Wasps 16 Toulouse 24
Under-pressure Wasps' hopes of Champions Cup progression were all but ended by Toulouse in Coventry last night. The English side needed to beat the in-form French aristocrats, having lost to Leinster and drawn with Bath in their opening two fixtures in Pool 1.
But they fell to their sixth defeat in seven games as tries from Cheslin Kolbe and Sofiane Guitoune, plus 14 points from the boot of Thomas Ramos, ensured four-time champions Toulouse maintained their perfect record in the competition.
Wasps entered the game unbeaten in 12 home games against French opposition and began well in tricky conditions, taking an early lead through Lima Sopoaga's penalty.
Toulouse soon settled and combined brute force from a giant pack with pace and precision from the backs. South African wing Kolbe put his side in front with a superb solo effort, beating three tackles at the halfway line before running away to the corner. Ramos missed the extras and Wasps captain Elliot Daly - rumoured for a summer exit to Saracens - landed a huge 50-metre penalty.
Nathan Hughes was forced off through injury and Toulouse retook the lead with full-back Ramos - the leading points scorer in the Top 14 this season - kicking a penalty. He added another on the 30-minute mark, but the visitors lost Maks van Dyk to the sin-bin after a high tackle on Tom Cruse. Wasps immediately capitalised on the man advantage. Michael Le Bourgeois powered through loose defending from a lineout with Will Rowlands finishing off the move at the posts.
Wasps had to hold firm before the break to extinguish two promising Toulouse attacks.
Toulouse continued on the front foot after the break, with Ramos adding his third penalty from close range, and it soon got better when centre Guitoune crossed after collecting Maxime Mermoz's reverse ball.
Daly's second penalty from the halfway line kept Wasps in touch, but Ramos responded minutes later with his fourth three-pointer.
Louis Madaule became the second Toulouse player to be sent to the sin-bin, for a stamp on Brad Shields, but Wasps failed to make the extra man count this time as the visitors cleared their lines.
The French remained in control of proceedings, despite the player deficit, and were good value for victory to remain top of the group ahead of next weekend's return match.
Lucky, lucky Leinster. They have become adept in these battles of the wills, and they played the conditions better than Bath, but if the West Country team had a full roster and a more definitive game plan they could have easily won this game.
One of the many components in the make-up of champion teams is the ability to ride out the odd storm. In front of 14,425 on a miserable winter's day at one of rugby's great locations, Leinster had to battle to stay afloat.
Exeter's hopes of European glory were all but extinguished as they crashed to a surprise home defeat yesterday. The loss left Exeter without a win in their first three European matches and leaves them rooted to the bottom of Pool 2 with only three points and difficult trips to Munster and Gloucester still to come.
Shoes and socks. That's what Joey Carbery remembers about his 11-year-old self coming to Ireland from New Zealand. As in, everyone here wore them going to school. Moreover, they kept them on when they got there.