After ideally launching its European campaign in Cardiff, Toulouse will now face a major challenge in London, facing breathtaking Harlequins.
Some Toulouse players took a little wand on their fingers during the week of preparation for the match against Cardiff. Because not everyone had done their traditional duty for the month of December. Namely revising the new formula of the European competition even if the latter still holds a special place in the Toulouse spirit as Antoine Dupont confided after the meeting: “There is always a special atmosphere in Toulouse when we attack the Coupe d’ Europe. We know the appetite of this club for this competition. »
Stade Toulousain-Cardiff: seven tries, a newfound defense and a super Dupont for an entry into the Champions Cup in major mode
To make a long story short, remember that the format of the first phase is very… short. And if a single misstep doesn’t eliminate you from the race at the final stages, it will likely remove you from the number one and number two spots in the final draw; those which allow you to play the semi-final in your country. The Stadium paid to see last season with a semi-final in Dublin for a forgotten try in Sale. We will therefore have to try to win all four matches (trips to Harlequins and Ulster; reception of Bath) and not forget the bonuses along the way.
From then on, the success against Cardiff fully fits into the specifications (enhanced victory and general goal average of +45, the highest total currently).
But the Stadium may have made the easy part. Because we now have to move outside. And there, it is a real challenge that awaits the Toulouse residents to the extent that they have struggled this season in the Top 14: only one success in Oyonnax for three defeats (Pau, Castres and Stade Français). Another competition, another result. Ugo Mola hopes so but he is waiting for a trigger from outside: “The European Cup will be perfectly launched on the evening of the second round (Sunday at 4:15 p.m. in London) if we are able to respond to the offensives of the Harlequins and the intensity that will be put there. Since the start of the season, despite everyone’s analyses, we have not been pushed to our limits at home. The problem is outside. Every time there has been an impasse, we have lost it. We are going to prepare to play a showdown because Harlequins are not going to give us the match before we get there. »
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In any case, the Toulouse staff intends to learn the lessons of Cardiff to prepare well for this meeting. The unstructured game of the Welsh (56% possession for them!) with a lot of passing was well countered by the Toulouse defense which made 152 tackles (17 for Thibaud Flament).
Harlequins: what an orgy of play!
But it will be necessary to ensure even more defensive performances against the impressive Harlequins who won at Racing with the offensive bonus (31-28). Certainly, the Ile-de-France residents were sometimes too easily pierced but what an orgy of play from start to finish on the English side who had forced the Racingmen to make more than forty tackles in the first twenty minutes of the match. It will be necessary to leave few balls and few spaces for Harlequins to avoid committing the same mishap as Racing. And it’s almost a hope for Toulouse residents that it will rain in London on Sunday…