Best of the Weekend: Toulouse produce a masterclass

Another round is over, but the action has been as good as we’ve ever seen. Here, as always, is the Best of the Weekend.

Harlequins run comes to an end, as Saints are thumped and Saracens press on

The prediction had been on Friday that Harlequins would be truly tested for the first time that evening. To be honest though, not many teams could have coped with the intensity which Toulouse produced at the Stoop. Dominating the breakdown throughly simply playing about two or three gears above anything Harlequins could match, the work of captain Thierry Dusautoir and standout number 8 Louis Picamoles was the difference. Brilliantly marshalled by their two Lukes, Burgess and McAlister, Toulouse exploited the Quins midfield of Benjamin Urdapilleta and Matt Hopper, with the latter missing a key tackle in the build-up to Timoci Matanavou’s try. A tough, but good lesson for Quins, who must now get a result next week in the South of France.

It was another negative result for Northampton, who are officially down and out of this year’s competition, in an incredibly disappointing turn of events after reaching last year’s final. A four try thumping away at Castres, plus 21 points from the boot of Romain Teulet at full back, lead to their defeat. Tom Wood picked up his second card in a week, this time yellow, as did Stephen Myler, not helping Saints cause or their current form, having lost four out of their last five matches.

There was however good news for Saracens, returning to Wembley Stadium once more to take on the Ospreys, and picking up a 31-26 win. A brace from centre Ashley Beck was not enough for the Welsh visitors, as Owen Farrell managed to score 16 points and spend time in the sin-bin. The win moves them top of Pool 5, with a win in Swansea next weekend putting them in good control of the group.

Plenty of Irish success home and away

Good news if you were supporting the majority of the Irish sides this weekend, as Ulster, Leinster, Munster and London Irish all picked up results at home and away. Ulster’s win over Aironi was perhaps expected, but they did the job in picking up the bonus point. Five tries in all, including scores from Stephen Ferris and Andrew Trimble, means that Ulster edge above Leicester into second place.

Leinster survived a spirited first half performance from Bath to pick up a win away at the Rec, six penalties from Johnny Sexton proving the difference and meaning that the champions are very much in charge of Pool 3. Munster took a crucial lead in Pool 1 by winning against the Scarlets, in front of a record crowd at Parc y Scarlets. In the end some crucial missed kicks by Rhys Priestland and excellent defence from the visitors was the difference, meaning the Scarlets have to get a result at Thomond Park.

One of the performances of the weekend though came in Paris, where yours truly witnessed London Irish score 24 unanswered points against Racing Métro in the second half. More on that in a Tour Diary to come later, but the results means that Irish’s seemingly dead hopes of qualification are alive again. It’s hard to imagine Racing caring much about next week’s return fixture now they are out after three losses, so if Irish can pick up another five points, then their game against Cardiff becomes massive.

Try of the weekend goes to Sireli Bobo of Racing Métro 92. A wonderful chip kick from El Mago himself Juan Mártin Hernández was gathered by Bobo, who completed a sweet one-two with Josh Matavesi before speeding away down the left hand touchline.

Hero of the weekend is Treviso’s Kristopher Burton. The fly-half kicked 16 points for Treviso in their win over Biarritz, in another epic win for an Italian side in a repeat of last year’s surprise result by Aironi. His composure to land the kick that gave Treviso some breathing space at 30-26 was crucial.

Villain of the weekend is Morgan Parra. Despite his side picking up a convincing win, images have circulated of Parra biting George Chuter’s arm prior to the Leicester hooker being sin-binned. Disgraceful.

by Ben Coles

7 thoughts on “Best of the Weekend: Toulouse produce a masterclass

  1. Chris Robshaw’s stock went up on Friday night. He didn’t give up trying even when the cause seemed lost. Then when the interviewer said to him about his performance comparatively to that of Dusautoir he dismissed it as being nothing and that the focus was on the team.

    That is what makes a captain.

    Quins were second best all night, but its a good learning curve for those guys. A young team who will undoubtedly become stronger over the next few years.

    Morgan Parra…. Horrible little ****. He certainly knew when to make the most of the hit from Chuter too. It seems that the French backs seem to be taking a leaf out of their footballing counterparts

  2. Agreed about Robshaw. He just never stopped. Would also say the same about Robson and Marler.

    Quins are very good but were always going to come up short against such a star-studded team. Any side that can afford to leave players like David or Servat on the bench is to be feared

    Quins still would have lost, but its a shame they have Turner-Hall and Lowe injured. They really could have done with them as the stand-in centres looked rather out of their depth (one great break from Hopper aside)

    As you say though Andy, a learning curve for Quins and they will be the better for it

    Would love to see an overly-complacent Toulouse get beaten at home though! You never know with the French….

    1. Paolo – do you think Marler had a good enough game in the tight to warrant a 6 nations start?

      robshaw must be nailed on for an england shirt?

      1. Jimmy –

        Surely Robshaw cannot be left out this time!

        Re Marler. He is still young and learning his trade. However, I think he is good enough in the tight to warrant a place in the squad.

        An initially shaky Quins scrum seemed to perk itself up a lot in the second half against Toulouse (a similar thing happened at Wasps the week before). And to my (not exactly expert) eyes, the problems seem to mostly lie with Johnston at tight head

        At the rest of the game, he reminds me of Gethin Jenkins and Owen Franks. He is everywhere on the park, making tackles, hitting rucks and often forcing turnovers. He plays like an extra flanker. And in the loose, he is quick, strong and has good hands and a good sense of timing and positioning

        In terms of England, i think you have to look at the competition. Sheridan is surely finished now, so the current looseheads are Corbisiero and Stevens (if they decide to play him in his best position). I can’t think of anyone else

        Stevens hasn’t hit the heights of his old form and whilst I like Corbisiero he is playing off the bench for Irish at the moment as they prefer Dermody.

        Is there anyone else?

        Still, even if England don’t start Marler or even put him on the bench, they should be able to fit him into the 33(?) man squad and the experience will only help him further

  3. I dont think Marler is quite good enough yet. He’s only 21 and its a massive step up from AP to International. He’ll get a good run in the Saxons (as will Joe Gray) and he maybe there in 2013.

  4. “Munster took a crucial lead in Pool 1 by winning against the Scarlets, in front of a record crowd at Parc y Scarlets.”


    “Good news if you were supporting the majority of the Irish sides this weekend, as Ulster, Leinster, Munster and London Irish all picked up results at home and away.”

    London Irish aren’t an Irish side. They’re English. It’s just a name at this point.

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