Rampant Glasgow take French spoils
GLORIOUS Glasgow pulled off the greatest result in the history of Scottish pro-team rugby when they humbled arguably the most successful club in the world on their own turf.
The Warriors had travelled to France without any hope of reaching the advanced stages of the Heineken Cup. But despite the rollercoaster nature of their campaign, they were confident they could have a say in the outcome of their group.
It was a daunting task for Glasgow, who were up against a 22-man squad containing only one non-Test player. However, they produced a display that could only be described as astonishing, if not unbelievable.
To put the result in context, Toulouse set a French Top 14 record of 11 consecutive wins when they beat Dax on January 9, and went into yesterday's game having won their last 15 matches in all competitions. Toulouse are three-time Heineken Cup winners and are currently ranked the No.1 club in Europe by the respected eurorugby.com site.
Such is their pedigree it is no wonder Glasgow were pushed to the very limit. Going into the last 10 minutes, they led 33-9 – then had to dig deep to prevent their opponents from completing their revival.
Glasgow had made an encouraging start as centre Max Evans powered across the gain-line twice in quick succession. however, when a weak Dan Parks clearance paved the way for the first Toulouse raid. And Argentine debutant Jose-Maria Piossek was lucky not to be penalised for a block on Clement Poitrenaud as he chased his own chip in the danger zone.
Having weathered the storm, Glasgow earned the opening pot at goal when Yannick Nyanga held on too long in a tackle by man-of-the-match Max Evans. And Parks confidently slotted over his 45-metre effort.
Even better was to come for the Warriors two minutes later as they carved out a try which stunned the partisan 19,500 crowd. Under pressure from Max Evans, Vincent Clerc failed to deal with a grubber kick towards the line. Graeme Morrison nipped in to steal the ball and flop over. Parks converted then doubled his penalty tally to open up a 13-0 lead.
Obstruction by John Barclay on Cedric Heymans allowed Jean-Baptiste Elissalde to claw back three points with a 40-metre penalty.
However, Glasgow created a marvellous second try that even had the locals showing approval. Again, the Evans boys launched the move with a chip and chase before Barclay delivered the scoring pass to back-row mate Kelly Brown. Parks added the extras, but was then off-target with a monster 60-metre penalty.
The stand-off was back in the spotlight on the stroke of half-time to clip over an opportunist drop-goal – stretching the margin to 20.
Predictably the rattled hosts came out with all guns blazing for the second period to pin the Warriors back. Glasgow lost flanker James Eddie to a suspected knee ligament injury, with Johnnie Beattie entering the fray. Elissalde clipped over a penalty and repeated the dose six minutes later to heap more pressure on the tiring visitors.
The contest exploded as the tension mounted and referee Wayne Barnes had to deal with an all-out brawl featuring virtually all 30 players.
Elissalde and Barclay were each yellow carded – with Glasgow being awarded a penalty. And Parks couldn't disguise his disgust as he pulled it wide from almost straight in front. Parks had a chance to atone from a much more difficult position when Fabien Pelous threw a punch – and this time he was deadly accurate.
Glasgow were left with 12 minutes to stave off a home revival – but they not only survived, they pounced for yet another try. The Toulouse back-ranks panicked and couldn't mop up a grubber kick. Hefin O'Hare missed the initial chance to scoop up the loose ball, but Max Evans was ideally positioned to claim the crucial first touch. Parks safely converted.
The desperate hosts threw everything into attack and bullied the Glasgow pack into giving away a penalty try, goaled by Yannick Jauzion. And when Vincent Clerc nipped over for Gaffie du Toit to convert in the 76th minute, the outcome was really back in the balance.
But Toulouse – the mighty five-time European finalists – had to be content with a consolation bonus point via Du Toit's last-gasp penalty.
Toulouse: C Poitrenaud; V Clerc, M Kunavore, Y Jauzion, C Heymans; F Michalak, J-B Elissalde; J-B Poux, V Lacombe, S Perugini, R Millo-Chluski, P Albacete, J Bouilhou, S Sowerby, Y Nyanga. Subs: A V Basualdo, D Human, F Pelous, G Lamboley, B Kelleher for Michalak 40, F Fritz, G du Toit.
Glasgow: B Stortoni; J-M Nunez Piossek, M Evans, G Morrison, T Evans; D Parks, C Gregor; J Va'a, D Hall, M Low, D Turner, A Kellock (capt), J Eddie, K Brown, J Barclay. Subs: F Thomson, E Kalman, R Vernon, J Beattie, A Henderson, H O'Hare, C Shaw.
Scorers: Toulouse – Try: pen try, Clerc. Con: Jauzion, Du Toit. Pen: Elissalde 3, Du Toit. Glasgow – Try: Morrison, Brown, M Evans. Con: Parks 3. Pen: Parks 3. DG: Parks.
Referee: W Barnes (RFU).
'When we work hard we are as good as any team in Europe'
GLASGOW coach Sean Lineen hailed the remarkable victory over Toulouse in France and claimed his team were a match for any side in Europe on their day.
"It's been a really tough couple of weeks for us and today was all about work rate," Lineen said. "We are simply not a good enough side to be able to win without working hard, we don't have the same players that Toulouse do.
"Today we worked hard and got our reward. When we do that we are as good as any team in Europe and I think that today has convinced some of our players of that. When we relax and think that we have some divine right to win, that's when we mess up.
"I thought that our defence was outstanding today and credit must go to Gary Mercer for that because he has had a difficult time recently. The front five worked their socks off and I thought that Kelly Brown and John Barclay were absolutely outstanding. Colin Gregor and Dan Parks controlled the game.
"We surprised Toulouse with our game plan, going wide from our own 22 because there is just no point in kicking the ball to a team like Toulouse.In fairness we got a couple of lucky bounces in the first half but then you need a little luck when you play against a team like Toulouse.
"I am just delighted for the players. It's a fantastic feeling to come here and win. There are a few broken and shattered bodies in the dressing room."