Llanelli Scarlets 42 Toulouse 49: Thomas will test troublesome knee before start of Six Nations

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The Independent Online

With the Six Nations Championship a bare 12 days away Ruddock has half a dozen first-choice players on the sidelines with this misfortune or that.

After cantering through an exhilarating match, by the end of which Toulouse had secured a home quarter-final, Thomas, the Wales captain and full-back, said he would be turning out for his French club next weekend. Thomas played at Stradey Park with his knee heavily strapped.

"The strapping restricts my running; it is holding my knee in place and it is so tight I just can't run tidy with it," he said. "I am desperate to try to play without the strapping, because it is not right when I play with it. So next week against Pau, the strapping is coming off."

That decision is likely to give Ruddock an anxious afternoon.

"If the club tells me I've got to play then I play. That's the way it has always been," said Thomas. "I feel great, but I'll feel even better come Monday when I am back in the squad with the boys. I'll have a good week training with Wales. It will take more than this knee to stop me playing.

"They've got some new device for my knee, it's something for horses. I hope it's for racehorses and not carthorses."

There were certainly no carthorses on the Stradey paddock, only thoroughbred rugby players who produced a feast of rugby dripping with skill, studded with pace and laced with 11 tries.

Four of those went to the right wing Vincent Clerc, who has the centre Yannick Jauzion to supply him with high-quality ball. The pair of them were outstanding.

Toulouse had arrived in Wales needing four tries to claim the bonus point that would give them that all-important home tie and thanks to Clerc, the No 8 Isitolo Maka and Jauzion's powerful centre partner, Florian Fritz, that was in the bag by half-time. All they then needed to do was win the match.

Since, at that point, the Scarlets were breathing down the French side's neck a mere six points away, that was not guaranteed until the final whistle, by which time the Welsh side had contributed the try of the match, if not of the season.

The full-back Barry Davies and the Wales wing Mark Jones stitched together some glittering interplay as they galloped 85 metres to the Toulouse line. Davies, who had scored a try after just 49 seconds of the match, provided a touch of symmetry by touching down for the home side's fifth try.

The Scarlets' pride had been restored and Ruddock at least knows that Jones is back to his best, even if another member of his stable may pose problems before the start of Wales' Grand Slam defence.

Llanelli Scarlets: Tries B Davies 2, Madden, King, Peel; Conversions Hercus 4; Penalties Hercus 3. Toulouse: Tries Clerc 4, Maka, Fritz; Conversions Elissalde 5; Penalties Elissalde 3.

Llanelli Scarlets: B Davies; M Jones, M Watkins, R King, D James (capt); M Hercus, D Peel; M Madden, M Rees, J Davies, H Louw (I Afeake, 56), A Jones, D Jones, G Thomas (G Quinnell, 77), A Popham.

Toulouse: G Thomas; V Clerc, Y Jauzion, F Fritz (M Mermoz, 65), X Garbajosa; F Michalak (J-F Dubois, 44), J-B Elissalde; J-P Poux, Y Bru (capt), O Hasan (D Human, 72), F Pelous, R Millo-Chlusky (G Lamboley, 61), J Bouilhou, Y Nyanga (J-F Montauriol, 66), I Maka.

Referee: D Pearson (England).