Planet Rugby

Toulouse survive Murrayfield scare

10th November 2007 17:09

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Toulouse got their campaign for this year's Heineken Cup off to a winning start, but they left Murrayfield rattled after Edinburgh pulled back from 16-3 down to trail by only one point with ten minutes remaining.

Toulouse played in an unusual strip. Their jersey was mainly a faded shade of pink with bits which may have been black but looked faded. Their shorts were a faded shade of black, their socks a faded shade of grey that not all the team chose to display. In keeping with their dress, Toulouse played like faded champions, the glory and elan of their past washed out.

Edinburgh brought much more to this match than Toulouse did. They were a young and inexperienced side after the diaspora they have suffered, but they tackled with determination and ended running with far greater confidence and creativity than the French maestros. They also played in black. Edinburgh looked more like Toulouse than Toulouse did.

In the end the boot won for Toulouse. They goaled all their kicks while Edinburgh missed two penalty kicks at goal and a comfortable conversion. That was the difference between winning and losing. Oh, but Toulouse did miss two drop goal attempts by Gaffie du Toit, neither of which was close.

Toulouse had the better of territory, even in the second half when they were into the wind. This may have saved them from penalty goals against them as they lost the penalty count 9-5 and suffered the indignity of having Jean-Baptiste Elissalde sent to the sin bin as the team infringed repeatedly. They were also warned about illegal scrummaging. They were penalised three times in the scrums, which was something of a surprise as they have a sturdy front row, while Edinburgh have Gavin Kerr who is often penalised at scrum time. The Edinburgh scrums were a mess in the first half - 7 scrums, 6 resets, 5 collapses, 3 penalties and a free kick. That does not make for enthralling watching.

There was not much for the spectators in the bits and pieces of rugby that happened in the first half, and the hollow halls of a mainly empty Murrayfield echoed hardly a cry.

Ben Gissing and Alistair Hogg were penalised and Elissalde goaled to put Toulouse into a 6-0 lead after 16 minutes during which only an early burst of Toulouse passing alleviated the grey gloom of the match.

David Blair missed a penalty but then goaled one the first time Yohan Montes was penalised at a scrum. 6-3 after 21 minutes. Simon Cross was penalised at a tackle and again Elissalde goaled. 9-3 after 25 minutes. That was the half-time score. That was the sum total of the first-half action too.

Suddenly in the second half there was a burst of Toulouse rugby. On the half-way line Du Toit went on the loop and took a pass from Yannick Jauzion and then sped down the right touch-line. He played inside to young Maxime Medard who was just able to keep Andrew Maxwell at arm's length as he scored a magnificent try close in. 16-3 after 45 minutes. Toulouse only scored again late in an otherwise sterile half for them.

In this half Edinburgh were the enterprising ones. They ran out of defence. They tapped penalties and set off. They had fast-moving mauls. They took the yellow-card penalty against Elissalde and made a five-metre line-out. They attacked again and again, as Toulouse stood firm until suddenly the ball came loose and Edinburgh were forced to go left, where young Nick De Luca handed off Jauzion to score a splendid try. David Blair missed the conversion. 16-8 after 56 minutes.

Again Edinburgh attacked and their confidence in their handling grew. Again they went left and this time it was replacement wing John Houston who came on a perfect line leaving Clément Poitrenaud groping, gliding past Jauzion for a 25-metre run to the line. Phil Godman, on for David Blair, converted, 16-15 with 12 minutes to play.

Toulouse had a brief attempt at running when Malelei Kunavore strode ahead and Du Toit missed two drop-goal attempts.

Then Edinburgh were penalised for an air tackle at a line-out. Craig Hamilton may have been the man penalised but he seemed to have little effect on Patricio Albacete's plunge to the ground; that seemed the fault more of the Toulouse support. Elissalde made the score 19-15 with five minutes to play.

Edinburgh carried on passing and attacking but Toulouse had little difficulty coping.

Edinburgh ended the match with a bonus point, which was fitting for the side which had scored two tries to one.

Man of the Match: Mike Blair. He was brilliant.

The scorers:

For Edinburgh:

Tries: De Luca, Houston

Con: Godman

Pen: Blair

For Toulouse:

Try: Medard

Con: Elissalde

Pens: Elissalde 4

Yellow card: Elissalde (57, Toulouse, killing the ball)

Edinburgh: 15 Hugo Southwell, 14 Andrew Turnbull, 13 Ben Cairns, 12 Nick De Luca, 11 Andrew Maxwell, 10 David Blair, 9 Mike Blair, 8 Simon Cross, 7 Ross Rennie, 6 Allister Hogg (c), 5 Ben Gissing, 4 Craig Hamilton, 3 Gavin Kerr, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Allan Jacobsen.

Replacements: 16 Andrew Kelly, 17 Augusto Allori, 18 Matt Mustchin, 19 David Callam, 20 Ben Meyer, 21 Phil Godman, 22 John Houston.

Toulouse: 15 Clément Poitrenaud, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 Yannick Jauzion (c), 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 Maxime Medard, 10 Gaffie du Toit, 9 Jean-Baptiste Elissalde, 8 Finau Maka, 7 Thierry Dusatoir, 6 Yannick Nyanga, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Grégory Lamboley, 3 Yohan Montes, 2 William Servat, 1 Salvatore Perugini.

Replacements: 16 Alberto Vernet Basualdo, 17 Jean-Baptiste Poux, 18 Romain Millo-Chlusky, 19 Jean Bouilhou, 20 Valentin Courrent, 21 Maleli Kunavore, 22 Shaun Sowerby.

Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)

Touch judges: David Keane (Ireland), Ger English (Ireland)

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