Toulouse smile; Saracens grumpy
CHAMPIONS CUP REACTION & HIGHLIGHTS: French giants Toulouse afforded themselves a ‘smile’, but English rivals Saracens were ‘grumpy’ after both teams remained unbeaten.
Two tries from scrumhalf Antoine Dupont and 17 points from the boot of fullback Thomas Ramos led Toulouse to a superb 42-27 win over Wasps on Saturday – which all but guarantees the French club a place in the last eight of the European Champions Cup.
Saracens also strengthened their chase for the last eight with a hard-fought 26-14 win over the Blues in Cardiff.
Four-time champions Toulouse ran in five tries at the Stade Ernest-Wallon to collect a vital bonus point and make it four wins from four.
Even if they finish second behind Leinster, they are likely to figure as one of the best two runners-up.
“Having 17 points after four rounds in such a tough group, we earned the right to have a little smile,” said Toulouse coach Ugo Mola.
“In our sport, you have to play and stop others from being able to play,” he added.
“So it was very satisfying from an attacking point of you, but much less in terms of our ability to defend in key moments.
“But we’re on 17 points after four rounds in the Champions Cup in a really strong pool, so mission accomplished.”
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Two-time champions Saracens also moved closer to the quarterfinals after coming from behind at half-time to beat Cardiff Blues 26-14 and make it four wins from four in Pool Three.
England flyhalf Owen Farrell said Saracens were “too nice.”
“I thought we came out second half and took it to them a little bit more,” Farrell said in his post-match reaction.
“[In the] first half we were too nice and didn’t care.
“Cardiff has been a tough team these past two weeks and credit to them but we’ll be frustrated for not putting a complete performance together.
“Credit to the forwards there, they put in a big shift.
“We’re not saying it’s not tough to come here to win, they’re a top, top team, but in terms of how we’ve performed, the first half wasn’t good enough.”
Coach Mark McCall expanded on the theme.
“We’ve got a group that is very picky with incredibly high standards,” McCall said.
“It was about the result and getting it done, but overall there is a discontent with some of what we are serving up.
“There is more in us.
“Cardiff is a really good team and they put it to us.
“There are aspects of our performance we would like to get better at, but when we were down to 14 men with 20 minutes to go I thought we showed all of our experience and managed that part of the game superbly well.
“We were very composed.”
Saracens top the pool with 18 points. Cardiff Blues have no chance of reaching the last eight with three defeats and one win.
Glasgow Warriors tightened their hold on second place in Pool Three and maintained their last eight hopes after overcoming terrible weather conditions at home to beat Lyon 21-10, the French side’s fourth straight defeat.
Castres beat Munster for the first time since 2004 as Paea Fa’anunu scored the only try, after 23 minutes, in a game played in the rain and dominated by kicking.
The home team played half of the second half with 14 men, after yellow cards to Rory Kockott and Marc-Antoine Rallier. Munster also had Niall Scannell sin-binned and helped the home team by squandering potential points.
Andrew Conway knocked on as he went to touch down his own kick for a try. Joey Carberry missed three of his seven penalty kicks including a potential match-winner with 10 minutes left.
“The whole team wanted to win and you could see that in the way we defended,” said Kevin Firmin, the Castres hooker.
In Dublin, six different players touched down for Leinster as they swept Bath aside.