Missed kicks cost Scarlets as Toulouse steal victory

Llanelli Scarlets 6 Toulouse 9
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The Independent Online

The Llanelli Scarlets coach, Gareth Jenkins, was brought crashing back down to earth as his Heineken Cup dream took a severe knock at Stradey Park last night.

The Llanelli Scarlets coach, Gareth Jenkins, was brought crashing back down to earth as his Heineken Cup dream took a severe knock at Stradey Park last night.

Named as part of the British Lions coaching staff just two days earlier, Jenkins saw his side miss 12 points at goal while three out of three for Jean-Baptiste Elissalde stole victory for an equally disappointing Toulouse.

This was a game that the Scarlets simply had to win, not only because of the rule of thumb that you must at least win your home pool games to progress, but also following their dismal start to the season in the Celtic League, which was reflected in the disappointing crowd.

Yet despite their stuttering domestic form, the Scarlets are usually a different prospect in Europe and those who defied the torrential downpour were at least treated to a barnstorming start.

Dominating the lineout and the exchanges on the ground, the Scarlets denied last season's finalists a sniff of the ball. But for all their possession, it was only thanks to an injury-time penalty that the Scarlets were level six points all at the break.

One chance after another went begging. First Tal Selley saw his kick roll into touch a yard from the line, before Chris Wyatt pushed close. The Scarlets had to settle for three points from Arwel Thomas.

Further chances were squandered as first Thomas and then Barry Davies ignored the spare man outside.

The irritation increased as, on a rare visit to the Scarlets' territory, Elissalde kicked Toulouse into a 6-3 lead before Thomas equalised on half-time.

In the second half, the Scarlets were handed an opening when the Argentine prop, Omar Hasan, was shown a yellow card for a professional foul, only for Thomas to miss his third place-kick. That his predecessor Stephen Jones booted Clermont Auvergne to victory over Toulouse last weekend will have been noted, especially as replacement Gareth Bowen missed a straight-forward effort five minutes from time.

Despite the Scarlets' dominance there was always a risk that Toulouse could pinch the game - which they did, with Elissalde's third penalty 12 minutes from time.

Llanelli Scarlets: Pens: A Thomas (2); Toulouse: Pens: J-B Elissalde (3)

Llanelli Scarlets: B Davies; G Evans (S Finau, 71), M Watkins, M Taylor, T Selley; A Thomas (G Bowen 71), D Peel; I Thomas (P John 51), M Rees, J Davies, V Cooper (A Jones 23), C Wyatt, D Jones, S Quinnell, S Easterby (capt).

Toulouse: C Poitrenaud (N Jeanjean 60); G Thomas, Y Jauzion, F Fritz, C Heymans (V Clerc 79); F Michalak, J-B Elissalde; J-B Poux (P Collazo 39-H-T, 68), Y Bru (W Servat 60), O Hasan, T Brennan (G Lamboley 60), F Pelous (capt), J Bouilhou, I Maka, C Labit.

Referee: C White (England)

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