Wasps left frustrated in Toulon


Published: Sunday 5th April 2015 by The News Editor

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Dai Young accused Toulon match-winner Ali Williams of escaping a “blatant yellow card” before scoring the try that sealed Wasps’ Champions Cup 32-18 quarter-final defeat.

Rugby director Young admitted Wasps were left frustrated by former All Blacks lock Williams escaping a sin-binning for tugging back Elliot Daly off the ball.

Wasps closed to within seven points of double European champions Toulon with six minutes to play thanks to wing Will Helu’s second try, but Williams crossed in the dying stages to close out victory.

Superstar-studded Toulon struggled through unforced sloppiness throughout, before Williams sealed the triumph – and Young is adamant the 33-year-old should have been off the field at the time of that pivotal score.

“There are three people who didn’t see it – the referee and the two touch judges,” said Young.

“I don’t want it to sound like sour grapes because they have probably had a bit too much for us on the day.

“But in saying that we ended up scoring three-and-a-half minutes later.

“So if we’d had a penalty try then and the yellow card, it would probably have allowed us to really mount a real challenge.

“It certainly would have made it interesting.

“It’s frustrating because if you look at their first try, their lineout in the build-up was nowhere near straight.

“Little things go against you but when you’ve won the European cup twice you tend to get the 50-50s.

“We were hugely frustrated by that, hugely frustrated by the decision and them still having 15 players on the field when it was a blatant yellow card and a blatant sin-bin.”

France centre Mathieu Bastareaud opened the scoring with a try after seven minutes in an ominous start for Wasps, but Toulon struggled for fluency throughout.

Fly-half Frederic Michalak’s flawless 22 points from the tee in truth sealed the victory as much as Williams’ late score.

Wasps dominated at the scrum but failed to impose themselves elsewhere in a scrappy first half, before seizing on a rare moment of introspection from Toulon to storm back into contention through Helu’s double.

Williams tugged back centre Daly before crossing in the right corner to tie up the victory, and secure Toulon a semi-final clash with Leinster at Marseille’s Stade Velodrome.

Toulon will host three-time Heineken Cup winners Leinster in Marseille on Sunday, April 19, after the Irish province edged past Bath on Saturday.

Wasps boss Young admitted Aviva Premiership clubs naturally face an uphill struggle against their cash-rich French counterparts, whose squad spending knows precious few limits.

Premiership champions and runaway league leaders Northampton fell well short in a 37-5 defeat to Clermont Auvergne, leaving Saracens as England’s sole semi-final representatives.

Young admitted the top Premiership sides only stand a chance of seeing off the cream of the French crop when they can field their strongest line-ups.

“The top four teams consistently over the last three or four seasons are up there,” said Young.

“But you know you’ve got to catch them on a day when they are having problems, because there are world-class players across the board.

“There’s no room for error against these top French teams.

“Their weakest players tend to have only 25 caps as opposed to 45.

“So they have very few weaknesses right across the board and I think when Leigh Halfpenny had his bump on the head and he was ruled out, it left us only five international full-backs to look at really!

“It’s certainly a step up when you know what you’re coming up against.

“Teams in the Premiership must arrive at these games playing their best team.

“There’s no way we can match their squads with the salary cap, and two or three injuries will obviously hurt us a lot more than it will for Racing, Clermont and Toulon.”

The Toulon juggernaut rumbles towards a record-breaking third consecutive European crown meanwhile, despite an error-strewn performance.

Toulon captain Carl Hayman admitted the Stade Mayol side were relieved to emerge unscathed after a below-par showing.

“It wasn’t what we demand of ourselves to be honest,” said Hayman.

“But we got through, and that’s what counts.

“We’re just happy to come away with a win, any way you can get over the line in this championship, you take it.”

Wasps may have seen their European campaign come to an end, but they impressed former Toulon talisman Jonny Wilkinson.

The England World Cup winner wrote on Twitter: ” Massive respect to Dai Young + @WaspsRugby team 4 an outstanding performance + 4 what you’re all doing for rugby. Have a great end of season”

Published: Sunday 5th April 2015 by The News Editor

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