McGeechan defends decision to play it safe

Wasps 15 Toulouse 15

The 2004 Heineken Cup winners had full Mark van Gisbergen to thank for rescuing them with his fifth successful penalty eight minutes into injury-time after an intense Causeway Stadium clash.

Toulouse scored tries through full-back Gareth Thomas and wing Vincent Clerc, while Frederic Michalak dropped a goal and Jean-Baptiste Elissalde landed a conversion as the French giants trooped off in a far happier state of mind than their hosts.

Wasps could have chosen an attacking, short-range scrum instead, but they took the penalty option after animated discussions between players and McGeechan’s touchline coaching team.

“The group, as it stands now, is all to play for, but had Toulouse been on nine points after today and us on one, there would have been nothing to play for,” said rugby director McGeechan.

“We called it from the touchline. There were no gimmees out there today, so you take what’s on offer, whether it is tries or penalties.”

Wasps skipper Lawrence Dallaglio had been substituted by the time his team gained their late chance, and Dallaglio believes only time will tell whether or not it was the right call.

“It was one of those 50-50 calls,” said Dallaglio. “But the nature of this competition is such, that you have got to try and get something out of the game.

“I think it was the right call. We will take the two points and try and get whatever we can from the other pool games.”

Wasps coach Shaun Edwards questioned the opening Toulouse try, claiming scrum-half Elissalde was seven yards ahead of the mark when he took a quick penalty that resulted in Wales full-back Thomas touching down.

But Edwards praised van Gisbergen’s composure after he rounded off a mixed individual display with the vital fifth penalty.

“It was a massive pressure kick at the end,” said Edwards. “But Mark nailed it.”

Lock Simon Shaw, meanwhile, gave England head coach Andy Robinson an injury scare less than a fortnight before the world champions open their autumn Test series by tackling Australia at Twickenham.

Shaw has been troubled by a back problem, and he lasted only 40 minutes before being replaced by George Skivington.

Toulouse, despite being denied victory in the final throes of an intense, if unspectacular, clash, remain red-hot favourites to top Pool Six and march on towards yet another quarter-final appearance.

But flanker Jean Bouilhou said: “It’s a bad dream, just like the way we lost to Wasps as the very end of the 2004 Heineken Cup final at Twickenham.”

WASPS: van Gisbergen, Sackey, Lewsey, Abbott, Voyce, King, M. Dawson, Payne, Ibanez, J. Dawson, Shaw, R. Birkett, Hart, O’Connor, Dallaglio.

Replacements: Bracken for M. Dawson (70), Skivington for Shaw (40), Rees for Dallaglio (72).

TOULOUSE: Thomas, Clerc, Jauzion, Fritz, Heymans, Michalak, Elissalde, Poux, Bru, Hassanein, Brennan, Pelous, Bouihlou, I. Maka, F. Maka.

Replacements: Poitrenaud for Clerc (60), Dubois for Elissalde (76), Menkarska for Poux (12), Millochlusky for Pelous (53), Nyanga for I. Maka (70).

Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland).

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