Toulon 38-17 London Irish, Heineken Cup, December 18
Booth heaps praise on beaten Exiles
December 18, 2010
London Irish's Chris Malone forces his way over for a second half try at the Stade Mayol © Getty Images
London Irish coach Toby Booth believes his team passed a "character test" despite seeing their Heineken Cup hopes dashed with a 38-17 defeat in Toulon.
The Exiles stunned Stade Felix-Mayol with a rousing comeback after they were reduced to 14 men with a second yellow card for Sailosi Tagicakibau. They trailed 17-0 to early scores from forwards Olivier Missoup and Mickael Ivaldi before producing a remarkable turnaround to level through tries by Delon Armitage and replacement Alex Corbisiero.
However Felipe Contepomi restored Toulon's advantage before former Newcastle centre Tom May and Christian Loamanu scored late tries as the French took charge of Pool Three with maximum points and left London Irish bottom of the group with just two games remaining.
"I was very pleased with our reaction to huge adversity here in Toulon," said Booth. "It does not get much bigger than being away from home in the Heineken Cup against one of the best resourced clubs in world rugby and down to 14 men with 35 minutes left to go.
"That is a real character test but I thought we stood up well to that. The players used up a lot of energy in getting back on level terms and we all saw what happened in the final 10 minutes. There was no shortage of fight, commitment or effort. But that is what the Heineken Cup is all about. If we continue to play like that we have a great chance of turning this streak around."
Tagicakibau will face a disciplinary hearing following his sending-off for his two yellow-card offences. The first was in the 22nd minute for deliberately knocking on Joe van Niekerk's pass with Toulon players lining up to score out wide. The second after 45 minutes for deliberately preventing the player from releasing the ball came just moments after both teams had been warned over the ill-discipline.
"I will have to look at the incidents again and then make a judgement on whether they were justified," added Booth. "As for the final result, the scoreline does not lie. Those are the facts and we have to be honest about it."
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