One moment summed it up.

With six minutes to play Jonny Wilkinson unleashed a drop goal kick before being instantly clattered by Owen Farrell. Entangled on the ground both players looked up to watch the ball sail through the posts and Wilkinson turned to his opponent before offering a consoling pat on the shoulder.

Then and there, Farrell realised this had been Wilkinson’s semi-final.

Toulon’s number ten kicked seven out of seven penalties and one drop goal to fire his side to a 24-12 victory that ends Saracens’ dream of reaching a Heineken Cup final for the first time.

Farrell converted four penalties himself but Saracens were too careless without the ball and too wasteful with it as two golden try-scoring opportunities went begging in the second half and with them the Men in Black’s hopes of a comeback.

This was dubbed the battle of the kickers and that was how it played out: head tilt against hand clasp, young versus old, the battle lines were drawn within five minutes as Farrell and Wilkinson exchanged early penalties to take the score to 3-3.

Toulon though started the stronger and it was to Saracens’ credit that a harrowing opening spell only yielded three penalties for the French side, all of which Wilkinson dispatched with minimal fuss.

The French side’s best opportunity came when Alexis Palisson broke through the Saracens defence and with the half opening up, the winger drove a kick left for Delon Armitage to chase unchallenged.

Saracens drew breath and on this occasion had the luck with them as the bounce sped through and out of play.

While the 25,584 crowd may have been a pale comparison to Twickenham’s blockbuster occasions of days gone by, Wilkinson - in front of the watching Lions coach Warren Gatland - looked as precise, sharp and clinical as ever.

Richard Wigglesworth and Farrell were handed responsibility for closing down Toulon’s main man but neither were able to restrict his influence. Farrell patted Wilkinson on the back at one point almost apologetically after a slightly late shut down.

The Sarries man though was by no means happy to sit back and applaud, striking his second penalty of the match to reduce the deficit to 9-6 after 21 minutes.

While Farrell was typically accurate with the boot, Saracens were unusually careless, surrendering penalties unnecessarily and letting Toulon keep the scoreboard ticking.

Wilkinson kicked like clockwork too as another penalty made it 12-6 to Toulon after 24 minutes.

Saracens pride themselves on solving a game’s problems as they go and they took advantage of a break in play to hold a team huddle. Whatever was on the agenda it had the desired effect as the Men in Black settled into the match and looked more comfortable for the remainder of the half.

On 30 minutes Saracens carved out their first opportunity as a two on one saw Ernst Joubert with the ball but the number eight mysteriously ignored Kelly Brown outside him, cutting back inside and the chance was missed.

Farrell added his third penalty of the game to take the score to 12-9 at half time.

The second half started as the first finished with Saracens on the front foot but again pressure was not converted into points and again indiscipline allowed Toulon to take advantage as Wilkinson kicked his fifth penalty to make it 15-9.

The Men in Black were given greater encouragement though as Danie Rossouw was sin-binned for a high tackle on Mako Vunipola.

Farrell hauled Saracens back to within three points with another effort from the tee and they should have had five more soon after.

Pulling the Toulon defence from side to side, the left flank opened up for Farrell who only needed to find a free Kelly Brown out wide but his long looping pass went forward and the chance went begging.

To rub salt into the wounds Wilkinson added another three points minutes later but Saracens were on top and just before the hour mark created an almost identical position again out on the left.

This time though Joel Tomkins was the offender as Chris Wyles waited to receive the ball and walk it over the line but Tomkins’ pass again was forward and Sarries were again left frustrated.

Toulon looked vulnerable and presented Saracens with another chance soon after with a comically inept lineout as Jean-Charles Orioli’s throw met the back of Chris Masoe but with the ball stolen five metres from the line Sarries were unable to capitalise.

It seemed inevitable those three missed opportunities would spell the end of Saracens' hopes and so it proved as Wilkinson once again played the executioner with first a drop-goal in the 74th minute and then a penalty with three minutes left to play.

Saracens now turn their attentions to their Premiership campaign which sees them host Bath next before a playoff semi-final at Allianz Park.

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Brad Barritt (Hodgson, 53), 11 David Strettle (Wyles, 44), 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, (de Kock, 50), 1 Mako Vunipola (Gill, 68), 2 Schalk Brits (Smit, 63), 3 Matt Stevens (Nieto, 68), 4 Steve Borthwick, 5 Alistair Hargreaves (Botha, 68), 6 Jackson Wray, 7 Kelly Brown, 8 Ernst Joubert (Kruis, 50)

Replacements: 16 John Smit, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Carlos Nieto, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 George Kruis, 21 Neil de Kock, 22 Charlie Hodgson, 23 Chris Wyles

Toulon: 15 Delon Armitage, 14 Rudi Wulf, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Alexis Palisson, 10 Jonny Wilkinson, 9 Sebastien Tillous-Borde, 8 Andrew Sheridan (Jenkins, 61), 7 Sebastien Bruno, 6 Carl Hayman, 5 Bakkies Botha, 4 Nick Kennedy, 3 Danie Rossouw (S. Armitage,65), 2 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, 1 Chris Masoe (Van Niekerk, 70)

Replacements: 16 Jean-Charles Orioli, 17 Gethin Jenkins, 18 Davit Kubriashivili, 19 Joe Van Niekerk, 20 Steffon Armitage, 21 Maxime Mermoz, 22 Nicolas Durand, 23 Jocelino Suta Referee: Alain Rolland

Attendance: 25,584