Edinburgh 13 Toulouse 20: Michalak shines but mystery surrounds Pringle's absence

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The Independent Online

Todd Blackadder, the Gunners acting head coach, had expected to start Fergus Pringle alongside Scott Murray in the second row. But Pringle arrived in a daze, his face splattered with blood. He was replaced by Alasdair Strokosch and taken to hospital, though no explanation for his condition has been forthcoming.

Toulouse had to rely on the multi-talented Frédéric Michalak to save them from an embarrassing defeat. The French giants, who became the first club to lift the trophy three times when they beat Stade Français here last May, were in all sorts of bother against a resurgent Edinburgh side who recovered splendidly after a poor first half.

Toulouse appeared unruffled by the 23rd-minute departure of their injured scrum-half Jean-Baptiste Elissalde, bringing on Jean-Frédéric Dubois and moving Michalak to No 9. Although Dubois is a tidy operator at outside-half, he is unable to offer the control of Michalak. Even so, two penalties by Michalak, one from Elissalde and a well-taken try by Vincent Clerc meant Toulouse were cruising towards the break.

Then Edinburgh struck back. With half-time beckoning, the Gunners laid siege to the Toulouse line. At first it looked as if the visiting forwards had it covered, but Mike Blair sniped around the open-side of the rolling maul for an unexpected try, which Chris Paterson converted. Emboldened, Edinburgh made all the running in the third quarter. Paterson reduced the deficit to a single point with two penalties and the French club ended up in serious trouble.

Inevitably, it was the imperturbable Michalak who steadied the ship. Yet he took advantage of a tiring defence and, with a little more control at vital moments, Edinburgh might just have sneaked it. They deserved their bonus point.

Toulouse may have beaten the Gunners to stay top of Pool Six, but they never truly outgunned them.

Edinburgh: Try Blair; Conversion Paterson; Penalties Paterson 2. Toulouse: Try Clerc; Penalties Elissalde, Michalak 3; Drop goal Michalak.

Edinburgh: H Southwell; C Paterson (capt), M Di Rollo, P Jorgensen, (M Dey, 74) S Webster; P Godman, M Blair (R Lawson, 75); D Hewett (C Smith, 70), D Hall, C Smith (A Jacobsen, 54) A Strokosch (S Cross, 64) S Murray, M Mustchin, A Hogg, S Taylor.

Toulouse: G Thomas; V Clerc, Y Jauzion, F Fritz, C Heymans; F Michalak, J-B Elissalde (J-F Dubois, 23); J-B Poux, Y Bru (capt), O Hasan (G Menkarska, 70), R Millo-Chlusky, T Brennan (J-F Montauriol, 70), J Bouilhou (J Ledevedec, 70), Y Nyanga, F Maka (I Maka, 62).

Referee: D Thompson (England).

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