Planet Rugby

Toulouse come up slightly short

17th October 2008 21:44

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In a Pool which could easily be decided on bonus points, Toulouse may yet rue the night they came to Glasgow and spent half a fruitless hour chasing a fourth try, in their 22-16 Heineken Cup win at Firhill on Friday.

After Glasgow had spent the first half putting a serious spanner in the works, Toulouse's big red machine got going in the second half, but despite ten late minutes of heavy pressure they couldn't find the crucial score.

Still, after half an hour, had you turned to a Toulousain and said they'd be in that position, they'd have laughed so hard in your face it would have hurt.

Glasgow tore into their opponents, knowing that defeat would probably spell the end of their Heineken Cup and possibly with the memory of last season's famous conquest of Biarritz in their minds as encouragement.

For the first five minutes Toulouse barely touched the ball, and John Barclay's surge to near the line yielded a penalty for Dan Parks to give his side the lead.

Penalties were a feature of Toulouse's first quarter of an hour; they conceded four to Glasgow's none, three of them for failing to roll away from the tackle. It was reminiscent of Biarritz at Gloucester last week, and referee Alan Lewis was unforgiving.

Parks missed the second penalty - an awful miss - but nailed the fourth (which was for a collapsed scrum; Salvatore Perugini really struggled early on) for a thoroughly deserved 6-0 lead.

The damage to Toulouse could have been so much worse moments later. Lome Fa'atau's grubber through was mis-fielded by Maxime Medard, and Thom Evans pounced on the loose ball only for Medard's desperate covering tackle to dislodge the ball from Evans' grasp.

Medard had a nightmare first half, dropping a scoring pass on Toulouse's first real attack of the game after 24 minutes. But his dropped pass bizarrely led to a try.

Toulouse won the scrum against the head, and Shaun Sowerby flipped the ball out to Skrela, who swerved in and out to go under the posts and make the score 6-7, converting his own try.

Another penalty for that old biscuit of not rolling away gave Glasgow the lead back from Parks' boot, and so it stayed until the break, with Medard helping it remain so by dropping an even easier scoring pass with the corner at his mercy.

It all changed after the break. Slick Toulouse hands took them into the Glasgow 22 where Maleli Kunavore dropped a goal to give the French the lead.

Then a minute later Medard - whose improvement from sloppy to sensational at the half-time break was symptomatic of his team's turnaround - made a clean break off a pass from Kunavore that was a good two yards forward. He switched with Patricio Albacete, who lobbed inside to Byron Kelleher, and the Kiwi scrum-half just had the legs to get home.

Medard nearly latched onto the end of his own grubber kick for a third, and then Jauzion scored a terrific try under the posts, with Clement Poitrenaud spying a gap and chipping into it for the centre to gather and swerve home past Fa'atau's excuse for a tackle. Skrela's conversion made it 22-9 - 15 points in 13 minutes had the result pretty much wrapped up.

Toulouse had the better of the game from then on, but just couldn't find the extra yard when it was needed. The weather didn't help, with rain pelting down harder and harder as time ticked on, but once again there were too few red shirts at rucks, and Glasgow were able to spoil.

For their part, the Scots laboured hard. Dan Parks kicked very well from all angles, Thom Evans was dangerous every time he got near the ball, and the back row did all sorts of good work at the breakdown.

Right at the end, justice was served. The ball was hacked through, squirted out of three sets of Toulouse hands, and Fa'atau hacked through and dived on it to score.

Parks' conversion gave his side the bonus point, and set up a breathless finale as the Scots went in search of an unlikely win, but the focus now will be on Toulouse's dearth of tries. Will it cause a problem in the final reckoning?

Man of the match: Dan Parks, Thom Evans, Graeme Morrison, John Barclay, Johnnie Beattie, Kevin Tkatchuk and Moray Low all did well for Glasgow, with Salvatore Perugini (in the end), Patricio Albacete, Byron Kelleher, Yannick Jauzion and Clement Poitrenaud returning for Toulouse. But a step ahead of them all was Toulouse number eight Shaun Sowerby, who tackled, ran, covered, and kicked for touch (!) superbly.

The scorers:

For Glasgow:

Try: Fa'atau

Con: Parks

Pens: Parks 3

For Toulouse:

Tries: Skrela, Kelleher, Jauzion

Cons: Skrela 2

Drop goal: Kunavore

Glasgow: 15 Bernardo Stortoni, 14 Lome Fa'atau, 13 Max Evans, 12 Graeme Morrison, 11 Thom Evans, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Mark McMillan, 8 Johnnie Beattie, 7 John Barclay, 6 Richie Vernon, 5 Alastair Kellock (c), 4 Dan Turner, 3 Ed Kalman, 2 Dougie Hall, 1 Kevin Tkachuk.

Replacements: 16 Pat MacArthur, 17 Moray Low, 18 Tim Barker, 19 Kelly Brown, 20 Ruaridh Jackson, 21 Colin Gregor, 22 Andrew Henderson

Toulouse: 15 Clément Poitrenaud, 14 Manu Ahotaeiloa, 13 Florian Fritz, 12 Yannick Jauzion, 11 Maxime Medard, 10 David Skrela, 9 Byron Kelleher, 8 Shaun Sowerby, 7 Thierry Dusautoir, 6 Yannick Nyanga, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Fabien Pelous, 3 Salvatore Perugini, 2 William Servat, 1 Daan Human.

Replacements: 16 Alberto Vernet Basualdo, 17 Jean-Baptiste Poux, 18 Romain Millo-Chluski, 19 Jean Bouilhou, 20 Jean-Baptiste Elissalde, 21 Cédric Heymans, 22 Maleli Kunavore.

Referee: Alan Lewis (Ireland)

Touch judges: Simon McDowell (Ireland), Alan Rogan (Ireland)

Television match official: Olan Trevor (Ireland)

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