Toulouse outlast resurgent Connacht

Date published: January 22 2017

Toulouse held on to a narrow lead to book their place in the quarter finals of the Champions Cup, defeating Connacht 19-10.

The French side took an early lead with two tries and held their own from that point on as Connacht were made to pay for their sluggish start. Visitors Connacht never truly looked capable of getting something from the match, but spent the dying embers looking for points to put on the board and gain a losing bonus point which would have seen them through. 

Toulouse took early initiative and with five minutes on the clock had the lead as Gael Fickou went over from close range in the left corner of the pitch before Jean-Marc Doussain added the extras. 

The hosts had a second try not long after as Arthur Bonneval evaded a desperate challenge to go over after a great break from Yoann Huget. 

Just before the break, Craig Ronaldson put the visitors on the scoreboard with a well taken penalty but the Irish province knew they needed much more from the second half if they were to progress. 

Toulouse started the second half just as they did the first, with much more attacking intent than their opponents and they got their reward when Iosefa Tekori went over after multiple attempts from his teammates to do the same. 

Just as the game looked to be over, Connacht scored their first try, and it came courtesy of John Muldoon from the scrum. Ronaldson added the extras and it was game on. 

Connacht now knew that a losing bonus point would see them through to the next stage of the competition, but they were struggling to break down a Toulouse side who on the day had been head and shoulders above their opponents. 

The Irish side's best chances came in the final few minutes, but they were conceding sloppy mistakes and penalties, disrupting their flow as desperation crept into a match from which they got nothing.

The scorers:

For Toulouse:
: Fickou, Bonneval, Tekori
Cons: Doussain 2

For Connacht:
Cons: Ronaldson
Pens: Ronaldson

Toulouse: 15 Yoann Huget, 14 Arthur Bonneval, 13 Yann David, 12 Gael Fickou, 11 Paul Perez, 10 Jean-Marc Doussain, 9 Sébastien Bézy, 8 Francois Cros, 7 Thierry Dusautoir, 6 Joe Tekori, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Census Johnston, 2 Christopher Tolofua, 1 Cyril Baille
Replacments: 16 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 17 Vasil Kakovin, 18 Gurthro Steenkamp, 19 Talalelei Gray, 20 Piula Faasalele, 21 Gillian Galan, 22 Toby Flood, 23 Alexis Palisson

Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Niyi Adeolokun, 13 Peter Robb, 12 Craig Ronaldson, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 John Muldoon (c), 7 Jake Heenan, 6 Nepia Fox-Matamua, 5 James Cannon, 4 Quinn Roux, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Denis Buckley
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 JP Cooney, 18 John Andress, 19 Sean O’Brien, 20 Naulia Dawai, 21 John Cooney, 22 Tom Farrell, 23 Danie Poolman

Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant Referees: JP Doyle (England), Peter Allan (England)
TMO: David Grashoff (England)