Mon, Jan 19, 2009 - Page 18 News List

HEINEKEN CUP: Euro Cup champs on brink following loss to Glasgow

AFP , PARIS

Ospreys’ James Kook, center, is tackled by Perpignan’s Chris Cusiter, left, during their European Cup match in Perpignan, France, on Saturday.

PHOTO: AP

Three-time European Cup champions Toulouse face a daunting trip to Bath next weekend to try and save their place in the knockout stages of the tournament after a shock 33-26 home defeat to Glasgow on Saturday.

The defeat — ending a run of 15 successive victories — puts them in a precarious position ahead of the Bath match as their English opponents had the opportunity to move ahead of them in the pool if they beat Newport-Gwent Dragons in Wales yesterday.

Only the six group winners and two best runners-up progress to the quarter-finals.

Toulouse’s performance was described as “catastrophic” by general manager Guy Noves.

“We wanted a bonus point, we got it ... we spent all our time seeking to find our rhythm,” Noves said. “Our heads were still very much at [French championship] Top 14 level, not the European Cup. The speed of the Scots put us into trouble early on.”

Toulouse had fought back brilliantly after the break, having trailed 23-3 with France scrum-half Jean-Baptiste Elissalde scoring nine points followed by a penalty try and then with another touchdown from winger Vincent Clerc four minutes from the end to set up a spine tingling finale.

However, the Scots held on giving their coach and former Scottish international center Sean Lineen a moment to savor.

“We had chances to counter-attack. We knew we were facing players of the quality of Vincent Clerc or Cedric Heymans,” the New Zealand born coach said. “We’re very proud of this victory, especially against Toulouse.”

For one of his tryscorers, Max Evans, it was almost a fantasy.

“It was a dream ... “It’s amazing to record such a victory here,” Evans said.

Wasps, the 2004 and 2006 champions, are also in danger of missing out.

They defeated Pool Two leaders Leinster 19-12 at Twickenham, but allowed the Irishmen to leave with a vital bonus point which could be enough to see them through when they entertain rock-bottom Castres in the last group game next week.

Leinster beat Wasps 41-11 in the teams’ first meeting and they will qualify should the two sides finish on level points.

Wasps’ French backrow star Serge Betsen scored the only try of the game but the reliable boot of Felipe Contempomi kept Leinster in touch. Perpignan, without the injured Dan Carter, beat Pool Three tabletoppers Ospreys 17-15 but were still eliminated as Leicester humbled Treviso 52-0.

Leicester, while leapfrogging Ospreys to the top of the table, face a tough final match as they travel to Wales next weekend.

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