Sport’s Kit Shepard reports on Wasps’s defeat to Toulouse at the Ricoh Arena
Wasps’ Heineken Champions Cup campaign looks to be all but over after last night’s defeat to Toulouse at the Ricoh Arena, with poor defence in key moments costing the home side against the impressive French outfit.
After a heavy loss at reigning European champions Leinster and a draw against fellow Premiership side Bath, this encounter was effectively a must-win for Wasps while Toulouse, who came into the game with two wins out of two in pool 1, were looking to take a significant step towards the knockout stages.
Early pressure forced the ball over the Toulouse try-line but with it held up, the hosts were forced to settle for a kick at goal, which Lima Sopoaga duly converted to give them a 3-0 lead.
However, the visitors responded emphatically just ten minutes later, with diminutive winger Cheslin Kolbe barreling through the Wasps line to score a superb try on the first phase from his own half. While this was a superb run from the South African international, questions will be asked over the Wasps’ defence, as routine first-up tackles were missed to allow Kolbe the make his break.
There was more bad news for Dai Young’s men before the end of the opening quarter, as number eight Nathan Hughes limped off with what appeared to be a serious hip injury. After a long-range penalty from skipper Elliot Daly restored Wasps’ lead, a pair of Thomas Ramos’ strikes put Toulouse back ahead 6-11, but it would be the home side who went into the break in front. A dangerous tackle from Toulouse prop Maks Van Dyk saw him sent to the sin bin, and Wasps capitalised on the man advantage immediately, with Will Rowlands touching down to give them a 13-11 lead at halftime.
Another Ramos penalty put them back in front, and when Wasps once again missed straightforward tackles on the first phase, Sofiane Guitoune was able to break through and score his side’s second try, stretching the lead to eight points with under half an hour to play.
In an almost uncharacteristic manner for a French team away from home, Toulouse successfully closed out the match with relative ease. Another Daly penalty briefly put Wasps back in striking distance but Ramos, who was almost perfect from the kicking tee, responded with another penalty. Despite a second Toulouse yellow card, this time for a Louis-Benoît Madaule stamp, they were able to fend off Wasps’ late push for a losing bonus point to secure a 16-24 win.
The result keeps Toulouse at the top of the pool while the winless Wasps, who will surely be practising one-on-one tackles on Monday morning, sit bottom at the group’s halfway stage. They will surely have to win all three of their remaining games to progress and, considering this includes a trip to Toulouse and the visit of Leinster, this is not looking likely.