Convincing win for Toulouse

Toulouse 33 Harlequins 21

Toulouse 33 Harlequins 21

Toulouse have qualified for the Heineken Cup quarter-finals following a convincing bonus-point win over Harlequins

Maximum points for the French side means Pool Five rivals Cardiff Blues and Sale Sharks now lie six points behind the three-time champions with just one round of matches to go.

Florian Fritz bagged the opening try for the hosts before second-half tries from Jean Bouilhou, Cedric Heymans and Maxime Medard eased Guy Noves’ side to victory and the knock-out stages at the Stade Ernest-Wallon.

Mike Brown and Ugo Monye (2) crossed for the visitors who suffered their fifth-successive defeat of this year’s competition.

But it is the seventh season out of eight that the French giants have reached the last eight of Europe’s premier competition.

The home side began brightly but centre Fritz missed a fifth-minute penalty from the halfway line and fly-half Jean Baptiste-Elissalde saw his drop goal attempt fly to the left of the posts.

Quins weathered the early storm and, against the run of play, Nick Evans also wasted a golden opportunity to break the deadlock but the Kiwi saw his long-range penalty fall short.

Elissalde missed a second penalty before a third opportunity arose in the 18th minute when Welsh referee Nigel Owens penalised Quins for offside.

Toulouse captain Thierry Dusautoir signalled for Elissalde to kick for goal and finally the hosts were up and running as the ball flew through the uprights.

But the Guinness Premiership outfit hit back in the 23rd minute with the opening try.

A slick handling move put lock James Percival through a gap and although his pass looked forward, full-back Brown was able to score under the posts with consummate ease.

Evans converted but the joy was to be short-lived for the visitors.

Elissalde booted home two penalties in quick succession to take the lead for the first time before Toulouse struck with their first try of the contest.

Heymans escaped the attention of Quins wings Monye and David Strettle and his reverse pass found Fritz who sauntered under the posts. Elissalde converted for a commanding 16-7 interval lead.

Toulouse set out after the restart with an attacking intent in a bid to achieve maximum points.

And it was not long before the second try came through flanker Bouilhou. Elissalde made the break in midfield and after neat support play by replacement Gregory Lamboley and Dusautoir, Bouilhou added the finishing touch.

Quins’ misery was further compounded when prop Ceri Jones was yellow-carded for a clear trip on Elissalde.

Immediately, Toulouse capitalised on the numerical advantage and Heymans added a third when the left wing cruised over in the left corner.

Then full-back Medard confirmed the home side’s place in the quarter-finals with the fourth score in the 65th minute, securing the bonus point.

British and Irish Lions wing Monye scored a late consolation for Quins with a superb solo effort and his efforts were rewarded by the applause of the home supporters.

And the England international added his second from close-range with the last play of the game to make for a more respectable scoreline.

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