FOUR-TIME CHAMPIONS TOULOUSE cruised past twice winners Leicester 23-9 in the torrential rain of south-west France today in a battle of European Cup heavyweights.
The win could prove crucial in a Pool 2 which also includes powerful Welsh side Ospreys who had opened their campaign with a bonus point 38-17 win over Treviso on Friday.
Toby Flood had kicked Leicester 9-6 ahead by the 35th minute with three penalties to a brace from former All Black Luke McAlister to briefly give the English side hope of repeating Harlequins’ shock win at Toulouse last season.
But the game turned on a fine individual try by highly-rated centre Gael Fickou just before the interval.
Leicester’s Thomas Waldrom lost the ball at the halfway line, 18-year-old Fickou kicked ahead, outsprinting his pursuers to score what was the only try of the game much to the delight of the 38,000 crowd.
McAlister missed the conversion but went on to kick four second-half penalties as Toulouse flexed their muscles.
“With the rain falling heavily, it was a really difficult match,” said Toulouse coach Guy Noves.
“It was tough so I can only congratulate my players for rolling up their sleeves although it was unfortunate that we didn’t score one or two more tries and kill off the opposition.”
Leicester coach Richard Cockerill admitted his side had paid the price for not hammering home their advantage when they were ahead.
“We controlled the match for 38 minutes when we kept up a three-point lead and we wanted to take the match in hand,” he said.
“But we weren’t able to do it for more than the first half and we have to be better than that. We didn’t do it and we were punished for it.”