Toulouse continue winning Champions Cup start

Date published: December 8 2018

Toulouse secured their third consecutive triumph in this season’s Champions Cup following an impressive 24-16 victory over Wasps at the Ricoh Arena.

It was a topsy-turvy first-half but it was the English team that eventually went into the interval in front through Will Rowlands’ try and penalties from Lima Sopoaga and Elliot Daly.

Les Rouge et Noir had opened a five-point buffer via Cheslin Kolbe’s brilliant individual score and a brace of Thomas Ramos three-pointers, but they had work to do in the second period.

However, they increased the intensity and Ramos added a third penalty before Sofiane Guitoune crossed the whitewash to make it an eight-point game.

Daly and Ramos then traded three-pointers but the visitors were too good as they continued their excellent campaign and effectively ended Wasps’ hopes.

Ugo Mola’s men have enjoyed a fine season in both Europe and the Top 14 and, although they were put under pressure early on by the English outfit, the four-time champions had too much quality for the Premiership team. Nathan Hughes was especially prominent in the initial stages and his dominant carries earned a penalty which Sopoaga converted for a 3-0 advantage.

Despite that slow start, the Frenchmen began to find their rhythm and in Kolbe they have one of the most devastating runners in Europe. The South African once again came to the fore and created a try from nothing after bouncing off Craig Hampson’s and Sopoaga’s attempted tackles to score.

It was a stunning effort and symptomatic of a player who is in the form of his life. However, the back three player could not prevent the hosts from going back in front when the forwards infringed at the set-piece, allowing Daly to kick a long range three-pointer.

Ramos restored Toulouse’s two-point buffer before the full-back extended their lead with another successful effort off the tee.

Les Rouge et Noir were in control of the game but they were soon dealt a blow as Maks van Dyk was sin-binned for a high tackle.

With their opponents down to 14 men, Wasps went on the offensive and the pressure eventually yielded a try for Rowlands, who finished well by the left-hand upright.

Toulouse were evidently frustrated having created several chances in the first-half, but they channelled that in the right way and Ramos kicked them back in front.

They were also causing problems for the hosts by varying their set-piece moves and one such passage of play saw Guitoune repeat Kolbe’s effort from earlier by powering through a couple of tackles and touching down.

Daly’s three-pointer and a yellow card for Louis-Benoit Madaule did give Dai Young’s men hope going into the latter stages, but Ramos’ fourth penalty and his team-mates’ excellent defence confirmed the win.

The scorers:

For Wasps:
Try: Rowlands
Con: Sopoaga
Pens: Sopoaga, Daly 2

For Toulouse:
Tries: Kolbe, Guitoune
Con: Ramos
Pens: Ramos 4
Yellow Cards: Van Dyk, Madaule

Wasps: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Ross Neal, 13 Elliot Daly (c), 12 Michael Le Bourgeois, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Craig Hampson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Will Rowlands, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Tom Cruse, 1 Ben Harris
Replacements: 16 Ashley Johnson, 17 Zurabi Zhvania, 18 Will Stuart, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Will Porter, 22 Billy Searle, 23 Juan de Jongh

Toulouse: 15 Thomas Ramos, 14 Yoann Huget, 13 Sofiane Guitoune, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 Cheslin Kolbe, 10 Zack Holmes, 9 Antoine Dupont, 8 Jerome Kaino, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Francois Cros, 5 Joe Tekori, 4 Carl Axtens, 3 Maks Van Dyk, 2 Julien Marchand (c), 1 Lucas Pointud
Replacements: 16 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 17 Clément Castets, 18 Dorian Aldegheri, 19 Gillian Galan, 20 Louis Madaule, 21 Sébastien Bézy, 22 Romain Ntamack, 23 Arthur Bonneval

Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Nigel Correll (Ireland), Barrie O’Connell (Ireland)
TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland)