Planet Rugby

Toulouse get home in Sale

24th January 2010 16:56

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Mark Cueto

Red Light: Toulouse get to grips with Mark Cueto

Toulouse will play their Heineken Cup quarter-final at home after they clinched a gritty 19-13 over Sale Sharks at Edgeley Park on Sunday.

The result confirms the full line-up for the Heineken Cup quarter-finals:

Munster v Northampton Saints
Biarritz Olympique v Ospreys
Toulouse v Stade Français
Leinster v Clermont

Harlequins' heavy loss to Cardiff Blues in Sunday afternoon's other tie means that the Sharks also miss out on an Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final place.

This is how the draw for Europe's second-tier tournament looks with the inclusion of the Heineken Cup sides:

Connacht v Bourgoin
Toulon v Scarlets
London Wasps v Gloucester
Newcastle Falcons v Cardiff Blues

Toulouse's victory in Sale gives the French side a home quarter-final in the Heineken Cup and they were good value for the win despite having to hold off a late Sharks fightback.

The scores were tied at 6-6 at the break as fly-half Charlie Hodgson knocked over two penalties for the hosts, with opposite number Jean-Baptiste Elissalde kicking two drop goals for the visitors.

But hooker Virgile Lacombe went over for Guy Noves's side with Elissalde adding the conversion and two penalties, while Mathew Tait scored a converted try for Sale.

Sale were without injured Wales scrum-half Dwayne Peel so Richard Wigglesworth was handed the number nine jersey. Hooker Mahonri Schwalger, lock Chris Jones and flanker Luke Abraham were part of a reshuffled pack.

The visitors, who had already sealed top spot in Pool Five, picked a strong side as they looked to secure that home draw in the last eight.

Frederic Michalak came in for Byron Kelleher at scrum-half while Louis Picamoles and Gregory Lamboley replaced Shaun Sowerby and Jean Bouilhou in the back row.

The home side made a blistering start as number eight Sisa Koyamaibole made a slashing break that was only stopped by a despairing Vincent Clerc tackle.

Jones then stole the first Toulouse line-out forcing the French side to give away a penalty that Hodgson converted from in front of the posts.

Michalak wasted Toulouse's opening attacking foray with a missed drop-goal before Sale's excellent start was dented by a moment of madness from Koyamaibole.

The Fijian needlessly flattened Michalak off the ball in front of referee Alain Rolland, who had no hesitation in sending the back-rower to the sin bin after just 10 minutes of play.

The visitors profited from the resulting penalty and field position as fly-half Elissalde knocked over a sweetly-struck drop goal to tie the scores.

But Sale coped admirably during Koyamaibole's absence and Hodgson re-established their lead with his second penalty in the 19th minute.

Elissalde then attempted a woeful drop at goal but the French side were gaining a stranglehold on territory and possession, with captain Thierry Dusautoir to the fore, and it took some desperate defence from the Sharks to prevent a score after centre Yann David had slipped a tackle and fed wing Clerc close to the line.

The hosts found themselves unable to lift the siege and their discipline began to suffer under sustained pressure.

Referee Rolland eventually lost patience and lock Jones became the second Shark to receive a yellow card after he offended at a ruck.

Toulouse chose to kick the penalty to touch but Elissalde ensured they left the Sale 22 with points as he knocked over his second drop goal just seconds before half-time.

The second half began with Toulouse on the attack and this time the pressure told as some poor Sale defence at a driving lineout allowed hooker Lacombe to break free and dive over, Elissalde adding the conversion for a 13-6 lead.

The visitors almost crossed again seconds later as full-back Clement Poitrenaud sparked a marvellous counter attack that ended with Clerc being bundled into touch just short of the Sale line.

But Clerc was soon off the field after he checked Wigglesworth as the England international chased his own kick-ahead, the France wing heading to the sin bin as Jones returned to the fray for the hosts.

The hosts looked ill-equipped to chase the game and an ill-advised attempt to attack from the shadow of their own posts ended in them conceding a penalty which Elissalde easily slotted over in the 53rd minute.

But after battering away at the Toulouse defence Sale finally found a way through thanks to a fine individual score from centre Tait.

The England three-quarter made a superb outside break as he spotted forwards in front of him in the defensive line, and showed good strength to step inside the cover defence and reach over. Hodgson added the extras to close the deficit to three points and set up a frenetic finale.

Elissalde kicked his second penalty to stretch the visitors' lead.

Sale had one last chance to snatch victory, but they lost an attacking lineout five metres out and the opportunity was gone.

The scorers:

For Sale Sharks:
Try: Tait
Con: Hodgson
Pens: Hodgson 2

For Toulouse:
Try: Lacombe
Cons: Elissalde 2
Pens: Elissalde 2
Drop: Elissalde

Yellow card(s): Koyamaibole (Sale Sharks) - illegal clearing, 8; Jones (Sale Sharks) - offside at the ruck, 37; Clerc (Toulouse) - dangerous tackle, 47.

The teams:

Sale Sharks: 15 Nick Macleod, 14 Mark Cueto, 13 Mathew Tait, 12 Johnny Kennedy, 11 David Doherty, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Sisa Koyamaibole, 7 Luke Abraham, 6 James Gaskell, 5 Dean Schofield, 4 Chris Jones, 3 Martin Halsall, 2 Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Eifion Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Rob O'Donnell, 18 Gavin Kerr, 19 Sean Cox, 20 Carl Fearns, 21 Chris Leck, 22 Andy Tuilagi, 23 Oriol Ripol.

Toulouse: 15 Clément Poitrenaud, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 Yann David , 12 Yannick Jauzion, 11 Cédric Heymans, 10 Jean-Baptiste Elissalde, 9 Frédéric Michalak, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Thierry Dusautoir (capt), 6 Grégory Lamboley, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Yoann Maestri, 3 Benoit Lecouls, 2 Virgile Lacombe, 1 Jean-Baptiste Poux.
Replacements: 16 William Servat, 17 Yohan Montes, 18 Daan Human, 19 Shaun Sowerby, 20 Jean Bouilhou, 21 Maxime Medard, 22 Byron Kelleher, 23 Florian Fritz.

Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Simon McDowell (Ireland), Mark Hermin (Ireland)
Television match official: Marshall Kilgore (Ireland)

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