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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 December 2006, 15:39 GMT
Toulouse 34-41 Scarlets
Scarlets fly-half Stephen Jones celebrates beating Toulouse
Scarlets fly-half Stephen Jones celebrates beating Toulouse

Toulouse 34 (24)
Tries: C Poitrenaud 4.
Cons: V Courrent 4.
Pens: V Courrent.
DG: G Du Toit.

Scarlets 41 (10)
Tries: D James, D Daniel 2, B Davies, N Thomas.
Cons: S Jones 5.
Pens: S Jones 2.

Llanelli Scarlets claimed a famous win in Toulouse, twice coming back from a 21-point deficit to leave the French giants' Heineken Cup hopes in tatters.

Despite Dafydd James' first-half try, a French win seemed assured when Clement Poitrenaud scored his and Toulouse's fourth try early in the second half.

But a thrilling fightback by the Welsh saw Darren Daniel, twice, and Barry Davies cross to bring Scarlets level.

Then a Regan King break sent Nathan Thomas over to seal an incredible win.

All this was underpinned by a fantastic display from Stephen Jones, who returned to Stradey Park this season after two years in the French league with Clermont-Auvergne.

The Wales and Lions fly-half marshalled the Scarlets superbly and added a crucial 16 points with the boot.

Scarlets had never won at the Stade Ernest Wallon, but their bonus-point victory puts them eight points clear of Ulster in second place in Pool Five with two rounds to go.

The Welsh must travel to face the Irish in Ravenhill in the next round in January, but will finish the pool stage with a home match against London Irish.

Toulouse full-back Clement Poitrenaud's four tries were in vain
Toulouse full-back Clement Poitrenaud's four tries were in vain

Jones struck an early penalty for the Scarlets, but that was the high point of the first quarter for the Welsh visitors as Toulouse took control.

The Scarlets fumbled the restart and then went missing in defence as Florian Fritz darted through a huge gap and sent Poitrenaud over, Valentin Courrent adding a simple conversion.

Fly-half Gaffie du Toit clipped a drop-goal over with his left foot to give Toulouse a cushion before Poitrenaud struck again.

The full-back started a move that saw the French sweep from their own half into the Scarlets' 22 before a hand was laid by a tackler.

Lock Patricio Albacete fielded a cheeky overhead pass to straighten the attack, setting the ball for Jean Bouilhou to send Poitrenaud over in the left corner.

Scrum-half Courrent again made no mistake with the much more difficult conversion and Toulouse led 17-3.

Before the clock hit the half-hour mark Poitrenaud had his hat-trick, as a sloppy Scarlets turnover invited a swift counter-attack.

Maleli Kunavore - starting at outside centre after the late withdrawal of Yannick Jauzion - raced down the blind side before chipping ahead for Poitrenaud to claim another seven-pointer.

I thought if we put something together we'd have a chance and fortunately we've achieved something quite special

Scarlets director of rugby Phil Davies

It could have been even worse for the Welsh but for some sloppy handling by Kunavore, the Fijian spilling two passes at vital times with Toulouse seemingly set to score.

Toulouse lost their captain Fabien Pelous to injury after the France lock came down heavily on his ankle from a line-out jump, Romain Millo-Chlusky replacing him.

With the Toulouse pack distracted, Scarlets managed to win a scrum against the head and release their backline.

King slipped a pass out of the tackle and James picked the perfect inside line off his wing to claim his 26th try in Europe.

Jones converted to give the Scarlets a foothold in the match at 24-10, although Courrent did miss a penalty for Toulouse just before half-time.

Within seven minutes of the restart Toulouse had secured a bonus point for their fourth try, and incredibly it was that man Poitrenaud once again.

The full-back spotted Iestyn Thomas in the Scarlets defensive line and motored past the despairing prop, then left Davies grasping thin air as Poitrenaud stepped off his right to go under the posts.

If the French giants thought the job was done, they were given a rude awakening as Scarlets hit back with two tries in three minutes.

First Alix Popham's superb chip-and-gather sent Daniel away to stretch over, then a trademark dart from scrum-half Dwayne Peel paved Davies' way to the try line.

Dafydd James set Scarlets on their way with a first-half try
Dafydd James set Scarlets on their way with a first-half try

Jones converted both and then added a penalty to bring the Scarlets back to 31-27.

A penalty from Courrent pulled Toulouse away again, only for the Welsh to draw level with their fourth try.

Wing Daniel was the man to touch down a clever chip through, but Toulouse's Cedric Heymans appeared to have been tackled without the ball by Davies in the scramble.

With the scores tied, the scene was set for a thrilling finale to a match already packed with excitement.

Replacement Toulouse back-row Trevor Brennan was held up by Daniel over the line, then Fritz was just wide with a drop-goal attempt.

Scarlets absorbed the pressure and worked their way into enemy territory to produce the killer blow.

Jones dropped back for a mammoth drop-goal attempt, but as the Toulouse chasers zeroed in on the Wales fly-half he instead passed to King.

The New Zealand-born centre jinked away down the blind side to within five metres before being stopped, but replacement back-row Nathan Thomas was on hand to dive over.

The immaculate Jones, of course, added the conversion to seal an improbable victory and effectively send Toulouse crashing out of Europe.

The French can still harbour hopes of a runner-up spot, but are extremely unlikely to be one of the two second-placed teams with the best records who will advance to the quarter-finals along with the six pool winners.

  • Scarlets director of rugby Phil Davies:
    "Going in at half-time we were disappointed. Toulouse are a top side but they didn't have to work hard for their points.

    "I thought if we put something together in the second half we'd have a chance of achieving something and fortunately we've achieved something quite special.

    "We've tried to instil in our players that they should have a go with ball in hand, that's the way the boys want to play and that approach was never more evident than it was on this occasion."

    Toulouse: Clement Poitrenaud; Vincent Clerc, Maleli Kunavore, Florian Fritz, Cedric Heymans; Gaffie du Toit, Valentin Courrent; Daan Human, Yannick Bru (capt), Jean-Baptiste Poux, Fabien Pelous, Patricio Albacete, Jean Bouilhou, Thierry Dusatoir, Gregory Lamboley.
    Replacements: Virgil Lacombe for Bru (65), Salvatore Perugini, Romain Millo-Chlusky for Pelous (39), Yannick Nyanga for Lamboley (58), Jean-Baptiste Elissalde for Courrent (74), Benoit Baby for Poitrenaud (72), Trevor Brennan for Bouilhou (74).

    Scarlets: Barry Davies; Dafydd James, Regan King, Gavin Evans, Darren Daniel; Stephen Jones, Dwayne Peel (capt); Iestyn Thomas, Matthew Rees, Craig Dunlea, Adam Jones, Scott MacLeod, Dafydd Jones, Gavin Thomas, Alix Popham.
    Replacements: Ken Owens, Deacon Manu for Dunlea (32), Inoke Afeaki for A. Jones (40), Nathan Thomas for D Jones (75), Liam Davies, Ceiron Thomas, Garan Evans for Daniel (75).

    Referee: Chris White (England).

    Att: 16,800

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