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Toulouse outlast Wasps
Londoners miss out on famous victory over champions
Toulouse are 10/3 to retain the Heineken Cup after opening with a win. Bet now.
Reigning champions Toulouse kick-started their Heineken Cup campaign with a rain-drenched 18-16 home victory over Wasps.
The four-time European club champions, who have never successfully defended their title, were forced to rely on the boot of David Skrela for all their points in a tense encounter at Stade Municipal.
The only try of the game came courtesy of Wasps subsititute David Lemi, but it was not enough to prevent the hosts taking their first step towards a 13th appearance in the knockout stages of the competition.
The Londoners, returning to Europe's Heineken Cup rugby after a one-year absence, almost grabbed victory when they were awarded a penalty with just two minutes on the clock.
But fly-half David Walder saw his difficult long range effort drift wide of the posts, allowing the French giants to hang on for the win.
Wasps took an early lead courtesy of a penalty in the fourth minute that Walder slotted from close range.
Skrela replied with a routine three-pointer of his own to tie the scores six minutes later, as both sides appeared to struggle with the wet conditions in the opening exchanges.
Walder hit back almost immediately with his second successful kick before Skrela saw his next effort on 16 minutes bounce over off the crossbar to level things at 6-6.
Toulouse began to increase their intensity as the game entered the second quarter and full-back Clement Poitrenaud went agonisingly close on 24 minutes only to drop the ball with the try-line at his mercy.
The French fly-half was not so lucky with his next penalty attempt, which this time bounced back off the left upright.
But he made no mistake on the half-hour when offered another opportunity to put his side ahead for the first time in the game.
Wasps however refused to be daunted by their surroundings and with just four first-half minutes remaining Walder collected a quick tap from skipper Tom Rees and calmly slotted a fine drop goal to make it all square at 9-9.
The hosts were forced to wait almost 20 minutes after the restart to retake the lead, despite dominating possession for large periods of the game.
Skrela struck his fourth penalty on 59 minutes to make it 12-9 and three minutes later added three more to propel his side into a six-point lead.
But Wasps were far from done, and when Poitrenaud hesitated after a Walder kick through Lemi pounced, hacking on twice before diving onto the ball as it crossed under the posts
Referee Clancy did not immediately award the try and allowed play to continue after he failed to spot Lemi's hand on the ball.
But at the next stoppage he brought it back and referred the decision to the television match official who, after a short wait, awarded the try, much to the noisy dismay of the French fans
Walder added the extras with an easy conversion from in front of the sticks to put Wasps in front by a single point with 14 minutes to go.
The lead was short-lived though and when the visitors were yet again pinged at the scrum, Skrela made sure of the three points to put the Frenchmen back in control.
Wasps for a moment looked like they might steal a famous away win in the dying seconds, but Walder's distance kick was off target.Heineken Cup. Click here to bet.
|European Rugby Champions Cup|
|Sunday 25th January|
|European Rugby Champions Cup|
|Munster 65 - 10 Sale Sharks|
|Clermont Auvergne 18 - 6 Saracens|
|Bath 20 - 15 Glasgow Warriors|
|Montpellier 27 - 26 Toulouse|
|Saturday 24th January|
|Scarlets 3 - 26 Toulon|
|Ulster 26 - 7 Leicester Tigers|
|Northampton 8 - 32 Racing Metro Paris|
|Treviso 23 - 20 Ospreys|
|Castres 19 - 47 Harlequins|
|Wasps 20 - 20 Leinster|
|Sunday 18th January|
|Ospreys 9 - 20 Northampton|
|Racing Metro Paris 53 - 7 Treviso|
|Toulouse 18 - 35 Bath|
|Glasgow Warriors 21 - 10 Montpellier|
|Saturday 17th January|
|Harlequins 3 - 23 Wasps|
|Sale Sharks 13 - 22 Clermont Auvergne|
|Leinster 50 - 8 Castres|
|Toulon 60 - 22 Ulster|
|Saracens 33 - 10 Munster|
|Friday 16th January|
|Leicester Tigers 40 - 23 Scarlets|
|Sunday 14th December|
|Scarlets 22 - 13 Ulster|
|Clermont Auvergne 26 - 19 Munster|
|Wasps 44 - 17 Castres|
|Saturday 13th December|
|Leinster 14 - 13 Harlequins|
|Saracens 28 - 15 Sale Sharks|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com