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Page last updated at 13:31 GMT, Saturday, 26 April 2008 14:31 UK

Heineken Cup as it happened


London Irish 15-21 Toulouse


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By Ben Dirs

80 mins: FULL TIME London Irish 15-21 Toulouse
Nine phases of play for Irish come to nothing and even when they win a penalty, they are unable to kick to touch with 80 minutes up. Geraghty tries a long pass, Donguy just misses the intercept, and the final whistle blows. Manful effort from The Exiles, and they came so close. In the end, it was Toulouse's experience and ability to control the flow of the match that won through - but it was Irish's individuals who shone, with wingers Ojo and Tagicakibau standout performers. A very tight affair, London Irish, players and fans will be choked - as Topsey Ojo has just pointed out, Toulouse were far from at the top of their game, and it was there to be won.

78 mins: Like a 7s match now, London Irish striving to keep the ball alive, and Leguizamon steps off his right foot and accelerates clear. Nice moves from the Argentina number eight.

76 mins: Elissalde attempts a cross-field kick to Donguy, but the ball runs into touch. London Irish's lineout hasn't been much cop today, however, and Paice misses his jumpers again. Heymans ends up with the ball in his own 22 and shows some class at last, swerving past two men and carrying the ball 30 yards.

73 mins: Geraghty punches straight through the Toulouse midfield and looks to be home free. He thinks about offloading to Tagicakibau, but, seeing that Medard would have swallowed him, holds onto it. Irish have a few more phases, with Toulouse stretched, but the move breaks down when hooker Paice attempts to grubber through and Toulouse win the penalty and clear. Irish's last chance? We'll see...

71 mins: London Irish keeping the ball alive and striving for an opening, but Toulouse's defence is swarming. Geraghty's kick just misses touch, and Medard fills his boots, sending a left-footed clearance into touch deep inside the Irish half.

66 mins: Magnificent take by skipper Casey from the restart. Bit of confusion from Irish, Leguizamon going right from the base of the scrum and finding himself isolated. Donguy puts in the big hit and Toulouse win the penalty and kick for territory. Toulouse have a sniff down the blind-side, but Bouilhou shells Elissalde's pass. Off goes Pelous, who's had a very mixed game. Plenty of gallop, but should have made two tries.

64 mins: Dusautoir is on for Toulouse. A brave effort from the France flanker, whose father passed away this week. Penalty for Irish, just inside Toulouse's half, but Hewat's fine effort drifts just wide of the right upright.

62 mins: Ojo very nearly makes things interesting. Receiving the ball inside his own half, he drifts outside the hapless Jauzion in midfield and races clear. He puts in a Fijian hitch-kick to wriggle free of another tackle before offloading to Tagicakibau, but Byron Kelleher appears from nowhere and bundles the left-winger into touch. The replay shows Medard did in fact get a tap-tackle in on Ojo, which slowed him up and allowed the Kiwi scrum-half to get across.

58 mins: A big - and illegal - hit from Pelous on Leguizamon before Richards darts down the left flank and is bundled into touch. Tagicakibau receives the ball out wide, but this time is unable to shrug off the tackle of Heymans and Toulouse win the lineout.

56 mins: Leguizamon is on for Murphy at number eight. Nice from Elissalde, gliding past a couple of despairing tackles before sending it wide to Jauzion. Jauzion should have straightened and given, but opts for the kick which comes to nothing.

53 mins: Toulouse skipper Pelous drops another clanger. Fine break from the lock, selling Rautenbach the dummy and scything through, but he fails to spot Bouilhou on his right and runs back into a gaggle of defenders. That could have been toast for London Irish.

51 mins: PENALTY London Irish 15-21 Toulouse Ojo holding onto the ball after running into a Toulouse cul-de-sac and Elissalde gratefully accepts the penalty, slotting over from 10 metres in from the left touchline. Tagicakibau's early second-half try wiped out in the blink of an eye.

48 mins: PENALTY London Irish 15-18 Toulouse
Hands in the ruck from London Irish and Elissalde has a chance to give Toulouse the lead again. No dramas, the fly-half slotting the three points from straight in front of the posts, despite his heavily bandaged right thigh.

