Planet Rugby

Toulouse cruise back into form

22nd August 2014 21:24

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Imanol Harinordoquy Toulouse v Castres 2014

Looking good: Harinordoquy made a big impact for Toulouse

Under-pressure Toulouse turned it on to comfortably see off Castres 35-6 at Ernest Wallon and move top of the Top 14.

After a scrappy success against Oyonnax last week, Toulouse were much improved, both in the set-piece and in general play, running in four tries to pick up a bonus-point win.

Gael Fickou, looking back to his best, Jean-Marc Doussain, Maxime Medard and Sebastien Bezy all crossed, and despite the second-half sending off of youngster Thomas Ramos, it was a comfortable win for Guy Novès' side.

Early on Toulouse got the edge in the first scrum, earning a penalty, and having kicked into Castres territory, they got a shot at three points due to an offside, Toby Flood making no mistake.

Castres responded with a Rory Kockott penalty after Medard failed to roll away to level things.

The response was immediate from Toulouse, with Imanol Harinordoquy producing a powerful tackle on Yannick Caballero which forced the visitors to come in from the side to secure the ball. However Flood's penalty was pulled wide.

And it was a similar story a couple of minutes later as a second shot at goal drifted left. Kockott wasn't having an easy time of it either, missing a second long-range penalty of the evening.

With Flood struggling from the kicking tee, Toulouse needed to find some points from elsewhere, and it came from a moment of magic from Fickou.

The young centre brushed off a tackle from Max Evans to make an initial break, feeding Yoann Huget outside him, before getting the ball back from his international teammate to go under the posts. This time Flood made no mistake to make the score 10-3.

Castres came straight back, initially struggling to break through but eventually earning three points after a high tackle from Harinordoquy, Kockott splitting the uprights.

The game was going back and forth, and Toulouse could have extended their lead when they earned a scrum five metres from the Castres line after the visitors failed to claim the restart.

However Gilian Galan's charge from the back of the scrum was stopped, and a knock-on at the next ruck ended the attack.

Toulouse thought they had scored five minutes from time when a great move off the back of a lineout saw Clement Poitrenaud kick through and Huget dot down, but the action was called back for a debatable knock-on by the Toulouse full-back.

The home side arguably deserved to be further ahead, having looked much the more threatening, and on the stroke of half-time they earned a straightforward penalty which Flood converted to make it 13-6 at the break.

It was the home side who made the quicker start to the second half, showing ambition to score a second try of the night, through Doussain.

A great turn-over from Harinordoquy got them the ball back just inside their own half, and Florian Fritz's clever kick allowed Medard to force Geoffrey Palis into touch. The lineout was taken quickly and Doussain was on hand to race over after quick hands from Medard and Fickou.

The momentum was clearly on the side of Toulouse, and they showed their clinical side with a third try two minutes later.

After piling on the pressure in the Castres 22, Doussain spotted Medard free on the left wing and produced a delightful cross-kick which dropped into his winger's hands. Flood missed the wide conversion but Toulouse led 25-6 with half an hour remaining.

It was a much improved display from Novès' side and they were also having the better of the scrum battle, with another penalty in Castres territory allowing Flood to extend the lead with three more points.

Castres tried to fight back, and put the pressure on the home side, but too often the final pass went to ground.

They were then given a boost with 15 minutes remaining however as young full-back Ramos was sent off for Toulouse after kicking out at Mihaita Lazar, who was given a yellow card for holding the youngster in a ruck.

Castres thought they had finally scored their first try of the evening shortly after when Johnnie Beattie cruised over from the back of a scrum, but after consultation with the TMO it became clear that the gap had opened up because Ibrahim Diarra was holding Gregory Lamboley in the scrum.

And it was the visitors who found themselves a man down a few minutes later when Kockott was sin-binned after a series of infringements deep in the Castres 22 as Fickou again wreaked havoc.

With Kockott off, Toulouse took full advantage, through replacement Bezy. The youngster spotted a gap in the close ruck defence to dart over for the fourth try with four minutes remaining.

The scorers:

For Toulouse:
Tries: Fickou, Doussain, Medard, Bezy
Cons: Flood 3
Pens: Flood 3
Red card: Ramos

For Castres:
Pens: Kockott 2
Yellow cards: Lazar, Kockott

Toulouse: 15 Clement Poitrenaud, 14 Yoann Huget, 13 Florian Fritz, 12 Gael Fickou, 11 Maxime Medard, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Jean-Marc Doussain, 8 Gillian Galan, 7 Imanol Harinordoquy, 6 Yannick Nyanga, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Romain Millo-Chluski, 3 Census Johnston, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Vasil Kakovin.
Replacements: 16 Christopher Tolofua, 17 Kisi Pulu, 18 Iosefa Tekori, 19 Gregory Lamboley, 20 Sebastien Bezy, 21 Yann David, 22 Thomas Ramos, 23 Neemia Tialata.

Castres: 15 Geoffrey Palis, 14 Max Evans, 13 Remi Lamerat, 12 Romain Cabannes, 11 Romain Martial, 10 Remi Tales (c), 9 Rory Kockott, 8 John Beattie, 7 Yannick Caballero, 6 Jannie Bornman, 5 Christophe Samson, 4 Piula Faaselele, 3 Paea Fa'anunu, 2 Brice Mach, 1 Saimone Taumoepeau.
Replacements: 16 Marc-Antoine Rallier, 17 Mihaita Lazar, 18 Victor Moreaux, 19 Ibrahim Diarra, 20 Cedric Garcia, 21 Daniel Kirkpatrick, 22 Julien Dumora, 23 Yohan Montes.

Referee: Pascal Gauzère
Assistant referees: Tual Trainini, Jacques De Lemos

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