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Rugby | Heineken Cup

Owen Farrell © Gallo Images

Farrell boots Saracens to victory



Owen Farrell kicked a record 10 penalties in a Heineken Cup tie to clinch a sensational 37-28 victory for Saracens at Racing Metro.

The England fly-half was imperious with the boot in the face a partisan French crowd with a perfect 11 kicks from as many attempts in a staggering 32-point haul.

Chris Wyles scored Saracens' only try of a tense clash though the Aviva Premiership side had to cope with two yellow cards, a try deficit of three to one and a worrying injury to David Strettle to pull off a vital victory.

The result leaves Saracens one win away from reaching the quarter-finals for the second year in succession.

It looked to be a different story when Racing Metro led 22-9 after just 25 minutes.

Saracens arrived at Stade de la Beaujoire on the back of four straight wins top of the group but this first Heineken Cup tie in Nantes could not have got off to a worse start.

Strettle was floored by what appeared to be a swinging forearm from behind by Fabrice Estebanez.

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The England wing was left bloodied and prone on the floor as play was stopped for almost 10 minutes for treatment before he was carried off.

Duncan Taylor took his place but the loss of their wing clearly disrupted Saracens.

Racing Metro seized early control of the scrums that put their back row on the front foot and their backs thrived on the possession.

Number eight Masi Matadigo made inroads, Juan-Martin Hernandez weaved close to the line before prop Luc Ducalcon crashed through Joel Tomkins and Brad Barritt on the line to score the opening try which was converted by Sebastien Descons.

Farrell responded with his first penalty but Chris Ashton's fumble ended with Argentina wing Juan Imhoff scampering clear for Racing's second.

Farrell again kept Saracens' score ticking over but again, Racing responded with a try.

Hernandez launched an ambitious attack from inside his own half after slipping out of Tomkins' grasp before timing his pass to Imhoff to perfection as the wing raced over to the joy of the home crowd. Descons again converted.

Farrell kicked a third penalty but Saracens looked in trouble when Will Fraser was ordered to the sin bin for striking Hernandez in the face with his elbow in a late challenge. Descons kicked the penalty to open a 22-9 lead.

Farrell and Descons traded penalties before Farrell kicked two more before the break, the second after suffering a shoulder barge that saw second-row Jone Quvo Nailiko binned.

That fuelled Saracens' belief and when Fraser supplied possession from a lineout, Farrell and Tomkins combined to send Wyles flying over before the conversion tied the scores at 25-25 after 48 minutes.

Farrell's seventh penalty handed Saracens the lead for the first time after 53 minutes though the French response was inevitable.

Neil De Kock's desperate tap tackle on Estebanez prevented a try only for Ashton to put his team under greater pressure when he was shown a yellow card for striking the Racing centre off the ball as the pressure grew.

Yet Saracens dug in and survived the 10 minute spell with a penalty apiece before their impressive defence pinned back their hosts time and again.

Farrell then added two more penalties including a last-minute strike from distance that crucially denied Racing even the consolation of a losing bonus point and effectively knocked the French giants out of the cup.

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