Radio Exe Match Report: Toulouse 64 – 26 Exeter Chiefs

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A promising Exeter Chiefs squad were defeated in a confronting second half by Toulouse at Stade Ernest Wallon in the last game of the Investec Champions Cup quarter-final weekend.

An incredibly physical first half kicked off in front of a rowdy home crowd. Chiefs took the first points of the day when Henry Slade elected to go for the posts with an early penalty just five metres out.

Toulouse responded by snaring the first try, however. Breaking down the far wing at pace created a two-on-one exchange for the hosts against Josh Hodge. A pass inside faked the Chiefs full back and Roman Ntamack was in for the try which Blair Kinghorn then converted.

Slade secured a second penalty shortly after as Toulouse were called offside at the breakdown. With a point in it, Chiefs were handed a man advantage on 17 minutes when hooker Peato Mauvaka was sent from the field with a yellow card for cynical play at the ruck just inches from his own line.

Using their trusty method of the quick tap-and-go, Chiefs executed a move straight off the training field to send Ethan Roots crashing over for a try which Slade converted.

Toulouse followed Slade’s early tactic when they elected to go for a shot at goal having received a penalty five metres inside the Chiefs half. The long range of Kinghorn’s boot made it a three-point game.

As the half hour mark approached, Slade added a further three points to his tally when Toulouse infringed at the breakdown.

However, the half-time lead was to be held by the home side when Jack Willis fended off Harvey Skinner 10 metres from the Exeter line for a clean run-in to the try on 33 minutes played. With Kinghorn’s conversion, Toulouse gained the narrowest of leads – a single point – as the teams ran back into the changing rooms for the break.

Half-time: Toulouse 17 – 16 Chiefs

Chiefs struck first in the second half when Slade split the uprights cleanly with a penalty kick to take the Exeter men back in front on the scoreboard.

Unfortunately, Toulouse then went on a prolonged attacking spell. Starting on the 49th minute with a try from Kinghorn who battled his way through contact on the line, wrapped up in the arms of three Chiefs defenders. He then converted his own score.

Pita Ahki was the next on the scoresheet for Toulouse. Carving a clean line through the Chiefs defence, the centre went over underneath the posts to give Kinghorn the simple conversion.

The Scot soon crossed for his second of the day. Frantic ball going through the hands of Toulouse drew in the Chiefs defenders, making room for a pass out to the full back on the wing. He ran in and then converted the score.

In an almost identical phase of play to that, the French side scored their next through star scrum half Antoine Dupont just shy of an hour played. With Thomas Ramos on in place of Kinghorn, the replacement converted the try.

Chiefs clawed a score back minutes later. Fresh on the field, Zack Wimbush put a drive into his legs to make vital yards in the tackle a foot short of Toulouse’s line before stretching out a long limb to dot down the score. Slade then added the two points.

The fight was present from Chiefs throughout the whole closing quarter of the encounter, however, slick work from Toulouse saw them just one step ahead of Rob Baxter’s men as they scored three more tries – from Juan Cruz Mallia twice and Ahki for another – with two of the three converted by Ramos.

And so, the French giants were the victors and progress to the Investec Champions Cup semi-final. However, the day will surely prove to be integral to the development of this emerging Chiefs squad.

Full-time: Toulouse 64 – 26 Chiefs

Toulouse: B Kinghorn; JC Mallia, P Costes, P Ahki, M Lebel; R Ntamack, A Dupont; C Baille, P Mauvaka, D Aldegheri, R Arnold, E Meafou, J Willis, F Cros, A Roumat.

Replacements: Marchand, Neti, Merkler, Flament, Brennan, Graou, Ramos, Chocobares

Tries: Ntamack, Willis, Kinghorn 2, Ahki, Dupont, Mallia Conversions: Kinghorn 5, Ramos 2 Penalties: Kinghorn

Yellow card: Peato Mauvaka

Chiefs: J Hodge; I Feyi-Waboso, H Slade, O Devoto (Wimbush 51’), O Woodburn; H Skinner, T Cairns (Townsend 51’); S Sio (Southworth 49’), J Yeandle (Innard 57’), E Painter (Street 44’), R Tuima (Pearson 49’), D Jenkins, E Roots, C Tshiunza, R Vintcent (Fisilau 44’).

Tries: Roots, Wimbush Conversions: Slade 2 Penalties: Slade 4

Referee: Chris Busby

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