Toulouse edge closer to last eight
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