Ospreys beat Toulouse in Heineken Cup
ELI Walker scorched across for a second-half try as the Ospreys defeated four-times European champions Toulouse 17-6 in Swansea.
The hard-earned triumph maintained the region’s proud record of never having lost a Heineken Cup tie at the Liberty Stadium against a French club.
Steve Tandy’s side were superb, with Justin Tipuric, Kahn Fotuali’i, Eli Walker and Dan Biggar outstanding, as the Welsh region denied Toulouse even a bonus point.
Walker’s score came midway through the second half after good work from Lloyd Peers, Ashley Beck and Dan Biggar, the flying wing’s pace doing the rest.
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Toulouse struggled to handle Walker’s lightning speed but they didn’t help themselves by making a surfeit of errors, not least at the end when Luke Burgess and Vincent Clerc contrived to mess up a clear overlap.
The Ospreys were down to 14 men at that point, after losing Adam Jones to the sin bin.
But they deserved their win. They didn’t stop tackling all game and had in Walker a player who gave them a cutting edge.
The win keeps alive their slim hopes of qualifying from Pool 2.
Biggar chipped in with 12 points, while Jean-Marc Doussain supplied Toulouse’s points.
The region had turned round 9-6 ahead but would have been cursing that their lead wasn’t greater.
They dominated territory and possession, with Dan Biggar repeatedly turning Toulouse with his boot, forcing the French to put in a big defensive shift.
But despite all the ball they won, the Ospreys had difficulty getting over the gain-line, with their ball-carriers repeatedly being sent backwards by uncompromising tackling from the vistiors.
The best try-scoring chance came when a short-range line-out opened up invitingly for Ryan Jones, but the flanker seemed to hesitate and the chance was lost.
Toulouse had Patricio Albacete yellow-carded for raking Ian Gough, but the Ospreys found it tough to take advantage.
They edged 9-3 ahead through two penalties and a drop-goal from Dan Biggar against a penalty from Jean-Marc Doussain before the Toulouse fly-half cut the deficit with a dropped-goal himself just before half-time.
When Walker fizzed across in the second half the Ospreys had real momentum – and they almost added another try but Gael Fickou kicked the ball out of Ashley Beck’s hands as he tried to touch down.
But the region were not to be denied.
In front of a crowd of 10,110 they had the skill, courage and character to hold on and strike a blow for Welsh rugby after a period of bad news at every turn.