Toulouse had a comfortable 24-3 victory over a brave Connacht side at the Stade Ernest-Wallon this evening.
Two tries from winger Timoci Matanavou in either half helped secure the bonus point win helped by Maxime Medard and Louis Picamoles also crossing the whitewash, as replacement kicker Lionel Beauxis kicked two conversions to seal Connacht’s fate.
Niall O’Connor scored the game’s opening points neatly kicking a penalty after Toulouse had strayed off-side due to Connacht’s early pressure after four minutes.
The Irish province had established a good opening period which saw them take the game to the French giants who looked disinterested at times and were harried by their own supporters in the early stages.
But it was in the scrum that Toulouse soon found their rhythm as Connacht’s loose-head prop Dylan Rogers was totally outclassed by Gurthro Steenkamp. The Toulouse pack had too much power and guile and time and again caused serious problems for the away side.
Toulouse started to up the tempo of the game and scored the opening try after 20 minutes after Luke McAlister combined with Man of the Match Medard who split the Connacht defence with a grubber kick which allowed Matabavou to gather and easily score. McAlister failed with the conversion and he would finish the game with zero kicks from two attempts.
Connacht was not afraid of the French giants and produced some decent rugby in the first half. However their back play was too lateral and lacked the penetration needed to break the game line.
This allowed Toulouse to sit back and absorb whatever pressure came their way but also allowed them to change up a gear whenever it suited them which is exactly what they did for try number two.
It came on 35 minutes courtesy of the vision of McAlister who chipped a cross-field kick into the path of Medard who collected unopposed and made no mistake from five yards out. The Kiwi missed the conversion to leave only seven points between the teams at half-time.
Lionel Beauxis replaced Florian Fritz at the break and his introduction settled the Toulouse backline but it was their technically superior scrum that proved the catalyst for try number three.
Prop Census Johnston looked to have barged his way over but was held up on the line. The resulting five meter scrum was re-set numerous times before the ref was forced to award a free kick which Burgess took quickly to easily score.
Beauxis took over kicking detail and slotted the extras. There would now be an avalanche of Toulouse attacks to secure the bonus point try.
But Connacht didn’t wilt completely and thanks to Paul O’Donohoe, Tiernan O’Halloran and the towering Michael Swift caused Toulouse some problems as the half wore on.
But with a budget of 30 million at their disposal, replacements for Toulouse comprised of world-class stars compared to Connacht’s untested and inexperienced bench.
It was one of Connacht’s inexperienced replacement props that imploded on their own put in and Toulouse counter-attacked. A quick tap-free from Beauxis sent Matabavou over in the corner to seal the bonus point win.
Toulouse 24 – 3 Connacht
Niall O’ Connor (pen)
Timoci Matanavou (Try x 2)
Maxime Medard (Try)
Luke Burgess (Try)
Lionel Beauxis (Con x 2)
80 mins GAME OVER. A result nobody doubted from the start but Connacht can hold their heads high as the result is by no means a disgrace. Toulouse were nothing spectacular but they got the bonus point which was their objective today.
78 mins Connacht are doing their utmost to get a try here, it’s all them as they dominate possession but in truth Toulouse are letting them use the ball and are defending well.
72 mins Toulouse have the luxury of giving a debut to 18-year-old hooker Christopher Tolofua. Since the bonus point try Toulouse have taken their foot off the gas as Conncht do not look like scoring a try any time soon. But it’s not for their lack of trying that’s the problem as they empty their vastly inexperienced bench.
67 mins The Connacht scrum, on their own out-in, has just been destroyed and Toulosue break away and Toulouse score the bonus try through Matanavou’s second who crossed the line at a canter. Beauxis adds the extra.
64 mins Line out was crocked and a scrum to Toulouse is the outcome. They break up-field but are guilty of holding on a a scrum to Connacht on their own 22′
62 mins Connacht awarded a penalty as both sides ring the changes in this absorbing game. O’ Connor finds touch inside hosts 22′.
58 mins Connacht are holding their own though. Paul O’ Donahue and Tiernan O’ halloran are threatening the Toulouse back line when they can. but Connacht’s back play is too lateral. Toulouse are more than happy to stand back and absorb the pressure and hit on the counter.
