Toulouse secured a narrow 20-22 victory over Bath Rugby, as the Blue, Black and White opened up their Heineken Champions Cup campaign at the Rec.
After capitalising on the kick-off, it was Bath who found themselves in front after two minutes. The home side went through a number of phases inside the Toulouse half and were rewarded for their patience with a penalty out wide. Freddie Burns pointed to the sticks and slotted the first points of the game. [3-0]
The French side were next to strike with the first try of the afternoon at the Rec. After turning the ball over inside the Bath half, Sofiane Guitoune provided the crucial break, which took his side deep into the 22. Toulouse made some hard yards to take them within touching distance of the try line before Maxime Medard provided the finishing touch on the short side. Thomas Ramos added the extras, giving the visitors a four-point lead after nine minutes. [3-7]
Bath regained the lead 15 minutes before the interval. A charging run from Dave Attwood gave his side the momentum in the 22, before Francois Louw carried strongly to put his side 10 metres from the line. Quick ball from Chris Cook put Jamie Roberts through the gap, and the centre used all his experience to break the tackle and spin his way over the line. Burns’ conversion gave Bath a three-point lead. [10-7]
The Blue, Black and White added a further score to extend their lead five minutes later. A superb offload from Tom Dunn on halfway sent Rhys Priestland through to the Toulouse 10 metre line. Jackson Willison was next to test the opposition defence, as he broke through and offloaded to Henry Thomas, who was stopped just short of the line. Bath used the numbers wide, and Burns was able to wriggle his way over the whitewash before adding the extra two points. [17-7]
Toulouse hit back and it was South African international Cheslin Kolbe, who was the architect of their next score. The winger showed his acceleration down the right wing before sidestepping two defenders as he came in field. The winger then offloaded to Guitoune outside him, who provided the simple finish. [17-12]
A minute before the break, Jerome Kaino was shown a yellow card for a high tackle on Jamie Roberts, but Burns was unable to take advantage from the resulting kick, as his attempt drifted wide of the posts. [17-12]
Half-time - Bath Rugby 17-12 Toulouse
Bath extended their lead seven minutes into the second half, with Burns notching an impressive penalty from distance out towards the touchline. [20-12]
Bath were next to lose a man, with Tom Ellis sent to the sin-bin for a tip tackle. Toulouse took advantage, as Ramos put his side within five points from the resulting penalty. [20-15]
Toulouse made use of their man advantage, as they took the lead eight minutes later. The visitors pressured their way up the field, and a penalty put the four-time champions five metres from the line. Toulouse were unable to get over the line from close range, and as a result spread the ball out wide with Guitoune on hand to score his second try. The successful conversion attempt gave the visitors a narrow two-point lead going into the last 16 minutes. [20-22]
It looked like Bath snatched it at the death, with Burns crossing five minutes from time. The full-back found his way behind the Toulouse defence, but as he looked touch the ball down, the ball was dislodged from his grasp. [20-22]
Toulouse held strong in the closing few minutes to give the visitors a winning start to their European campaign.
Full-time - Bath Rugby 20-22 Toulouse