Connacht conquer Toulouse again

Date published: October 15 2016

Connacht came from 11-21 down to produce a stunning 23-21 victory over Toulouse in the Champions Cup in Galway.

Niyi Adeolokun’'s first-half try counted for little as Toulouse went into half-time 21-11 up, with their tries coming from Yann David and Jean-Marc Doussain.

But second half efforts from Tiernan O’'Halloran and Bundee Aki turned the game around, and Connacht did enough to pick up a 23-21 Round 1 victory.

Pat Lam’'s men were looking to build on the bonus-point win over Ulster in their last outing, but couldn’t have come up against much tougher opposition in their first Champions Cup outing since the 2013/14 season.

A packed Sportsground saw Toulouse take an early lead, Sébastian Bezy slotting through the first penalty of the evening. He doubled the advantage three minutes later, again capitalising after Toulouse were given the advantage.

The first 40 was all-action, and Toulouse’'s quick start continued as captain Florian Fritz hammered another penalty through from half way. But despite the kicking success, it was Connacht who looked more likely to open the try scoring.

Originally held up just a couple of metres from the line, the hosts finally got themselves over courtesy of Adeolokun.

Aki made the initial burst forward, taking the hosts up to the Toulouse 22. Quick hands saw possession fed out to Adeolokun, who got over inside the right hand corner. Jack Carty’'s conversion flew wide of the posts, but he made up for that with two penalties which put his side a couple of points ahead.

But for all the good work of the hosts, they came undone as they conceded two tries in the final seven minutes of the half. After putting bodies deep into the 22, David found enough space to edge over in the corner, the conversion attempt from the touchline not having enough air time.

The hosts' defence was breached again two minutes later, as Doussain had the time to twist and turn his way under the posts, Bezy’s conversion making it a 10-point gap at the break.

Carty missed the first kick of the second 40, and Bezy followed in his footsteps by woefully hitting a straight forward effort wide, in what was an uneventful start.

But it ignited when O’'Halloran grabbed Connacht’'s second try. It was a team effort to help the full-back over, with the conversion attempt from Carty again missing the sticks.

The second 40 was all about Connacht, and they retook the lead with 14 to play courtesy of Aki. Play was brought back for a foul, and the ball found its way to the New Zealander, who swerved into enough space to ground and level. Craig Ronaldson converted from the touchline, and the remaining minutes were well seen out by Connacht.

The Sportsground crowd were being treated to a superb performance in the second half, and in truth Toulouse never looked like getting back into it as the home side dominated possession and territory as the clock wound down, eventually seeing the victory out safely.

The scorers:

For Connacht:
Tries: Adeolokun, O'Halloran, Aki
Con: Ronaldson
Pens: Carty 2

For Toulouse:
Tries: David, Doussain
Con: Bezy
Pens: Bezy 2, Fritz

Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Niyi Adeolokun, 13 Bundee Aki, 12 Craig Ronaldson, 11 Cian Kelleher, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Caolin Blade, 8 John Muldoon, 7 Jake Heenan, 6 Eoin McKeon, 5 Andrew Browne, 4 Quinn Roux, 3 Conor Carey, 2 David Heffernan, 1 Finlay Bealham
Replacements: 16 Shane Delahunt, 17 Ronan Loughney, 18 JP Cooney, 19 Ultan Dillane, 20 Sean O’Brien, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 Shane O’Leary, 23 Stacey Ili

Toulouse: 15 Maxime Médard, 14 Yoann Huget, 13 Florian Fritz, 12 Yann David, 11 Paul Perez, 10 Jean-Marc Doussain, 9 Sébastien Bézy, 8 Carl Axtens, 7 Piula Faasalele,  6 Francois Cros, 5 Joe Tekori, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Census Johnston, 2 Christopher Tolofua, 1 Cyril Baille
Replacements: 16 Julien Marchand, 17 Vasil Kakovin, 18 Dorian Aldegheri, 19 Edwin Maka, 20 Gregory Lamboley, 21 Talalelei Gray, 22 Toby Flood, 23 Gael Fickou

Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Assistant Referees: Matthew O’Grady (England), Jonathan Healy (England)
TMO: Stuart Terheege (England)