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Toulouse Beat Racing Metro 92 in Natixis Rugby Cup Hong Kong 2013

Travel News Asia Latest Travel News Podcasts Videos Monday, 11 November 2013
 

Ex-Springbok hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle scored the opening try to put Toulouse on their way to a hard-fought 19-12 victory over Racing Metro to win the Natixis Cup at Aberdeen Stadium in Hong Kong on Saturday.

Ralepelle, one of a number of foreign players turning out in the French Top 14 this season, was a favourite among the more than 5,000-strong crowd who watched the first-ever clash between two top European clubs in Asia which despite being labelled an exhibition game, was a red-hot affair.

It was full-on. Everyone was taking it very seriously even though this was game was not part of the league. We went out there intent on entertaining the fans for the real goal of this match was to spread the message of rugby in this part of the world, said Toulouses New Zealand star Hosea Gear.

The former All Blacks winger playing for the first time at inside centre was in the thick of the action with his defensive play a feature as Toulouse withstood a fierce comeback from Racing Metro after leading 19-5 at the break.

Today was also about spreading the brand of both our clubs. It was a no-holds barred game and both teams didnt take penalties as the idea was to play an expansive game as possible, Gear said.

With Toulouse providing seven players to the French national squad to take on New Zealand in Stade de France later on Saturday, Gear was called up to play in midfield rather than out wide on the wing.

Both our two normal centres are playing for France tonight and it was the first time that I played at inside centre and I enjoyed it, said Gear who was on for the full 80 minutes.

Quick passing, deft handling and multi-phase action kept the fans entertained. But the defence of both teams proved hard to break down. Solid forward play a rolling maul from a five-metre lineout resulted in the opening try to Ralepelle with fly-half Jean-Pascal Barraque adding the extra points.

Racing Metro hit back through impressive young flanker Luc Barba whose unconverted try was reward for a period of concerted pressure. But all that good work was undone when they lost influential flanker Camille Gerondeau to the sin-bin midway through the first half and his absence had an immediate impact with the Toulouse No. 8 Christopher Tolofua and his forwards burrowing their way over for a second try from close quarters.

The Toulouse backs then swept into motion with a well-executed move from primary possession from a lineout inside their own half to release Fijian winger Timoci Matanavou to dot down by the right corner flag.

Metro winger Adrien Plante scored the only try in the second half to close the gap to 19-12 but Toulouse was too strong and held on to win the inaugural Natixis Cup.

It has been a wonderful experience, especially for those guys who dont get a regular game, said blindside flanker Gregory Lamboley, standing in as captain for Thierry Dusautoir, skipper of the national team.

The victory will do a great deal for the confidence of the team as we look ahead to the second-half of the Top 14 season as well as the Heineken Cup, Lamboley added. Toulouse are presently third in the standings and are hoping to add another league title to the record 19 they have won.

Racing Metro, which has also treated the week-long visit and match as an opportunity for team bonding, declared the Hong Kong game a success despite a second loss to Toulouse this season.

This tour was important for our young players to push for a place in our top side, said Racing Metro head coach Laurent Labit. The most important thing was we had a good solid week of training and then finished it off with a good performance against a quality team like Toulouse.

Natixis, Racing Metro, Aberdeen, Hong Kong, Rugby, Toulouse, France

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