Toulouse edge closer to last eight

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Sport - - RUGBY -

TOULOUSE moved a step closer to the Heineken Cham­pi­ons Cup quar­ter-fi­nals with a bonus point vic­tory over Wasps.

The four-time Euro­pean cham­pi­ons re­tained top spot in Pool One with Wasps math­e­mat­i­cally out of the equa­tion. Tries from Yoann Huget, Joe Tekori, Ro­main Nta­mack and two from An­toine Dupont plus 17 points from the boot of Thomas Ramos were enough to se­cure the win.

Wasps scored three tries of their own courtesy of Josh Bas­sett, Wil­lie le Roux and Ross Neal with Billy Searle kick­ing 12 points.

The home side crossed for their first try within three min­utes with Huget in­ter­cept­ing a loose pass from Le Roux in the Wasps 22 to cross at the far left­hand cor­ner. Wasps ground their way into the Toulouse half with Searle cut­ting the home side’s lead to two points with a suc­cess­ful penalty at­tempt.

Thomas Young sparked his side into life with a 30-me­tre break down the touch­line be­fore be­ing brought down.

The ball was even­tu­ally re­cy­cled with Le Roux and Young show­ing some terrific han­dling to put Bas­set over for their first try.

Toulouse hit straight back with the soft­est of off­loads from Sofi­ane Guitoune re­leas­ing Tekori who sidestepped Le Roux to score. The hosts con­tin­ued to lay siege to the Wasps line as they looked to power their way over but the ball was re­cy­cled to Jerome Kaino who put Nta­mack over with a nice pass.

Wasps kept com­ing back at their hosts with El­liot Daly break­ing clear from his own 22. The Eng­land in­ter­na­tional ran all the way to the Toulouse 22 be­fore find­ing Le Roux on his shoul­der with the Spring­bok run­ning in un­op­posed.

Toulouse had a try dis­al­lowed just be­fore the in­ter­val when Huget spilt the ball for­ward over the line af­ter a neat pass from Ramos.

Ramos and Searle ex­changed penal­ties mean­ing Toulouse led 22-20 at the break.

It took the home side a mere three min­utes of the sec­ond half to se­cure the bonus-point try with Huget hit­ting the per­fect an­gle be­fore his in­side pass sent Dupont over.

But Searle dragged Wasps back into the game with his sear­ing in­side break re­leas­ing Le Roux on his out­side who sent Neal fly­ing over the try line.

The home side fi­nally pulled clear of Wasps when an off­load from Zak Holmes sent Ramos rac­ing 30 me­tres up field be­fore the full­back put Dupont over for his sec­ond. Ramos capped a fine per­for­mance with a late penalty.

Wasps di­rec­tor of rugby Dai Young be­lieves his side are head­ing in the right di­rec­tion de­spite the de­feat.

“I thought our at­tack was prob­a­bly the best it has been all sea­son and we put some re­ally good stints in de­fence,” said the for­mer Wales prop.

“It wasn’t enough on the day so we are never go­ing to re­joice and pat our­selves on the back for los­ing. But if we can build on this, it will take a good team to beat us. I thought we looked more like the old Wasps out there. I’ve said in the last two to three weeks we’re look­ing more like the team we want to be.

“We want to win ev­ery game, but Toulouse are a very, very good team and no-one has re­ally got near them. It’s no crime to lose, but it’s a mas­sive game for us next week­end in the Premier­ship.

“I felt we were out of the com­pe­ti­tion com­ing here, but it means too much to me per­son­ally and the club so we were never go­ing to throw the towel in,” said Young. “I think the score­line was a lit­tle bit un­kind to us in the end. They prob­a­bly had a lit­tle bit too much for us on the day, but there were lots of pos­i­tives.

“The young play­ers have got some Euro­pean ex­pe­ri­ence now. I thought they all stood up and they can be proud of their ef­forts. All we need is a win and that will only add to the be­lief mov­ing for­ward. Hope­fully that’s sooner rather than later.”

Toulouse winger Yoann Huget runs in for a try dur­ing yes­ter­day’s Euro­pean Cham­pi­ons Cup pool match at the Ernest Wal­lon Sta­dium. Photo: Remy Ga­balda

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