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Champions Cup: Stade Toulousain, the appetite comes with eating

The suspense lasted one half when the score was 10-0 for Toulouse.

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Champions Cup: Stade Toulousain, the appetite comes with eating

The suspense lasted one half when the score was 10-0 for Toulouse. But the domination of the Rouge et Noir was already obvious and the outcome of the match was inevitable. And then, a significant factor, Ugo Mola's players had just played the first act against the wind, particularly strong this Sunday, since each Toulouse candle inevitably slowed down. “With wind gusts of 70, 80 km/h, I was happy to be in front at half-time,” said the Haut-Garonne manager. Despite these climatic hazards, control was on the side of the reigning French champions. And the power of his forwards did enormous damage, on each impact, each melee, each grouping.

“We knew it was going to be easier in the second half with the wind,” confirms Antoine Dupont. We had a very serious match and the big guys responded to the physical challenge.” Behind this ultra-dominant pack, the finally recomposed hinge Antoine Dupont-Romain Ntamack was able to be at ease in the second half, and Toulouse finally made the break by scoring three times.

“When we have a pack of forwards that are dominant like today (Sunday), it’s always easier for the hinge,” recognizes the scrum half and captain of Toulouse, who also mentions the return of his friend Ntamack : “I don’t feel like we haven’t seen each other for months, which is a pretty good sign. Romain has prepared well for his return to regain all his bearings and get back to the game we know. He gave a very complete, very solid performance.”

Ugo Mola smiles at the mention of the successful return of his number 10: “He was quite sober, but he brings a form of serenity and I found him enterprising defensively. From the 50th minute, he looked at me quite regularly... (to ask him to go out, Editor's note) One thing is certain, he will get better and better as he goes out. Reassuring as the final sprint approaches. And this quarter-final, which will arrive on Sunday (4 p.m.), against the English of Exeter, who beat them (28-18) in the semi-final of the 2020 edition in the midst of the Covid-19 health crisis.

“I still remember this semi-final, where we changed in a tent in a parking lot... It’s a good English team. They are strong up front, with a good scorer and an ability to play shots well as soon as they present themselves, explains Ugo Mola. This club has succeeded in its transformation, they have lost a lot of players like successful teams but, like us, they are banking on training.

The Toulouse ogre, like every year, wakes up in the spring when the elimination matches begin. Here again, Dupont recalls that his team was “really ready to play this match: our defense was very efficient, even if we scared ourselves a few times when they managed to break a lot of tackles, but we were present in adversity, in impacts..." Once again, Stade Toulousain will have the advantage of hosting this elimination match in its lair of Ernest-Wallon. It is here that Toulouse beat Bath this year in the group stage, who were eliminated this weekend by Exeter.

“We know the quality of this Bath team, it’s not a small performance to have beaten them,” underlines Antoine Dupont. We have been warned. In any case, when we reach this stage of the competition, there are no more small matches and we will prepare as best we can. In search of a sixth Champions Cup crown, Toulouse is never satisfied. Ugo Mola suggests that “the difficulty of Stade Toulousain is not to make the wrong choice, to be in final phase mode when it arises. Today (Sunday), we were in final phase mode.” And they're just getting started.

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