Illness-hit Connacht easily beaten by Toulouse
Connacht 9 Toulouse 37
CONNACHT’S dream of recording back-to-back wins over Toulouse was shattered as despite another gutsy showing, the home side were outplayed in the Sportsground.
Connacht were game throughout but never really looked like repeating the upset of last weekend with the French giants securing the bonus point early in the second half.
The outbreak of flu in the squad dogged Connacht’s preparations right up to kick off as Frank Murphy was forced out of the match day squad, meaning westerners had no reserve scrum-half.
But it was Connacht who started brighter. Dan Parks opened the scoring with a penalty after an over-eager Toulouse side strayed offside but Toulouse ten Lionel Beauxis canceled that out with a penalty of his own.
The home side were showing plenty of adventure in the early exchanges but forays into the Toulouse 22 were rare and it was the visitors who got he game’s first try.
Beauxis spotted space and Maxime Medard raced on to his clever kick to dot down before the outhalf added the extras.
Connacht’s response was good though as they claimed the restart and Dan Parks landed a drop goal to move Pat Lam’s men to within four points.
But Medard would strike again within minutes for a second try that was almost a carbon copy of the first. Beauxis’ kick was again superb, spotting the gap behind Fionn Carr and the French international raced home.
Connacht mustered another response with another Parks drop goal but on Toulouse’s next visit to the 22, hooker Christopher Tolofua bundled over. Beauxis landed the conversion for the last score of the half and leave the home side trailing 22-9 at the interval.
The second half was largely a matter of when Toulouse would grab their fourth try and secure a bonus point. And with the second half almost 15 minutes old, a bit of quick thinking at line out time saw No 8 Louis Picamoles steal in down the blindside.
Things were going from bad to worse for the home side. With their resources already stretched, Craig Ronaldson was forced off just minutes after coming on for Dan Parks.
On the other hand, Guy Noves able to unload his heavyweight bench introducing the likes of Joe Tekori and Hosea Gear to the fray.
Connacht kept plugging away though and Fionn Carr made a telling break which Henshaw carried on but Toulouse scrambled sufficiently to snuff out the danger.
Beauxis landed his second penalty of the night before Gael Fickou dotted down for try number 5 with the last action of the half.
Connacht return to Pro 12 action next weekend with the visit of the Dragons as they look to remove themselves from the foot of the table.
Toulouse: C Poitrenaud; Y Huget, F Fritz, Y David (G Fickou 57), M Medard (H Gear 65); L Beauxis, JM Doussain (S Bezy 70); S Ferreira (G Steenkamp 60), C Tolofua (C Ralepelle 60), C Johnston (Y Montes 60); R Millo-Chluski, Y Maestri (J Tekori 60), Y Ntanga, T Dusatoir (capt), L Picamoles
Connacht: R Henshaw; F Carr, E Griffin, D McSharry (G Duffy 64), M Healy; D Parks (C Ronaldson 54 (D Leader 56), K Marmion; B Wilkinson (D Buckley 52), J Harris-Wright (S Henry (52), R Ah You (JP Cooney 63); M Kearney (G Naoupu 67), C Clarke (A Browne 64); J Muldoon, J Heenan, E McKeon
Ref: L Hodges