44 mins: TRY London Irish 15-15 Toulouse
A try from nothing and Irish are right back in it. Geraghty swings it left and nothing seems to be on when winger Tagicakibau receives the ball while hugging the touchline. However, he shrugs off a pathetic tackle from Heymans before wriggling free of Medard and scorching over in the left corner. Tremendous adventure, poor defence, game on. Let's see how Toulouse react.

41 mins: One change at half-time - Lea'aetoa on for Murphy in the front row for Irish. Not clinical enough from Geraghty, slicing his kick out on the full.

"Toulouse too hot to handle towards the end of the half. Sadly they look up for it and will pull away in the second half."
Slater on 606

HALF-TIME: London Irish 10-15 Toulouse
That's the half-time whistle and London Irish will have to dig very deep in the second half to stave off this Toulouse onslaught and make a game of it. However, they're still very much in the mix, despite those two pre-interval blows, and an early score would do their confidence wonders. They were actually on top for much of that first half, but when Toulouse did hit their straps towards the end of the half, they looked ominously good.

38 mins: TRY London Irish 10-13 Toulouse
Double whammy from Toulouse before half-time. Nyanga rises highest at the lineout and creates the platform before hooker Servat peels from the back of the maul and burrows over. Elissalde kicks the conversion and that's a nasty little combination for Irish to have to soak up at half-time.

37 mins: Toulouse really have their dander up now with half-time approaching. Jauzion starting to stamp his class on the match and stretch the Irish backs. Ahotaelio, however, throws a ragged pass and another promising move breaks down.

34 mins: TRY London Irish 10-8 Toulouse
Toulouse make amends for Pelous's clanger. Elissalde with the miss pass before Kelleher floats it wide. Medard flips to Ahotaeilo who shows tremendous strength and sense of geography to cut back from the right touchline and beat the tackle of Tagicakibau. Elissalde, however, misses the extras.

32 mins: Toulouse looking very ragged at the moment - Servat's lineout throw goes awry, but the French side manage to make something of it. Jauzion takes a good line, punches a hole and offloads, but Irish are able to break up the move before it becomes too menacing.

30 mins: Toulouse have clearly been wobbled by that Ojo try and Sowerby knocks on at the rear of the scrum. Hewat, who has a jackhammer of a right boot, clears his lines. Heymans collects and beats two men before Toulouse blow a clear-cut try. Skipper Pelous spots the overlap on the left, but fails to spot Heymans coming up on his shoulder and sends out a wild pass, which Donguy is only able to shin into touch. That could be a big moment looking back.

26 mins: A lengthy exchange of kicks before Richards opens things up with a chip and go. Toulouse, however, win a penalty and Elissalde pumps the ball deep into Irish territory.

22 mins: Toulouse come roaring back from the restart, but Irish turn the ball over. However, Danaher is penalised for a high tackle on Servat - but Elissalde, like a weekend hacker duffing a mid-iron approach, shanks his penalty attempt low and wide.

20 mins: TRY London Irish 10-3 Toulouse
Fabulous try from Topsy Ojo! Very Toulousian work from Irish, keeping the ball alive, before Ojo receives the ball on the left flank, leaves Elissalde for dead with a step off his right peg, before swerving inside a weak tackle from Heymans. Hewat kicks the extras, and that's the try every neutral wanted to see.

17 mins: The Toulouse pack really applying the heat, but Jauzion's not having a great game, flipping a blind pass to no-one in particular, perhaps expecting someone to cut back on the scissors. Irish prop Rautenbach gets a talking to, and what a beast that boy is. He may have been born in Bethlehem, South Africa, but he looks more like Joseph and Mary's donkey than Jesus. No-one tell him I said that.

15 mins: PENALTY London Irish 3-3 Toulouse
Toulouse players come in from the side and Hewat has a chance to level from in front of the posts. Easy does it from the Australian full-back and Irish are back on terms.

