Investec Champions Cup: Toulouse 31-19 Bath – visitors miss out on home knockout tie

  • By Alastair Telfer
  • BBC Sport

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

Juan Cruz Mallia played against England twice for Argentina at the World Cup

Investec Champions Cup Pool 2

Tries: Meafou, Ramos 2, Penalty try, Mallia Cons: Ramos 2

Tries: Obano, Du Toit, Lawrence Cons: Spencer 2

Bath missed out on a home knockout tie in the Investec Champions Cup after an entertaining away defeat at Toulouse.

Both sides scored three first-half tries, with Toulouse’s coming through Emmanuel Meafou, Thomas Ramos and a penalty try.

Bath, who were 12-0 down at one point, responded through Beno Obano, Thomas du Toit and Ollie Lawrence.

Juan Cruz Mallia and Ramos’ second try denied the Premiership side the crucial losing bonus point.

Bath, who had already qualified for the knockouts, only required one point for a home last-16 tie, which Harlequins take advantage of thanks to their big win over Ulster on Saturday.

The result secures Toulouse’s spot as number-one seed heading into the knockout stages, which ensures home advantage until the final.

Toulouse embrace tournament favourites tag

Both sides picked up maximum points from their first three games and remained the only two teams who could finish on a perfect 20 points.

Antoine Dupont’s Toulouse have been touted as the early favourites for the competition after scoring 147 points in those games.

Two early tries showed exactly why the five-time winners are so heavily tipped, with Meafou powering over before Dupont’s quick tap and kick through was finished by Ramos.

Johann van Graan’s side kept their cool knowing four tries or a losing bonus point would be enough for a home tie, and responded with a try from each of their props.

The pick of Bath’s first-half tries came from England centre Lawrence, who ran a hard line off the line-out to crash over and level the game, after Toulouse’s penalty try.

The free-scoring spirit slowed down in the second half as both sides heeded the importance of a winning score and top seed in the last 16.

Bath, who won the European Cup in 1998, have not appeared in the knockout stages since 2015 and came close to that all-important try but were held up by England’s Jack Willis.

Toulouse responded though, showing their class to score two tries in the closing period and remain one of the sides to beat in the knockouts.

Toulouse: Kinghorn; Mallia, Delibes, Ahki, Lebel; Ramos, Dupont (capt); Baille, Mauvaka, Aldegheri, Arnold, Meafou, Cros, Willis, Jelonch.

Replacements: Marchand, Ainu’u, Laulala, Brennan, Placines, Retiere, Guitoune, Capuozzo.

Bath: Gallagher; Cokanasiga, Ojomoh, Lawrence, Muir; Russell, Spencer (capt); Obano, Annett, Du Toit, Roux, Ewels, Bayliss, Cloete, Reid.

Replacements: Faiva, Schoeman, Stuart, Stooke, Richards, Schreuder, Bailey, Redpath.

Sin-bins: Charlie Ewels (29), Chris Cloete (62)

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