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Toulouse make light Champions Cup work of Sale

Toulouse's French fullback Thomas Ramos (R) claps the hand of Toulouse's French fly-half Romain Ntamack (L) during the European Rugby Champions Cup pool B rugby union match between Toulouse and Sale at the Ernest-Wallon Stadium, in Toulouse, south-western France on December 18, 2022. (Photo by Valentine CHAPUIS / AFP) (Photo by VALENTINE CHAPUIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Sale suffered a one-sided 45-19 defeat to Toulouse as one of the powerhouses of Heineken Champions Cup rugby racked up a bonus-point victory at Stade Ernest-Wallon.


Toulouse captain Antoine Dupont crossed for two tries as the five-time champions recorded a comfortable win and laid a marker down to all the teams in this season’s tournament.

Sale’s indiscipline cost them and they were down to 14 men for 30 minutes of the game, with hooker Akker Van Der Merwe, full-back Byron McGuigan and wing Tom O’Flaherty shown yellow cards.

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But Toulouse full-back Thomas Ramos was shown a red card for a headbutt in the 80th minute when Sale thought they had scored a try.

The French giants, with scrum-half Dupont and his half-back partner Romain Ntamack pulling the strings, were at their imperious best as they crossed for seven tries and put the Sharks to the sword.

Sale were without England centre Manu Tuilagi, who was ruled out with concussion suffered in the English side’s comfortable 39-0 win over Ulster, for the trip to France.

Sale’s first try was a comedy of errors from the French side as Sharks prop Bevan Rodd pounced on the loose ball, with impressive footballing skills, to cross for the visitors after only three minutes.


Fly-half Robert Du Preez added the conversion but Toulouse hit back almost immediately when flanker Thibaud Flament hit a great line to split the Sharks defence and score under the posts. Full-back Ramos added the conversion to make it 7-7 after a chaotic four minutes from both sides.


Toulouse’s forward power really put the Sharks under pressure as they recovered their renowned composure in European competition and soon had the reward.

Prop Cyril Baille was awarded the try when he emerged from the bottom of a driving lineout after an impressive maul broke the visitors’ defence to give the home side a 12-7 lead.


Toulouse then played the kind of rugby that has seen them crowned European champions when Pita Ahki and Lucas Tauzin combined to allow Dupont to cross for their third try.

Ramos converted to make it 19-7 to Toulouse midway through the first half before Sale went down to 14 men when hooker Van Der Merwe was yellow-carded for a tip tackle on Ramos.

Sale survived being down a man for 10 minutes and when Van Der Merwe returned he scored the try after an 11-man maul from a lineout to make it 19-12 to Toulouse at half-time.


After the break, Toulouse were awarded a penalty try after a high tackle by full-back McGuigan, who was sent to the bin, stopping Ramos following his kick and chase, and the Sharks were back down to 14 men with the home side 26-12 ahead.

Toulouse turned on the style when they ran in their fifth try from their own line with skipper Dupont finishing it, winning the race for the touchdown after a grubber kick to make it 33-12.

Wing Lucas Tauzin, fly-half Ntamack and Sale’s Ben Curry all crossed for tries in the second half but this was a comfortable win for Toulouse.


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