The bellows fell back as quickly as it had inflated. After a sensational start to the match rewarded by a converted try, the Toulouse game dangerously withered on Saturday January in Champions Cup. Caught up, then led, Stade Toulousain paid dearly for its many fallen balls and its inability to be clean in conquest.
The reigning European champion lost (30-22) against the English of Wasps and sees his qualification for the round of 16 upset. By having missed the defensive bonus at the end of the match, Stade Toulousain will not have the right to make mistakes when receiving Cardiff next weekend.
A being you miss is everything is depopulated? To assert, as the cliché puts it, that the absence of Antoine Dupont (injured) is the reason for all the ills of the Stadistes would be a bit presumptuous. Yes, the international scrum-half single-handedly carried his team to the victory against Cardiff when his team entered the fray, but his performance already failed to hide shortcomings that had become recurrent among the champions of France. His replacement in the scrum, Martin Page-Relo – first tenure as a professional – did what he could in a group that often confused speed with haste.
Despite a start cannon and a try slammed after a short minute (1’18 precisely) by third-line François Cros, behind a carried ball, and a numerical superiority of nearly 50 minutes (red card conceded by Jacob Umaga to the 34), the teammates of Romain Ntamack fell back into their ways. Balls that fell on passes that were too strong, balls lost on the ground after a lack of support, touches not found, weighed down Toulouse’s conquest and prevented the Rouge et Noir from going all the way. In total, the Toulouse lost no less than 19 balloons.
Unable to make the break, they were first chastened by the might of the Wasps’ mainstay, Biyi Alo. The test validated on video, then transformed by Jimmy Gopperth allowed the English to come back up (19e, 7-7). Back row Brad Shields then doubled the lead with a trickster try on a touchdown combination (32e). The international hooker Peato Mauvaka may have tried to maintain the flame by going there with his test (61e, 20-), Alfie Barbeary immediately came to shower the Stadists’ hopes of victory.
Then remained the possibility of snatching a precious defensive bonus. Between balls returned and bad choices to attack the line, the Toulousains took care of destroying their chance on their own. The reigning European champion will have to show a completely different face against Cardiff if he wants to finish in the eight qualifiers and avoid the affront of elimination from the group stage.