Toulouse 26 Newport Gwent Dragons 7
Toulouse secured a third successive win in Pool Five of the Heineken Cup but the game was marred by a serious-looking injury to Newport Gwent Dragons’ centre Marc Stcherbina.
Yannick Jauzion’s first-half try was added to by Clement Poitrenaud, Maxime Medard and Florian Fritz after the interval to seal an emphatic triumph.
The three-time champions blew away the Welsh visitors at the Stade Earnest Wallon but there were concerns over Stcherbina, who was carried off with a suspected neck injury.
The match was delayed for 10 minutes as the former Cardiff Blues centre lay motionless on the ground after the incident in the 49th minute.
There were injury worries before the tie but Dragons’ player/coach Colin Charvis passed a late fitness test on a persistent knee problem while the hosts were forced into a late change when former France lock Fabien Pelous pulled out with a back injury.
The French giants, labelled the Real Madrid of European rugby, had won their last 10 games in all competitions including the first two rounds of the Heineken Cup.
But the Dragons arrived in the south of France in confident mood after beating Glasgow Warriors before picking up a valuable losing bonus-point at English high-flyers Bath.
The sides were greeted by December sunshine following a week of rain and the hosts looked intent on capitalising on the dry weather in the early stages.
Jauzion combined with Poitrenaud, who fed Cedric Heymans but the visitors’ defence held firm.
The warning signs were evident and the hosts rammed home their advantage in the 12th minute when centre Jauzion pounced to dive on Frederic Michalak’s kick through for the first try.
Michalak, on his first European appearance of the season, converted to cement a bright start for the Frenchmen.
The dynamic fly-half missed the chance to extend the lead with three missed penalties but the hosts found themselves a player to the good when Dragons wing Richard Fussell was sin-binned for a high tackle on Medard.
Toulouse failed to take advantage of the extra man before play was stopped for Stcherbina’s injury.
The break in play affected the visitors as the Dragons conceded a second try within a minute when Poitrenaud touched down from Michalak’s clever kick through.
Michalak converted and the floodgates began to open as Medard scored the third try in the 58th minute following a neat passing move involving Jauzion, Heymans and Poitrenaud as Toulouse hunted down the bonus point.
They grabbed the bonus point when backs replacement Fritz crossed from Michalak’s pass in the 65th minute.
But the Dragons finished strongly and Steve Jones’ late consolation try in injury-time was just reward for a superb forward effort.