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As it happened: Toulouse v Connacht, Champions Cup pool finale

Pat Lam’s went looking for their first ever Champions Cup knock-out spot.

  • Toulouse G. Fickou 5', A. Bonneval 17', I. Tekori 46'
    19
  • Connacht J. Muldoon 53'
    10
Image : James Crombie/INPHO
53,335 Views 13 Comments

Bonjour! Welcome to the very last set of Champions Cup pool fixtures this season.

Connacht are in Toulouse chasing a win, but they’ll also be well aware that a losing bonus point or two could keep them ahead of the old kings of Europe in this late lunge for the quarter-finals.

Kick-off isn’t until 15.15, so there is still plenty of time to get yourself a comfortable seat you can sit on the edge of.

The Connacht team practice their lineouts in Charles de Gaulle Square Source: Tommy Grealy/INPHO

As things stand, Connacht sit top of pool 2 and so are the tournament’s fifth seed (behind Clermont, Munster, Saracens and Leinster). But we expect Wasps to slaughter Zebre in the other pool game today and take over that slot.

Mathematically, Connacht can still take a home quarter by ousting Leinster with a 62-point winning margin over Toulouse. But we don’t expect that to happen.

ccup

Simply put, Lam’s men will qualify if Toulouse don’t make up the full four-point gap that currently separates the sides.

That could be achieved by winning, drawing, losing with two bonus points or losing with one bonus point while preventing Toulouse from claiming a try-scoring bonus.

Don’t worry, all will become clear by full-time.

Here are the teams for today’s match.

Toulouse:

15. Yoann Huget
14. Arthur Bonneval
13. Yann David
12. Gael Fickou
11. Paul Perez
10. Jean-Marc Doussain
9. Sébastien Bézy

1. Cyril Baille
2. Christopher Tolofua
3. Census Johnston
4. Richie Gray
5. Yoann Maestri
6. Joe Tekori
7. Thierry Dusautoir (captain)
8. François Cros

Replacements: 

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

1. Denis Buckley
2. Tom McCartney
3. Finlay Bealham
4. Quinn Roux
5. James Cannon
6. Nepia Fox-Matamua
7. Jake Heenan
8. John Muldoon (captain)

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 [RFU].

KICK-OFF!  Carty kicks off in the rain and Connacht’s line speed is good to pin the white shirts on their 22.  

Exceptionally good start for Toulouse with ball in hand. They rumbled in their own third, but then Bezy and Doussain put width on the game and they found space in midfield.

Big test for Connacht D now.

Immense pressure. Three minutes of solid carrying ends with Cyril Baille crashing over the line, but Buckley and Fox-Matamua combine to hold him up and prevent the try.

Penalty comes from the scrum for Toulouse and Cros makes a break for the line.

Incredible effort from Connacht, but the breakthrough comes.

TRY! Toulouse 5 Connacht 0 (Fickou ’5)

The pressure was just too much for Connacht to withstand any longer. They haven’t had the ball yet and Bezy converts what was in the end an easy finish for Fickou.

Toulouse 7 Connacht 0

Toulouse still doing a very good job of starving Lam’s men of possession and forcing them to kick with intense defensive pressure.

Connacht just beginning to feel their way in to this game after that big start from the hosts, but the wet conditions continues to make life difficult and an attack peters out with a pass sent behind Niyi.

Off a scrum in their own territory, Huget finds a gap and breaks brilliantly before delaying his pass to perfection, allowing Bonneval romp to the corner.

Doussain adds his second conversion (apologies, I had said Bezy earlier).

Toulouse 14 Connacht 0

In this situation Connacht can’t afford many mistakes and Craig Ronaldson, usually so assured, just made a big one by missing touch from a midfield penalty.

So close to a Toulouse third. Bezy weaves in and out of the line, but 30 metres out his pass inside to Fickou goes to ground and Matt Healy sweeps up the accidental kick.