54 mins Toulouse are launching wave after wave of attacks. The backline are cutting through Connacht defense for fun only a matter of time before bonus try is secured. Connacht players already looking tired.
52 mins Only a matter of time before somebody receives a yellow for constant scrum infringements. can’t understand why the ref doesn’t speak to the Connacht scrum or captain about it. Toulouse have too much power and class in this set-piece and will look to use it at every opportunity that arises.
47 mins Try for Luke Burgess. The ref gave a free kick from the scrum which was quickly taken by the scurm-half who waltzed in unopposed for an easy five points. Beauxis makes the conversion. Cricket score now?
45 mins Yet another scrum 5 meters out. could be a penalty try here, Connacht keep slowing the ball down but Toulouse are still dangerous.
42 mins Toulouse have come out of the blocks in the second half. Census Johnston was inches from the line and the ref says it was held up. Connacht should expect the tempo to be upped by the hosts. Dangerous scrum 5 meters out
40 mins Lionel Beauxis has come on for Florian Fritz.
SECOND HALF UNDER WAY
40 mins HALF-TIME. Only seven points down. Connacht started brightly and upset this partisan crowd but Toulouse have that world class quality that’ll make difference in the end.
40 mins O’ Connor delays his clearance kick but the referee allows Toulouse line out at half-way line.
39 mins A free kick for Connacht at a scrum. Toulouse were too early to the bind so hopefully this means half-time at only 10-3 down.
35 mins TRY for Medrad. A cross field kick from McAlsiter was easily caught and dispatched by the full-back. McAlister has missed another conversion. More difficult but he should have got that. Toulouse now in the driving seat.
34 mins What a man and ball tackle from Ofisa on McAlister. Toulouse driven back, Connacht on the counter but kick upfiled trickles out of touch. Great defensive work form the Irish province.
31 mins Good work form Connacht get the ball in Toulouse half. but they were off their feet at the ruck and McAlsiter thumps the ball down field again putting Connacht on the backfoot.
28 mins Dylan rogers is having a nightmare game. In danger of being carded. He can bind properly and Gurthro Steenkamp is taking him to town. Toulouse using the scrum to great effect. a line out to Connacht deep in their own 22′
26 mins The game is very open now. Connacht are in danger of letting the French score form anywhere. Ah Connacht could have had a try Dave McSharry setpped inside instead of keeping it wide and knocked it on. good game!
20 mins TRY for Toulouse. Winger Timoci Matanavou crosses over for an easy try. Luke McAlister set it up to Medard who kicked through for the winger to score. McAlister has missed the conversion. The Kiwi should have made that.
18 mins Once again the scrum being out classed by a world class Toulouse front five. All three penalties against Connacht have come from the scrum
16 mins Connacht continue to put the French giants under pressure. Line out on Toulouse 10 meter line.
15 mins The resulting penalty has been scored by O’ Connor. Connacht lead Toulouse!
14 mins IRB player of the year Thierry Dusatoir has just put Tiernan O’ Halloran on the deck with a late tackle and the Connacht players have reacted badly. There’s a bit of afters but no card for the Frenchman, he’s lucky.
11 mins superb passage of play form Connacht. They put the ball through hands and got well in Toulouse 22′. but a line out for the Irish men results in a free kick to Toulouse.
10 mins Another scrum sees Connacht under more pressure, another re-set scrum coming up.
8 mins Connacht under huge pressure in scrum and give away a penalty. Toulouse now have a line out
5 mins Scrum for Connacht in the Toulouse half.
4 mins He misses as it hits the posts inside Toulouse half. Early opportunity missed.
Penalty to Connacht and O’ connor opts for the posts.Toulouse are off side.
Connacht with the early possession and pressure but not troubling Toulouse.
We are underway here in Toulouse.
15 Maxime Medard, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 Yann David , 12 Florian Fritz, 11 Timoci Matanavou, 10 Luke McAlister, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Louis Picamoles , 7 Thierry Dusautoir, 6 Jean Bouilhou, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Yoann Maestri, 3 Census Johnston, 2 William Servat, 1 Gurthro Steenkamp.
