Harlequins throw it away

Harlequins 19 Toulouse 23

Harlequins 19 Toulouse 23

Harlequins Heineken Cup campaign is hanging by a thread after they squandered a 14-0 half-time lead at home to Toulouse.

Toulouse, second best for 40 minutes, go top of Pool Five after a bold fightback but Quins will be haunted by wasting chances to win it in the final quarter.

Toulouse loosehead Jean-Baptise Poux staggered off after only two minutes following a shuddering tackle on Jim Evans and was replaced by Daan Human.

Harlequins saw promising attacks snuffed out by Toulouse captain Thierry Dusautoir before taking the lead through a penalty from Nick Evans.

Will Skinner had been injured in the build up to the penalty and limped out of the game in the 10th minute, replaced by Tom Guest.

Toulouse’s problems increased when flanker Yannick Nyanga left the field on a stretcher during the first quarter after suffering a leg injury. He was replaced by Jean Bouilhou.

Evans added a second penalty on 22 minutes and the Twickenham Stoop exploded six minutes later when Quins scored a superb try.

Guest won the ball at the back of a lineout and broke upfield, Evans then fed Gonzalo Tiesi and when the ball was switched back infield, Evans’ accurate flat pass found Ugo Monye.

The England wing took off, swerved outside Jean-Baptiste Elissalde’s desperate tackle and raced home on the right.

Evans hit a post with his conversion attempt but made amends five minutes later, arrowing home a penalty as Toulouse continued to struggle.

It took the visitors 39 minutes to launch a genuine attack but, after seven passes, a fumbled catch brought a one-sided half to an end.

A more focused Toulouse hauled themselves back into the game five minutes after the break.

Referee Alain Rolland missed a blatant forward pass, it bounced high when pumped forward and after Maxime Medard failed to gather it in the air, Monye missed the bounce to allow wing Yves Donguy to swoop and score between the posts.

Elissalde converted and before Quins could regroup, Toulouse thundered back deep into home territory and Shaun Sowerby was shunted over on the right. Elissalde’s conversion brought the scores level after only 49 minutes.

Harlequins produced the ideal riposte with Mike Brown’s excellent kick in behind the defence finished off by Monye on the left.

Elissalde reduced the arrears once more with a 59th-minute penalty and Toulouse took the lead for the first time three minutes later, this time Frederic Michalak firing over a penalty.

Quins should have regained control but Brown and Guest failed to turn two excellent scoring opportunities into points by failing to pass the ball with Toulouse in retreat.

Toulouse could have sealed things minutes later but Michalak struck a penalty wide and then hit the bar with an audacious long-range drop-goal attempt.

But Florian Fritz made sure with a 40-metre penalty 90 seconds from time.

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