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Report | Toulouse 52 Cardiff 7

First Team News | 9th December 2023

Kicking off the Investec Champions Cup at Stade Ernest Wallon was always going to be a tough start and five-time winners Toulouse displayed their quality against a spirited Cardiff.

The French giants crossed for seven tries in all, including two from Scotland full-back Blair Kinghorn on his debut, with fly-half Thomas Ramos pulling the strings expertly in the rain.

However, the visitors, with a number of youngsters on board, contributed to the contest and were a touch unfortunate not to add to their one touchdown from No 8 Mackenzie Martin.

They will now turn their attention to their second European fixture, with English Premiership high-flyers Bath the opponents at the Arms Park next Saturday. 

Matt Sherratt’s team made a bold start in this afternoon’s repeat of the very first European Cup final way back in January 1996.

They immediately demonstrated their positive intent by sending a kickable penalty into the corner after a fine piece of jackal work from Willis Halaholo in the opening minute.

From the resulting lineout, they went through multiple phases in the opposition 22, probing away, but weren’t quite able to find a way through.

It was then over to Toulouse to show their attacking potency as they claimed a couple of early tries.

First, slick interpassing saw Matthis Lebel worked over in the left corner and the winger then went from scoring to giving the scoring pass as he put Aussie lock Richie Arnold in following a break from Ramos, who converted both scores from wide out before adding a penalty.

Cardiff were having chances of their own, with hooker Efan Daniel just held up over the line off a tap penalty, and on 23 minutes their efforts were rewarded.

It was a moment to remember for the 20-year-old Mackenzie Martin who came round the corner at a close-range ruck and drove through Tongan Test centre Pita Ahki to claim his first try for the region, with Tinus de Beer converting.

However, Toulouse swiftly responded with a score sparked by influential fly-half Ramos, who faked to kick before slicing through, with Antoine Dupont acting as the link to hand Kinghorn a try on his debut following his move from Edinburgh.

Cardiff continued to play their part on the attacking front and twice came close, with Josh Adams denied by the covering Dupont after kicking ahead and Shane Lewis-Hughes then being knocked back as he drove for the line following a scything break from wing Mason Grady.

But just before the break they were reduced to 14 men when Halaholo was yellow carded for going off his feet near his own line and Toulouse immediately capitalised with flanker Anthony Jelonch diving over off a neat tap penalty.

That bonus point try made it 31-7 at half-time and the hosts extended their lead on the resumption with wing Arthur Retiere sliding over after bursting through in midfield.

Amid a raft of changes on both sides, they had to wait until the 70th minute for their next try when replacement back row Alban Placines forced his way over.

Cardiff then had one more chance to add to their account when sub scrum-half Ellis Bevan dummied his way through and chipped ahead, only for the cover to put the ball safe, with the subsequent encampment on the home line also being repelled.

Instead, it was Toulouse who had the last word in the final play with Kinghorn going over in the left-hand corner to bring up the half century.