McAlister shines for Toulouse on Hook’s debut

Top 14 Rugby Champions Toulouse inflicted a fifth successive defeat on 2009 title winners Perpignan on Saturday as six penalties from former All Black Luke McAlister saw them to a 21-17 victory in their Top 14 clash.


McAlister’s penalties and one from Lionel Beauxis was enough to see Toulouse go provisonally top of the table ahead of Clermont’s away match with Stade Francais later on Saturday.


While Perpignan were unable to stop their losing run there was much for them to take heart from, in particular an impressive debut by Welsh star James Hook, against a Toulouse side that welcomed back several of their World Cup stars.


Hook was in sparkling form in comparison to his rather subdued performances at the World Cup where he was superseded by Rhys Priestland at fly-half and Leigh Halfpenny at fullback.


The Welsh star first produced a sublime kick into the far corner where Farid Sid was on hand to catch it and touch down for a try – which Hook converted – to give the visitors a 7-0 lead early on.


However, three penalties from former All Black Luke McAlister gave Toulouse the advantage at 9-7 before Hook landed a drop goal from all of 45 metres to restore their lead.


But McAlister, who was not selected for the World Cup despite boasting 30 caps for the All Blacks and playing a pivotal role at the 2007 World Cup, sent the hosts in ahead at the break as he successfully converted a penalty in the dying seconds of the half.


Both Hook and McAlister missed penalties early in the second-half with the hosts beginning to dominate the match.


However, it was the visitors who scored against the run of play as the lively Sid made a great solo break before being stopped just short of the tryline.


From the ensuing maul, Damien Chouly touched down for his first try of the season.


Hook made no mistake with the conversion to make it 17-12 to Perpignan but McAlister reduced the deficit to two points in the 57th minute with another penalty.


The Kiwi added another with just over 10 minutes remaining to give Toulouse the lead by a point and then his replacement Lionel Beauxis gave them the breathing space they needed with another three-pointer.


Final Score Toulouse 21 Perpignan 17

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