The hosts force a turnover and more pressure is in the offing for Connacht.

The sheer size and weight of Toulouse helps them make yards into the 22 and Fickou tries to find a route outside. Yann David drops a gear and drives for the line from 10 metres, but Connacht survive and force an offside penalty.

YELLOW CARD: Quinn Roux falls foul of Wayne Barnes and he’s in the bin.

Unbelievably though, Doussain fails to punish the penalty on the scoreboard, he misses from 25 metres, just left of the posts.

Meanwhile, after falling 10 – 3 behind early on. Wasps are on the charge through Ashley Johnson and Oliviero Fabiani is in the sin-bin too. 13 – 8 now in Italy.

As another big clump of turf is dug up by a scrum, it’s time for a break.

HALF-TIME: Toulouse 14 Connacht 3

So, after Wasps take the lead in Parma, here’s how the table stands at the minute. Connacht just one score away from the result they need, despite being out-muscled all over the field.

table

The second half is back under way. And it’s an ideal start for the Westerners with a penalty awarded.

Toulouse give the impression that they would really like this win to come easily. Fickou breaks the line and raids into the 22, but the follow-up ruck effort just isn’t aggressive enough and a limp pass lets Connacht off the hook.

It had to be captain fantastic. John Muldoon barges over the line after a powerful carry from Robb. And Ronaldson adds the extras.

This game is well and truly on!

Toulouse 19 Connacht 10

And they follow it up by winning a midfield penalty!

Chance to build from a line-out just outside the 22 now.

Toulouse force a penalty, but after clearing their lines, James Cannon steals a line-out from Richie Gray and Carty pins them back in the 22.

Toulouse really starting to creak now. Another kick towards touch is batted back in play by Connacht and they try to maraud forward.

Toulouse force another penalty off that attack and then they build a purposeful looking move of their own. Tekori making valuable carries through contact and the white jerseys make yards until the knock-on comes from Perez.

Wasps have their bonus point in Parma. They’ll win the pool with 22 points.

It’s an agonising watch. Connacht attack and try to put that intelligent shape and movement in their play, but the penalties just keep going Toulouse’s way.

Enormous effort being put in from the visitors, but as things stand Toulouse will go to Thomond Park in the quarters.

The weight difference is a real problem for the Westerners. Technique has to be 100% to counteract it.

Excellent kick through from Healy and Huget attempts to pass his way out of trouble, but it’s knocked on. Scrum to Connacht 10 metres out and on the left win.

Acres of space to work with if they can get the scrum right.

Connacht’s best set of phases of the game, they hammer their way into the shadow of the posts and then Ronaldson loops a big pass towards Healy, but the pill just slips out of his grasp. Toulouse survive.

10 minutes to go.

Bezy box kicks and it’s taken brilliantly by O’Halloran. Carty  drills the ball back down into the right corner.

Toulouse have to give away a line-out on the 22. ANother massive chance for the Westerners!

Connacht look to run a quick set move with Heenan popping a pass to Cooney on the blind wing, but it’s telegraphed and the see-saw tips back towards the French giants.

The penalty comes and Bezy drills it to the corner. Toulouse can run the clock down now.

hold on!

Connacht have turned over in their 22 and they’ll attack with width for the rest of this game.

Connacht are brave as hell, running the ball until they can run no more. A brilliant jackal from  Piula Faasalele forces the penalty and brings the fairytale to an end.

FULL-TIME: Toulouse 19 Connacht 10

European Rugby Champions Cup
Toulouse 17 Fans
19 - 10
Full Time
Connacht 253 Fans
Sunday, 22 January, 15:15
Tries
G. Fickou 5'
A. Bonneval 17'
I. Tekori 46'
J. Muldoon 53'
Conversions
J. Doussain 6'
J. Doussain 18'
C. Ronaldson 54'
Penalties
C. Ronaldson 33'
Drop Goal
Yellow Cards
Q. Roux 36'
Red Cards

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