Connacht registered a 23 – 21 victory in the opening round of the European Champions Cup as they condemned Toulouse to a record fifth successive away defeat in Europe.

A try from Bundee Aki in the 64th minute, converted by Craig Ronaldson, completed a magnificent fightback after they had fallen 10 points behind at the end of the first-half. The power of the Toulouse front row caused problems for the home side in the early exchanges and saw the visitors race into a nine point lead

But, playing in the top-tier of European rugby for the first time under their own steam after winning the Guinness PRO12 title, Connacht were never going to be overawed and stuck to their systems and, in the end, outscored the TOP 14 side by three tries to two

Sebastien Bezy kicked two of those early penalties for Toulouse and Florian Fritz added a third from long range. But once Connacht managed to get their hands on the ball they caused no end of problems for the four-time European champions.

A brilliant move from their own 22 after stealing a Toulouse line-out led to Niyi Adeolokun scoring in the right corner at the other end and then Jack Carty’s penalty cut the gap to a single point. A second Carty penalty then edged Connacht in front, but Toulouse came up with a big response.

Tries from Yann David in the left corner and Jean-Marc Doussain in the space of three minutes saw them regain control and lead 21-11 at the break. Connacht finished the half knocking on the Toulouse door for another try and they picked up two more in the second half.

Tiernan O’Halloran crossed in the 57th minute and then Heineken Man of the Match Aki burst through the remnants of the visitors defence and crossed in the right corner to level the scores. Ronaldson stepped up to end Connacht’s goalkicking problems to nail the conversion and leave Toulouse with 13 minutes to find a score.


Carty makes history as Connacht tame Lions