Rugby Union: Toulouse sound reveille

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The Independent Online
EDINBURGH REIVERS saw their hopes of a European Cup upset disappear in a second-half French fightback as they went down 25-29 to Toulouse at Easter Road yesterday.

They led 25-13 at the interval, but the 1996 champions found their form, virtually securing a quarter-final spot with their third successive win, as Reivers' recalled stand-off Craig Chalmers missed seven kicks. The Scots, however, are still in contention for the knock-out stages.

They were out of the blocks quickly enough, with three tries in the opening 15 minutes, the first with barely 60 seconds on the clock.Toulouse, with 147 points to their credit in two previous pool matches, hardly looked interested, waking up just before the interval.

They then introduced Christophe Deylaud at stand-off and Stephane Ougier in the centre for the second half and these two - with a penalty and a drop goal respectively - were quickly into their stride to cut the lead to 25-19.

Emile N'Tamack's kick over the retreating defence sent Michel Marfaing racing clear to touch down in the corner after 54 minutes. Deylaud's conversion edged the French in front and his penalty clinched it.

Neil Francis, the former Ireland lock, yesterday said he stands by his recent allegations that drug abuse is widespread in the Irish game.

Three Irish players - one of them since exonerated - have tested positive for banned substances within the past 12 months. The other two, one of them an international tested after a Five Nations' game, will be investigated by an Irish Rugby Football Union tribunal.

"I could not, in all conscience, sit back and wait for somebody to die," Francis said. "I thought it best to put my hand up now."