leicester Tigers in 2019/20. However, they are hunting their first Challenge Cup as they went on to lose all three of those finals.
  • Toulon have won their last 17 completed home matches in the Challenge Cup, their last such defeat coming back in January 2009 to Bristol Bears. Their run of 17 wins started against Saracens.
  • Saracens have won five of their last six completed away games against TOP 14 opposition in the Challenge Cup. However, their solitary defeat in that run came against Toulon (23-31 in October 2009).
  • Saracens’ Owen Farrell needs one more point to reach 50 in the Challenge Cup this season. It would be the eighth European campaign in which he has reached at least a half century of points, only failing to do so in 2019/20, 2014/15 and 2010/11.
  • Gervais Cordin (Toulon) has beaten 19 defenders across his four appearances in the Challenge Cup this season. Only two players (Steeve Barry, Taine Basham) have beaten more.
  • Saracens’ Billy Vunipola is the only player totalling 50+carries in the Challenge Cup this season (56). He also ranks fifth for metres carried (348).

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Villière brace as Toulon see off Saracens to reach final

Saturday 14th May 2022

10:12 pm (GMT)

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Villière brace as Toulon see off Saracens to reach final

Toulon’s Gabin Villière celebrates Jiuta Naqoli Wainiqolo's try against Saracens

RC Toulon set up an EPCR Challenge Cup final against fellow TOP 14 side Lyon as two tries from Gabin Villière helped them to a 25-16 victory over Saracens at Stade Félix Mayol.

Villière’s fantastic double and a stunning Jiuta Naqoli Wainiqolo effort, in addition to 10 points from Louis Carbonel, saw the hosts emerge victorious after a bruising encounter between two three-time European champions.

Saracens crossed through Ben Earl and Owen Farrell kicked 11 points, but they were ultimately unable to match hosts’ immense physicality.

Toulon flew out of the blocks and put Saracens on the back foot after forcing a turnover, with wing Villière going over in the corner after a smart kick from scrum-half Baptiste Serin.

Fly-half Carbonel’s conversion extended Toulon’s lead, but the gap was cut to four points on 12 minutes as Saracens counterpart Farrell nudged a penalty over the posts.

Farrell took aim from the tee again moments later but saw his effort cannon off the post, only for flanker Earl to charge down Toulon’s clearing kick and dot down brilliantly. Farrell’s conversion put Saracens 10-7 up.

Farrell and Carbonel slotted a penalty apiece as the first half ticked by, the Toulon man pulling another effort wide before the hosts eventually reclaimed the lead as a slick move saw Villière cross for his second of the evening in the final play.

Centre Elliot Daly was off target with a long-range penalty early in the second half as Saracens looked to move back in front, but Toulon would extend their lead on 52 minutes as Carbonel knocked over another three-pointer.

Farrell reduced that deficit with his third penalty of the game six minutes later, but wing Wainiqolo produced a brilliant try as he stepped inside to beat a handful of Saracens defenders and swing the momentum back in Toulon’s favour, Carbonel’s extras sending the hosts 11 points clear.

Saracens rhythm was regularly disrupted by terrific Toulon defence, and they ultimately kept the visitors at bay – replacement Callum Hunter-Hill held up as he looked to drive over from close range with 10 minutes to play.

And there would be no further chances for Saracens as Toulon stormed into the final, which takes place at Stade Vélodrome, Marseille, on May 27.

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