11 mins: PENALTY London Irish 0-3 Toulouse
Kennedy goes offside at the ruck and Elissalde pings over the first points of the match, five metres in from the left touchline.

9 mins: Toulouse have an overlap on the left, but Elissalde opts for the grubber. Ojo covers well, stooping in front of Donguy and bringing the ball clear. Bad decision that from the Toulouse fly-half.

8 mins: Half-break from Hewat coming into the line, but Toulouse turn the ball over and Kelleher drops the ball into space for an Irish lineout deep in their own half.

5 mins: Kennedy solid in the lineout so far, and he wants to be. Medard chases his own lobbed kick, but hooker Paice fields well and rumbles clear of his own try-line.

2 mins: Jauzion showing signs of age, as part-time centre Richards dummies and cuts inside him. Very bright start from the English side.

1 min: London Irish kick-off and Toulouse number eight Sowerby steps over the line after receiving. Irish have the first sniff of a try, Geraghty swinging it right and Ojo very nearly touching down after a chip-through from full-back Hewat. Great cover from Donguy, however, who touches down first.

1459: Here come the teams, and there's plenty of noise as they make their way onto the field of play. Nowhere near a full house at Twickers, much of the top deck spectator-free.

1451: Could fatigue play a part in the outcome of today's match? French professionals play more games in a season than their English counterparts and that could be an issue. Some question marks over Geraghty at fly-half - will he be exposed by opposite number Elissalde at Twickenham? Very much a home game for London Irish at Twickenham - the place has gone green, and that could also be a factor.

1441: News in from the wires that Dusautoir is in fact on the bench - he has replaced reserve back Valentin Courrent, who failed a late fitness test. Dusautoir had not been expected to play any part in this match following the death of his father earlier this week and a spot of concussion. Not a bad man to call upon in the closing stages.

1436: It's going to be a big ask for the London Irish defence this afternoon - Toulouse were typically dashing in defeating the Blues in their quarter-final and Irish's back-row will need to suffocate Elissalde at fly-half and stop the French backs from running. Irish, obviously, like to chuck it about themselves and we could be in for a very open game. As I've mentioned, no Mike Catt for Irish today - how big a loss will he be? His absence, however, gives Shane Geraghty a big chance to shine at 10.

1430: No Vincent Clerc and Thierry Dusautoir for Toulouse today, and they could be big losses. Fine player, Dusautoir, but he buried his father this week and is also suffering from concussion.

1400: Afternoon everybody. A huge opportunity for London Irish at Twickenham today, a first Heineken Cup final at stake. One of the key questions is, can their forwards match their French counterparts over 80 minutes? No Dusautoir for Toulouse, but the three-time champions still have international experience in the pack in bunches. Their half-back pairing of Byron Kelleher and Jean-Baptiste Elissalde will be pivotal - will they be able to unleash the likes of Jauzion and Heymans outside them? Fly-half Shane Geraghty has the task of unlocking his three-quarters, while Peter Richards, in the absence of Mike Catt, swaps his usual position of scrum-half for outside centre.

London Irish: Hewat, Ojo, Richards, Mapusua, Tagicakibau, Geraghty, Hodgson, D. Murphy, Paice, Rautembach, Kennedy, Casey, Danaher, S. Armitage, P. Murphy. Replacements: Lea'aetoa, Mackie, Hudson, Thorpe, Leguizamon, Mordt, Hickey.

Toulouse: Heymans, Medard, Ahotaeiloa, Jauzion, Donguy, Elissalde, Kelleher, Human, Servat, Perugini, Pelous, Albacete, Di Rollo, Nyanga, Sowerby. Replacements: Vernet-Basualdo, Hasan, Millochlusky, Lamboley, Courrent, Mermoz, Maka.

Referee: Alan Lewis (Ireland)

see also
London Irish 15-21 Toulouse
26 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union
Smith hits out at referee Lewis
26 Apr 08 |  London Irish
London Irish 24-26 Toulouse
13 Jan 07 |  London Irish
Toulouse 37-17 London Irish
29 Oct 06 |  London Irish

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