Planet Rugby

Harlequins shock Toulouse

18th December 2011 13:40

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Mike Brown celebrates Toulouse v Harlequins  Heineken Cup

Two tries: Mike Brown

Harlequins recorded the biggest upset of the Heineken Cup season so far with a 31-24 victory over four-time champions Toulouse in France on Sunday.

The visiting English side outscored their star-studded hosts three tries to two in a stunning display of grit and determination with full-back Mike Brown grabbing a brace.

It would be hard to argue that Quins were the stronger side on the day but, unlike the home side, they took every chance presented to them, counter-punching and hustling their way to victory against seemingly insurmountable odds.

A losing bonus point means that Toulouse retain the lead in Pool Six, just one point clear of Quins.

Against all expectations Harlequins held a 15-10 lead at half time thanks to tries from Brown and hooker Joe Gray.

Indeed the first 38 minutes were somewhat of a nightmare for Toulouse who, despite cutting the Quins defence apart as much as the pitch which was falling to pieces, were unable to get the scoreboard ticking as Luke McAlister missed three easy penalties in the first 20 minutes and Vincent Clerc had a try ruled out for a forward pass.

The pressure eventually told though as lock Yoann Maestri scored under the sticks just before half time.

But Toulouse's bad day at the office would continue in the second period as hooker William Servat twice crossed only to be denied by the TMO, who couldn't see the ball under the pile of bodies.

Meanwhile Nick Evans kept the scoreboard ticking and Brown went over for his second, forcing Toulouse to play high-risk catch-up rugby...and ultimately fall short.

The game started with former All Black pivots McAlister and Evans trading penalties. But it was the latter who stole the limelight by orchestrating the visitors' first try.

The Kiwi fly-half's neat little grubber through was superbly collected and grounded by Brown.

Evans was unable to add the extras, but it didn't matter much as McAlister was having an off day with the boot, leaving nine easy points by the wayside.

And Toulouse were made to pay when excellent hands sent Harlequins hooker Gray over after another probing kick from Evans.

In typical fashion Toulouse hit back as Maestri touched down after flank Jean Bouilhou picked the perfect line to ghost through the Quins defensive line.

The hosts continued to have most of the possession and territory in the second period, and were duly rewarded as scrum-half Jean-Marc Doussain added successive penalties to give Toulouse a four-point lead.

No sooner had the game re-started but Tom Williams stole possession from Clerc and the attack ended with Easter off-loading to Brown, who scampered through for his second try.

Evans added the conversion and a penalty before Nick Easter was sin-binned for Quins' repeated spoiling tactics at the breakdown.

Toulouse took advantage as Doussain went over in the corner.

However, he missed the crucial conversion and Evans slotted two further penalties to complete a remarkable victory.

The scorers:

For Toulouse:
Tries: Maestri, Doussain
Con: Doussain
Pens: McAlister, Doussain

For Harlequins:
Tries: Brown 2, Gray
Cons: Evans 2
Pens: Evans 4

Yellow card: Easter (Harlequins - 69th min - hands in the ruck)

Stade Toulousain: 15 Maxime Medard, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 Yann David, 12 Yannick Jauzion, 11 Timoci Matanavou, 10 Luke McAlister, 9 Jean-Marc Doussain, 8 Shaun Sowerby, 7 Thierry Dusautoir, 6 Jean Bouilhou, 5 Romain Millo-Chluski, 4 Yoann Maestri, 3 Census Johnston, 2 William Servat, 1 Yohan Montes.
Replacements: 16 Gary Botha, 17 Jean-Baptiste Poux, 18 Daan Human, 19 Grégory Lamboley, 20 Yannick Nyanga, 21 Louis Picamoles, 22 Luke Burgees, 23 Florian Fritz.

Harlequins:15 Mike Brown, 14 Seb Stegmann, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 Tom Casson, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Will Skinner, 6 Chris Robshaw (c), 5 George Robson, 4 Tomas Vallejos, 3 James Johnston, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Mark Lambert.
Replacements: 16 Chris Brooker, 17 Nic Mayhew, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Luke Wallace, 21 Richard Bolt, 22 Ben Urdapilleta, 23 Tom Williams

Venue:Stadium de Toulouse
Referee: Alain Rolland

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