London Irish 24 - 26 Toulouse
by The Cats (Peter Burnett)
It was with great expectation of a free flowing game that I went to the MadStad yesterday with my Daughter Niamh. Both teams' interests in the Tournament were over, but even with a few injuries to key players, Stade still had a very strong side out. In the backs they had the huge talent of the likes of Baby, Thomas and Garbajosa, and in the forwards Brennan, Lamboley and Omar Hasan, a prop the size of the Pampas, from which he comes.
From the start we set out our game plan as we tore into Stade with searing runs from Shane, Gonzalo and Seilala, with Shane's magnificent break and Gonzo's awsome off-load almost putting Topsy in for a try - only for him to be bundled into touch. On the other hand, our invention was to be our downfall, as sloppy handling errors cost us two turn over tries scored by the eager Garbajosa.
- photo by AlecW
I have to say that the first one was scored while Juan Leguizamon was being treated for an injury, and we were being pushed back in the Maul. Our forwards were really fronting up and Tonga , Danie and Faan were maginficent in the front row, matching them every step of the way. Our Line Out was its usual effective self, with both Bob and Nick providing great ball for the extremely gifted Paul Hodgson to use. England must have huge strength in depth at scrum-half if they can leave Paul out of both squads.
Anyway back to the game. Almost constant pressure saw one of their players sin-binned for a late tackle on Dodge and whilst they were down to 14 players we scored from a scrum on their line, with Juan bursting through and feeding Shane with a beautiful off-load for a try which was unconverted.
London Irish 5 - 15 Stade Toulousain at half-time.
In the second half it was more of the same as we enjoyed more of the possession and territory but couldn't convert. This I have to put down to sloppy execution and great Stade defence. By this time we had seen Toulouse putting on stronger subs with internationals Perugini, Bru, Nyanga and Elissalde entering the fray. We also put out all our subs, with Riki coming on early in the first half due to an injury to Dom Shabbo. Barry immediately made a difference with a searing break that nearly brought us a try. But it soon became the Delon show as he ran in three tries, the second of which was a cracker involving storming runs from Paicey and Tonga.
- photo by AlecW
Stade hit back with a try from Benoit Baby after one of 'Alfie' Thomas' trade mark runs. I suspect the watching Gareth Jenkins must have been impressed. They also sealed the game with a try from Elissalde, although informed sources from the East Stand told me after the game that the woeful Alan Lewis had missed not only a blatent off-side, but also a forward pass.
Truck 'n' Trailer
- photo by AlecW
Final score: London Irish 24 - 26 Stade Toulousain
In conclusion a great game for the non- partisan fan to go to.
I must say that the standing ovation for Big Trev was great, but we must be more clinical on the try line and not turn over as much ball as we did to the opposition. That said, Stade Toulouse are a great side and defensively they were spot on in making their tackles. Also their rolling maul, when they were winding down the clock at the end of the game, was a thing of beauty.
Man of the match
Although most people will quite rightly make Delon man of the match with his hat-trick and solid dependability under the high ball, for me it will be a forward.
Step forward Juan Manuel 'El Ninho' Leguizamon
. His power, pace and skills never cease to amaze me and his never-say-die attitude to the cause makes him the ultimate team player. His little ball trap and run would have made Maradonna proud. It is no coincidence that when Juan was injured Stade scored their first try from a rolling maul.
If he could get a little more teflon on his hands he would be, by a country mile, the best No. 8 in the World. I suppose every player must have a weakness!