Toulouse beaten as Brit connection fires Toulon
European champions Toulouse slid to their first defeat of the French
domestic season on Saturday, going down 22-16 at Castres to leave Stade
Francais and Bayonne as the only sides boasting 100 percent records
after two matches.
Toulouse had seen off Agen comfortably enough in last week’s opener
but they could not reproduce that form whereas Castres were all business
in making up for a narrow opening loss at unfancied La Rochelle as they
avenged a championship quarter-final loss from last season.
Barely three minutes were on the clock before Castres were ahead with
Kiwi Cameron McIntyre sending over a drop goal before Romain Teulet
added a penalty.
McIntyre then set up compatriot Chris Masoe, who appeared to drop the
ball in going over but the try stood to the delight of the bulk of the
17,000 fans at the Stade de la Mediterranee.
Fullback Teulet converted and things looked bleak for 17-time
champions Toulouse, down 13-3 at the break.
Teulet then added three penalties and although fly-half Jean-Marc
Doussain added a pair of second half penalties to a first half effort
and Sylvain Nicolas went over for the visitors with ten minutes left to
leave the scores at 22-16 - Nicolas Bezy converting - it was too little
Castres skipper Alexandre Albouy lauded a deserved win.
“We really wanted to show what we could do after the loss at La
Rochelle, where we really didn’t play. Tonight, we showed our mettle and
were aggressive from the outset.”
Toulouse prop Jean-Baptiste Poux admitted: “We didn’t really get into
the game and made a lot of mistakes when in possession. We were a bit
better in the closing stages but by then it was too late. We lacked a
bit of rhythm, which is normal at the start of the season and we have
work to do.”
On Friday, the boot of Jonny Wilkinson and a try from fellow
Englishman Kris Chesney gave cash-rich Toulon a belated jump-start to
their Top 14 season as the pair combined to inspire a 13-3 win at
Biarritz, their first win at the venue in 29 years.
Philippe Saint-Andre’s star-sprinkled squad opened up with a home
loss to Bayonne, but this time they made no mistake despite missing
experienced Argentinian duo Felipe Contepomi and Juan Fernandez Lobbe,
as well as Scotland back Rory Lamont and veteran scrum-half Pierre
Biarritz started off with a win at home to Montpellier but were
unable to stay the course despite the return to the fray of France
number eight Imanol Harinordoquy following a rib injury.
Toulon were quickly on the offensive against the European Cup
finalists at the Stade Aguilera and Chesnay scored what proved to be the
game’s only try after 26 minutes, which Wilkinson converted.
The latter’s boot inflicted further damage with a penalty and a
drop-goal after a Dmitri Yachvili penalty had briefly given Biarritz
hope. “Tonight, there were no stars but a team,” said Saint-Andre.
“In rugby you need champions, but the star is the team.”
Stade Francais and Bayonne now lead Toulouse by three points having
both opened their campaigns with back-to-back successes, Friday seeing
off La Rochelle 41-26 and Agen 27-0 respectively.
Defending champions Clermont shrugged off an opening day loss to
Perpignan - whom they deprived of the crown last term - with a 25-12
victory at Bourgoin while Perpignan went down 26-11 at Brive in the
absence of a trio of fly-halves owing to a mixture of injury and
sickness. PARIS, Aug 21, 2010 (AFP)