Tuesday 25 April 2017

European watch: Toulouse primed for return to Limerick

Referee Wayne Barnes awards a turnover of possession to Toulouse during the final Connacht attack of the European Rugby Champions Cup Pool 2 Round 6 match between Toulouse and Connacht at Stade Ernest Wallon in Toulouse, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Referee Wayne Barnes awards a turnover of possession to Toulouse during the final Connacht attack of the European Rugby Champions Cup Pool 2 Round 6 match between Toulouse and Connacht at Stade Ernest Wallon in Toulouse, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Declan Rooney

For a brief moment it looked as if Munster would be welcoming Connacht to Thomond Park for an historic Champions Cup quarter-final, but instead four-time winners Toulouse will make the trip to Limerick at the start of April.

Had Connacht managed a late score, we would have a European inter-pro to look forward to again, but the Top14 outfit will pose a significant test.

Coincidentally the teams met in the last knock-out European game to be played in Thomond back in 2013-14 season, when the hosts produced one of the finest displays under Rob Penney to claim a 47-23 win.

Almost three years to the day the sides will meet again, and Rassie Erasmus would be thrilled to see his side run in six tries like they did that day. One of those try scorers, Simon Zebo, said he was delighted to clinch a home quarter-final - and a possible semi-final at the Aviva Stadium - after their win over Racing 92.

"It's great for the fans," said Zebo. "They haven't been here in a few years so it's great to be able to give them a home quarter-final. We've very happy."

As expected at Stade Ernest Wallon Connacht struggled to cope with Toulouse's physicality early on and the two tries they conceded before half-time proved crucial.

Back to their flashy best, Toulouse ran in a couple of scything tries from Gael Fickou and Arthur Bonneval, while Jean-Marc Doussain's boot added crucial points.

Irish Independent

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