Thu. Jul 18th, 2024
Pierre-Louis Barassi scored two of Toulouse’s tries

Harlequins: (12) 19

Tries: Esterhuizen, Herbst 2 Cons: Smith 2

Toulouse: (21) 47

Tries: Barassi 2, Delibes, Mauvaka, Lebel, Neti, Ramos Cons: Ramos 5, Arnold

Harlequins were outclassed by French champions Toulouse as they conceded seven tries in a 47-19 Investec Champions Cup thrashing at the Stoop.

Toulouse scored three clinical first-half tries, but Quins kept themselves in the game with tries from Andre Esterhuizen and Irne Herbst.

However, four more Toulouse tries followed in the second half as Antoine Dupont’s side ran Quins ragged.

Herbst scored the home side’s only try of a disappointing second half.

Toulouse followed up the seven tries they scored against Cardiff last week with another dazzling attacking display that underlines their hopes of becoming champions for a sixth time.

They top the Pool 2 standings on points difference from Bath, while Harlequins, who stunned Racing 92 in Paris last weekend, are fourth.

The game was delayed for 10 minutes in the first half when Toulouse centre Pita Ahki made a head-on-head tackle on Quins lock Dino Lamb.

Lamb was carried off the pitch on a stretcher for further treatment, while Ahki only avoided a red card because he was deemed to be falling back in the tackle.

France captain Antoine Dupont showed his strength, vision and attacking skills

Toulouse start fast as Quins hang on

The game got off to an electric start with Toulouse’s star backs showing their ability with the ball in hand.

Ahki side-stepped his way through Quins’ defence and fed fellow centre Pierre-Louis Barassi to score the first try in the eighth minute.

South African centre Esterhuizen replied minutes later by powering over Thomas Ramos’ attempted tackle and crossing the line unopposed.

But Toulouse hit back straight away with Ahki making the initial break on the left, Ramos taking the ball at pace through the middle and Dimitri Delibes scoring in the right corner.

The outcome of the match might have been different if the referee had sent Ahki off but the Tongan breathed a big sigh of relief when he was only shown a yellow card.

The injury delay resulted in a scrappy few minutes before Toulouse ran in a third try just before the break. France captain Dupont and Scotland international Blair Kinghorn started a flowing move, Delibes ran past Quins’ desperate defence and played in hooker Peato Mauvaka to dive over.

Quins’ forwards dug deep to score their second just before half-time. James Chisholm, playing his first match of the season after recovering from injury, and skipper Alex Dombrandt did the hard yards to give replacement second row Herbst the chance to cut the deficit to 21-12.

Toulouse run in four second-half tries

Any hopes of a second-half turnaround disappeared when Toulouse came out flying with an early bonus-point try from wing Matthis Lebel following a well-worked line-out move.

Herbst crossed the line again for the hosts, but Toulouse scored a stunning try moments later.

Dupont weaved his way up the pitch, holding off a Marcus Smith challenge, and then a wonderful offload from second row Emmanuel Meafou enabled Barassi to sprint on to the ball and score his second try.

With Quins becoming ragged, Toulouse stole a line-out that ended with replacement prop Rodrigue Neti powering over for his side’s sixth try before fly-half Ramos completed the rout.

Harlequins will aim to get their campaign back on track when they travel to Cardiff in round three in January, while Toulouse play Ulster.

Line-ups

Harlequins: Green; David, Joseph, Esterhuizen, Murley; Smith, Porter; Marler, Walker, Collier, Launchbury, Lamb, Chisholm, Evans, Dombrandt (capt).

Replacements: Jibulu, Baxter, Lewis, Herbst, Cunningham-South, Care, Evans, Beard.

Toulouse: Kinghorn; Delibes, Barassi, Ahki, Lebel; Ramos, Dupont (capt); Baille, Mauvaka, Laulala, Arnold, Meafou, Cros, Jelonch, Roumat.

Replacements: Cramont, Neti, Ainu’u, Faasalele, Placines, Germain, Costes, Chocobares.

Referee: Chris Busby (Ire)

TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ire)

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