Connacht shock Toulouse in Heineken Cup

Irish side Connacht pulled off one of their biggest shock performances when
they stunned former champions Toulouse 14-16 in the Heineken Cup on Sunday at
Stade Ernest Wallon .

Connacht made it a spectacular clean sweep for the four Irish provinces in
the Heineken Cup in Round 3 as they stunned four-time champions Toulouse with
their first win on French soil in the tournament.

Toulouse hadn’t been beaten at Stade Ernest Wallon in the Heineken Cup since
2009, yet only managed to lead for five minutes in a game that started at breakneck
speed and never let up for a second.

Following on from the big Leinster win at Northampton Saints, Ulster’s huge
home win over Benetton Treviso and Munster’s bonus point triumph at home against
Perpignan, Pat Lam’s Connacht side had the whole of Ireland urging them on to
make it a clean sweep. They didn’t disappoint.

Their line-speed and commitment in defence was amazing and their offensive
ability made life difficult for Toulouse all through the game. They scored one
try and had a second ruled out by the TMO for a slight knock-on some 80 metres
back in the move.

Dan Parks gave Connacht the lead with a 13th minute penalty and then added
a drop goal three minutes later to make it 6-0. It didn’t help the home cause
that outside half Jean-Pascal Barraque missed with two penalty kicks, but he
did make up for his first mistake with a brilliant individual try on the stroke
of half-time.

He dummied past Craig Clarke, weaved past Robbie Henshaw and touched down
at the posts for a try which he converted to make it 7-6 to the home side at
the break.

That lead didn’t last for long, however, as Parks hammered over a penalty five
minutes into the second half and then scrum half Kieran Marmion rounded off
a brilliant right touchline move involving Henshaw and Fionn Carr by burrowing
over for a try which was finally confirmed by the TMO.

Parks converted superbly off the touchline and that gave Connacht a 16-7 lead
with just over half-an-hour to play. Barraque’s second penalty miss was the
cue for Toulouse coach Guy Noves to introduce Lionel Beauxis into the game for
the final quarter.

Henshaw thought he had extended the Connacht lead after 58 minutes when he
raced half-the-length of the field to cross at the posts. The visitors’ had
turned desperate defence into thrilling attack after Toulouse had lost the ball
in the visitors’ 22.

Gavin Duffy and Marmion combined to send the full back racing clear, but Romanian
referee Marius Mitrea asked the TMO to check the origin of the move. Unfortunately
for Connacht the TMO discovered a slight knock-on some 70 metres back in the
play by a Connacht player and they missed out on seven points.

Seven minutes later Toulouse kicked to the left corner and rumbled skipper
Thierry Dusautoir over for a try from a driving line-out. Beauxis converted
off the touchline and the gap was suddenly only two points.

That score set-up a thrilling final 15 minutes in which Connacht never stopped
taking the game to their illustrious opponents and defended like tigers. Dan
Parks missed with a drop goal and a 50 metre penalty in those closing minute
to add to the drama, but there was no denying the Irishmen one of the biggest
upsets in Heineken Cup history.

Final Score Toulouse (7) 14 Connacht (6) 16


Tries – Barraque, Dusautoir
Pen –
Con – Barraque, Beauxis
Drop –

Tries – Marmion
Pen – Parks 2
Con – Parks
Drop – Parks

Match Officials
: Marius Mitrea (Italy),
Assistant ref:

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