Toulouse crush Stade Francais
April 11, 2010
Toulouse's Yannick Jauzion forces his way over for a try during the clash at the Stade Municipal
© Getty Images
Toulouse delivered a rugby masterclass on their way to an emphatic 42-16 victory over Stade Francais in their Heineken Cup quarter-final clash at the Stade Municipal.
Tries from man of the match Yannick Jauzion, lock Patricio Albacete and winger Cedric Heymans along with 27 points from the boot of fly-half David Skrela ended the Euro hopes of their Top 14 rivals and set up a mouth-watering semi-final showdown with defending champions Leinster next month. A try from prop Rodrigo Roncero had given Stade Francais control of the contest early on but they had no answer to the total rugby produced by the hosts in the second period that kept their dream of a fourth Heineken Cup crown alive.
In a cagey opening, both sides peppered each other with testing kicks but it was a more creative kick from Lionel Beauxis that carved the first significant opening. The fly-half breached the defensive line with chip and chase before kicking into space for Mark Gasnier to chase but the ball went against him, allowing Toulouse's Cedric Heymans to pounce on the loose ball and snuff out the danger. The hosts were then handed a chance to open the scoring when Stade Francais were guilty of coming in from the side on half way but the long-range effort from Florian Fritz fell short and wide.
A superb touch-finder from Beauxis then secured great field position for Stade and the forwards duly rumbled the ball forward before Rodrigo Roncero spilled the ball. But the visitors' willingness to play was increasingly evident. Stade's adventure was undimmed and a typically barn-storming run from centre Mathieu Bastareaud led to another strong passage of play that resulted in Roncero breaking a tackle inside the Toulouse 22 before crashing over for the first try of the game - that was converted by Beauxis.
Back came Toulouse with Yannick Jauzion and David Skrela orchestrating a drive deep into Stade territory but they were thwarted by a determined defensive unit. However, some lazy running from Roncero allowed Skrela the opportunity to reduce the arrears, which he duly took. The tit-for-tat exchange continued with Beauxis punishing some indiscipline from the home side.
Some great handling from Toulouse then had Stade scrambling and a good spell of pressure led to Skrela's second penalty. The dancing feet of fullback Clement Poitrenaud created the next opening but when Stade scrum-half Noel Oelschig pinched the ball, a huge kick from Juan Manuel Leguizamon had Toulouse in trouble before Louis Picamoles who cleared the danger.
Another hefty clearance moments later went too far, handing Toulouse a scrum on their opponents' 22, and the home side capitalised with a timely surge on the stroke of half-time that ended with Jauzion producing some exceptional handling skills before driving under Oelschig for a crowd-pleasing try. Skrela's conversion brought the curtain down on an entertaining half and ensured his side entered the break with a narrow three-point lead.
A high tackle from prop Cencus Johnston on Bastareaud at the start of the second period allowed Beauxis to level the scores but they were not on level terms for long, with Skrela edging his side ahead once again after Dimitri Szarzewski was penalised at the breakdown. But that advantage was wiped out almost immediately when Toulouse were caught off-side and Beauxis stroked over the kick. The penalty-fest continued from the re-start - prompting a word for the captains from referee Alan Lewis - with Skrela slotting the latest kick with the help of the post after Roncero was penalised for obstruction.
Toulouse looked to turn the screw and raised their game to good effect, with Jauzion carving his way through the defence after a big tackle on Gasnier had forced a turnover. The Toulouse centre was eventually sent flying by a shoulder charge from Leguizamon but Skrela was unable to slot the penalty.
Jauzion ghosted through again soon after and a sublime passage of passing involving scrum-half Byron Kelleher, Skrela, captain Thierry Dusautoir and Heymans created the opening for Albacete, who crashed over for a pivotal try. Skrela's conversion cemented the home side's lead as the game entered the final quarter.
Toulouse continued to control the contest with a frustrated hand in the ruck from Stade lock Pascal Pape allowed Skrela to put a nail in the coffin of his former side. They were soon pressing again with a superb rolling maul taking them close before Stade flanker Simon Taylor was penalised and sent to the sin-bin. Skrela's simple kick took his personal tally to 22 points but they were not finished yet.
Pressure forced yet another turnover in midfield and Fritz found Medard whose perfectly judged kick through for Heymans was met at sufficient pace to carry the winger over for his side's third try. Skrela continued his rich run of form with the conversion and he set the seal on the crushing victory with a final penalty.
Graham Jenkins is the Senior Editor of ESPNscrum.
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