Toulouse 32-17 Connacht: Hosts secure bonus point in Heineken Champions Cup
|Heineken Champions Cup: Toulouse v Connacht|
|Toulouse (15) 32|
|Tries: Bezy, Huget, Kaino, Ahki Cons: Ramos 3 Pens: Ramos 2|
|Connacht (14) 17|
|Tries: Farrell, Blade Cons: Fitzgerald 2 Drop goal: Fitzgerald|
Toulouse overcome a battling Connacht to take control of Pool Five in the Heineken Champions Cup with victory at Stade Ernest-Wallon.
Tom Farrell and Caolin Blade scored first-half tries for the visitors but Sebastien Bezy and Yoann Huget replied to put Toulouse ahead at the break.
Jerome Kaino's 64th-minute try proved to be the decisive moment as Connacht's challenge waned.
Pita Ahki crossed with the last play to secure the bonus point for Toulouse.
Although disappointed to concede a fourth try in the 81st minute, Connacht will take great heart from a thoroughly impressive performance against the reigning Top 14 champions.
Three quarters of this game was played on a knife edge with the Irish province leading on three occasions.
Connacht expose Toulouse defensive issues
After an even opening 10 minutes it was the visitors who struck the first blow when Tom Farrell, in for the absent Bundee Aki, burst through a gaping hole in the Toulouse defence to score.
The stunned home crowd did not have to wait long for parity to be restored as Bezy stayed on the shoulder of half-back partner Thomas Ramos to collect the offload and race under the posts.
Although impressive with ball in hand, Toulouse were struggling defensively as Connacht, directed by the excellent Conor Fitzgerald, continued to make inroads.
Connacht restored their lead on 25 minutes through Blade who, on his 100th appearance, benefitted from some destructive running from Colby Fainga'a to race in.
A yellow card shown to Fainga'a for a high tackle offered Toulouse the opportunity to regain the ascendancy, and they did so just before the break as Huget dived over in the corner.
Hosts race clear as Connacht tire
Fly-half Fitzgerald, selected ahead of Ireland international Jack Carty, was enjoying another impressive display and further increased his stock with a nerveless drop goal on 50 minutes.
That score would be Connacht's last, with Toulouse reverting to a forwards-based approach to attack as they ground down their opponents.
Kaino's try appeared inevitable as the hosts pushed Connacht back towards their own line over several phases with the penalties mounting.
Former Connacht player Ahki had the final say to secure the fifth point for Toulouse with a pick-and-go off the back of a ruck.
Toulouse: Ramos; Huget, Guitoune, Tauzin, Medard; Ntamack, Bezy; Baille, Mauvaka, Faumuina, Gray, Tekori; Placines, Elstadt, Kaino.
Replacements: Marchand, Du Toit, Aldegheri, Arnold, Tolofua, Cros, Ahki, Pages.
Connacht: Healy; Godwin, Farrell, Daly, Porch; Fitzgerald, Blade; McCabe, Heffernan, Robertson-McCoy, Dillane, Roux; Masterson, Fainga'a, Copeland.
Replacements: Delahunt, Burke, Bealham, Maksymiw, Boyle, Lloyd, Carty, Robb.