Toulouse 18 Bath 35: Bath join race for top after 'fantastic' win over Toulouse

Louw dived over eight minutes from time to add to tries from Matt Banahan, Chris Cook and Jonathan Joseph

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Bath produced one of their finest European performances to win at Pool Four leaders Toulouse yesterday and enter a three-horse race for top spot which guarantees automatic quarter-final qualification.

With just the final round of group games to come this weekend, Toulouse, the four-time European champions, are now just a point ahead of Bath and two clear of third-place Glasgow Warriors.

On Sunday, Bath have home advantage against the Warriors before Toulouse play at bottom club Montpellier. Whoever fails to finish top will be left vying for a  best runners-up spot.

Mike Ford, the Bath head coach, hailed his team’s performance as “fantastic”, the icing on the cake being a fourth try, scored by Francois Louw, to complete a bonus-point win.

Louw dived over eight minutes from time to add to tries from Matt Banahan, Chris Cook and Jonathan Joseph in a dazzling first-half display.

“That was special and it was a great result to get five points and stop them getting anything,” Ford said. “We were fantastic in the first half and, had Anthony Watson scored, we would have led 29-7 with four tries inside half an hour.

“You have to give Toulouse credit, they fought their way back, which they were always likely to do here, and the game was in the balance for a long while at 25-18. But George [Ford] got back to make a try-saving tackle which was really important and helped clear the pressure. Then that last break by Jonathan Joseph [to set up Louw’s try] was just world class.”

Toulouse responded with tries from Yoann Maestri and Yoann Huget while former Leicester and England fly-half Toby Flood kicked eight points. However, Yannick Nyanga was denied by Ford and Louis Picamoles failed to make the most of an interception as Bath’s scrum helped the visitors hold out for a famous win.

“The substitutes did really well, added Mike Ford. “We talk all the time about the subs coming on and winning games after the lads have grafted and set the foundation. We’re in a good place at the moment. We can scrummage, we can drive and we showed again that we can also play some great rugby.”