Toulouse outclass Ospreys with five try display
PARIS (AFP) –
Four-time European Cup winners Toulouse overran Welsh side Ospreys on Saturday with their 30-14 victory maintaining their 100% record in the pool stages with three wins from three.
Five tries gave the French champions a bonus point as well – the first time they have done that in this season’s tournament – including one from man of the match Vincent Clerc, taking his all-time try scoring record in the Cup to 34.
Toulouse have an eight point lead in Pool 2 over Ospreys and Leicester, though, the English side can reduce that should they beat Italian’s Treviso on Sunday.
Elsewhere Toulouse’s Top 14 rivals Toulon also preserved their faultless record beating English side Sale away 17-6 in a disappointing Pool 6 encounter – Jonny Wilkinson scoring 12 of their points while David Smith scored the only try of the game.
While Toulouse won easily their general manager Guy Noves conceded that the Welsh side were capable of turning the tables on them in next weekend’s return fixture in Wales.
“Our target for the home match has been achieved, the bonus point is important and is the cherry on the cake,” said Noves, who has guided them to all four of their European Cup wins the last in 2010.
“Now we know that it will be very tough at their place.”
Toulouse got off to the ideal start running in two early tries, the first by French centre Florian Fritz and the second by their in-form captain Yannick Nyanga – both helped by poor Welsh defence.
Fritz burst through a gap in the opposing centres and ran it in from outside the 22 while Nyanga latched onto a poor tap back from a lineout by Ryan Jones and ran in unopposed for a 12-0 lead for the hosts.
However, the Welsh side responded well as they scored a try of their own, scrum-half and captain Samoan star Kahn Fotuali’i breaking a tackle and touching down under the posts – it was converted by Dan Biggar to leave them just five points in arrears at the break.
Despite some terrific Ospreys defence Toulouse’s constant pressure finally paid off as Clerc – who scored a hat-trick of tries when the two sides last met eight years ago – went over in the corner after good work by Louis Picamoles for his 34th try in his 69th European Cup appearance.
Luke McAlister missed the conversion to leave the hosts 17-7 ahead with 20 minutes remaining but Census Johnston extended their lead when he barrelled over in the corner after being set up by Picamoles for his first try of the season.
Replacement Jean-Marc Doussain – who had replaced McAlister – missed the conversion but France back Yoann Huget rounded off the hosts’ scoring with their fifth try just over five minutes from time to round off a convincing victory – the visitors grabbed a late consolation try to lend a more respectable hue to the final score.
Another Welsh side Scarlets also went down to defeat as English side Exeter – enjoying their maiden season in the competition – won 22-16 in Wales to move third in the pool and leave the hosts with just a point to their name.
Exeter’s win keeps their dim hopes alive of topping the pool, though, the top two clash on Sunday – present leaders Clermont hosting two-time defending champions Leinster, who trail their opponents by two points.