Replacements:16 Christopher Tolofua, 17 Jean-Baptiste Poux, 18 Yohan Montes, 19 Grégory Lamboley, 20 Jean-Marc Doussain, 21 Lionel Beauxis, 22 Clément Poitrenaud, 23 Shaun Sowerby.
15 Gavin Duffy (C) 14 Fetu’u Vainikolo 13 Kyle Tonetti 12 Dave McSharry 11 Tiernan O’Halloran 10 Niall O’Connor 09 Paul O’Donohoe
01 Brett Wilkinson 02 Adrian Flavin 03 Dylan Rogers 04 Michael Swift 05 Mike McCarthy 06 John Muldoon 07 Ray Ofisa 08 George Naoupu
Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke17 Denis Buckley18 Stewart Maguire19 Mick Kearney20 Eoin McKeon21 Dave Moore22 Miah Nikora23 Henry Fa’afili
As the Pool stages of the 2011/12 Heineken Cup and the Amlin Challenge Cup reach a climax this weekend and next with Round 5 and Round 6 matches in both tournaments, coveted quarter-final places are on the line.
Given that calculators will be in hand at many grounds over the coming days, here is a reminder of the quarter-final qualification process for the Heineken Cup and the Amlin Challenge Cup.
HEINEKEN CUP QUALIFICATION
(i)The Pool winner will be the Club with the highest number of match points earned in each Pool. The runners-up will be the two second placed clubs from all six Pools with the next highest number of points. For the quarter-finals, the Pool winners will be ranked 1 to 6 in terms of the number of points earned. The runners-up will be ranked 7 and 8.
Clubs in the same pool
(ii) if two or more clubs are equal on points and the clubs are in the same Pool, then qualification / ranking will be based on the matches played between the clubs concerned:
(a) the club which has earned the most number of match points from the matches
(b) the club which has scored the most tries in the matches
(c) the club with the best aggregate points difference from the matches
Clubs from different pools
(iii) if still unresolved, or the clubs have not played each other previously in the Pool stage, qualification / ranking will be based on:
(a) the number of tries scored in all Pool matches
(b) aggregate points difference from all Pool matches
(c) the club with the fewest number of players sent off and / or suspended in all Pool matches
(d) toss of a coin
Clubs ranked 1-4 will have home advantage. The quarter-finals will be:
Club 1 v Club 8; Club 2 v Club 7; Club 3 v Club 6; Club 4 v Club 5
Quarter-finals – 6/7/8 April
Semi-finals – 27/28/29 April
Final – Twickenham Stadium, Saturday 19 May (5.00)
AMLIN CHALLENGE CUP
The five Pool winners will qualify for the quarter-finals and will be the clubs with the highest number of match points earned in each Pool. For the quarter-finals, the Pool winners will be ranked 1 to 4 and 8 in terms of the number of points earned.
(i) the Pool winner will be the club with the highest number of match points earned in each Pool.
(ii) where two or more Amlin Challenge Cup Pool winners are level on match points then ranking will be based on:
(a) the number of tries scored in all Pool matches.
(b) aggregate points difference from all Pool matches.
(c) the club with the fewest number of players sent off and / or suspended in all Pool matches.
(d) toss of a coin.
The three next best Heineken Cup runners-up (the third, fourth and fifth best) will qualify for the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals. The top four Amlin Challenge Cup Pool winners will have home advantage with the quarter-finalists ranked accordingly:
1 ACC 1 (Top ranked ACC Pool winner)
2 ACC 2 (Second ranked ACC Pool winner)
3 ACC 3 (Third ranked ACC Pool winner)
4 ACC 4 (Fourth ranked ACC Pool winner)
5 Heineken Cup 1
6 Heineken Cup 2
7 Heineken Cup 3
8 ACC 5 (Fifth ranked ACC Pool winner)
The quarter-final pairings will be:
Club 1 v Club 8; Club 2 v Club 7; Club 3 v Club 6; Club 4 v Club 5
Quarter-finals – 5/6/7/8 April
Semi-finals – 27/28/29 April
Final – Twickenham Stoop, Friday, 18 May (8.00)