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Page last updated at 16:20 GMT, Saturday, 13 December 2008

Dragons 13-26 Toulouse

Dragons (10) 13
Tries: R Thomas Cons: Arlidge Pens: Arlidge 2

Toulouse (16) 26
Tries: Medard 2, Heymans Con: Skrela Pens: Michalak 2 Drop-goal: Michalak

Colin Charvis is tackled by Toulouse's Thierry Dusautoir and Shaun Sowerby
Veteran Colin Charvis gets the ball away under pressure against Toulouse

Last season's beaten finalists Toulouse took another step towards this season's Heineken Cup quarter-finals with victory at Rodney Parade.

The French club followed up their 26-7 win in the first of their back-to-back encounters with triumph on Welsh soil.

The visitors' tries came from Maxime Medard (2) and Cedric Heymans with Frederick Michalak and David Skrela's boots doing the rest.

Rhys Thomas got the hosts' try and James Arlidge the rest of their points.

Toulouse's victory piled the pressure on rivals Bath. The three-time European champions eased seven points clear in Pool 5 - closest challengers Bath visit Glasgow on Sunday - after subduing the spirited hosts.

Tries during the opening flurries of each half by wings Medard and Heymans emphasised a gulf in class, although Toulouse still had to dig deep.

Michalak kicked a drop-goal and two penalties that underlined early Toulouse dominance, while Skrela converted Medard's fourth-minute touchdown, yet the Dragons gave it their best shot.

Prop Rhys Thomas scored a try six minutes before the break, with fly-half Arlidge booting eight points, but Toulouse were always capable of moving up a gear when it mattered.

Medard finished off the Welsh side by claiming his second try after 54 minutes and then it was merely a question of whether or not Toulouse would claim a bonus point.

The fact they failed owed everything to a Dragons pack that worked itself to a standstill, denying Toulouse one final opportunity.

The unbeaten group leaders will feel satisfied at a job well done despite the lack of a bonus point as they left the Dragons reflecting on pool stage elimination two games inside the distance.

The Dragons had endured a difficult week after their former Northampton centre Marc Stcherbina suffered a serious neck injury during the previous weekend's Saturday's defeat.

Stcherbina, who underwent surgery as a result, is now in a Bristol hospital after returning home from France by air ambulance on Thursday.

He was replaced at inside centre by Ashley Smith. Toulouse, meanwhile, paraded their traditional galaxy of international stars as they targeted a fourth successive group victory in the quest for yet another Heineken Cup quarter-final appearance.

Toulouse took less than four minutes to cut the Dragons' defence open as Skrela's floated pass found Medard, who nonchalantly kicked ahead and gathered a kind bounce.

Skrela converted in his final act before going off injured after being on the receiving end of Dragons number eight Joe Bearman's crunching tackle.

Michalak merely took up the baton from Skrela though, booting two penalties and a drop-goal during a 15-minute spell that saw Toulouse effortlessly move 16-0 ahead.

The Dragons were in danger of suffering a thumping defeat, yet their response stirred the Rodney Parade faithful and they trooped off at half-time firmly back in contention.

Bearman's lineout catch and pass created sufficient space for Thomas to crash over and Arlidge's conversion and penalty slashed the interval deficit to just six points.

But Heymans and Medard - two of the European game's deadliest finishers - struck during a third quarter when Toulouse seemed capable of just flicking a switch when they needed to.

Referee Alain Rolland lectured rival captains Tom Willis and Yannick Jauzion following a late dust-up involving several players, but he opted against brandishing any cards, Toulouse having inflicted their punishment where it mattered most - on the scoreboard.

Newport-Gwent Dragons: Tovey, Wyatt, Sidey, Smith, Selley, Arlidge, W Evans, Black, Willis, R Thomas, A Jones, Charteris, MacDonald, Charvis, Bearman. Replacements: Gomer-Davies for Selley (53), R Lewis for W Evans (59), S Jones for Willis (73), Robinson for R. Thomas (73), Lydiate for A Jones (63), Ringer for Charvis (59).
Not Used: Dollman.

Toulouse: Poitrenaud, Medard, Fritz, Jauzion, Heymans, Skrela, Kelleher, Poux, Servat, Lecouls, Pelous, Albacete, Nyanga, Dusatoir, Sowerby. Replacements: Du Toit for Medard (75), Michalak for Skrela (4), Human for Poux (44), Lacombe for Servat (72), Perugini for Lecouls (50), Lamboley for Pelous (65), Bouihlou for Nyanga (55).

Att: 6,108

Ref: Alain Rolland (Ireland).

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see also
Toulouse 26-7 Dragons
06 Dec 08 |  Rugby Union
Heineken Cup 2008/9
17 Jul 08 |  Rugby Union

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