Champs down battling Dragons
Toulouse run in three tries against battling Welshmen
Last Updated: 15/01/11 4:16pm
Clerc: 32nd try in competition
Defending champions Toulouse maintained their perfect record in this season's Heineken Cup as they ground out a 17-3 home victory over Newport-Gwent Dragons to stay top of Pool 6.
Although far from a vintage display by the French side, they still dominated the game at Stade Ernest Wallon and ran in three tries through skipper Thierry Dusautoir (two) and prolific winger Vincent Clerc.
The Dragons rarely threatened as an attacking force but demonstrated their spirit as they defended with courage and heart to frustrate their hosts for long periods, ultimately denying them a bonus point.
But the Welsh outfit had only a first-half Jason Tovey penalty to show for their efforts as Toulouse notched up their 11th consecutive win in the competition.
Signalling their intent to score tries from the off, Toulouse ran the ball at every opportunity as they looked to breach the Newport line.
Their early pressure paid off on 12 minutes as Dusautoir crossed for the opening score of the game, the flanker breaking from a ruck before twisting and turning his way over from close range.
David Skrela missed the conversion and the scoreline remained at 5-0 until five minutes before the break as the visitors stood their ground, keeping Toulouse at bay with some swarming defence.
But their line was breached again on 35 minutes, the Toulouse three-quarters sweeping the ball from right to left before Clement Poitrenaud broke the line and offloaded to Clerc on his shoulder, who went over to notch his 32nd career try in the competition.
Skrela was again off target with the conversion and the Dragons reduced the deficit three minutes later as Tovey landed a well-struck penalty.
The second half saw more Toulouse domination, but they were left frustrated on 54 minutes as, after a couple of penalties near the Dragons line, prop Census Johnson was penalised for collapsing a scrum with the hosts appearing poised to extend their lead.
The Dragons had another let-off on 63 minutes as Dusautoir took a Poitrenaud pass out of the hands of the unmarked Fritz and contrived to knock on with the line beckoning.
But the captain made up for his error six minutes later as he steered a rolling maul towards the visitors' try-line before burrowing over from close range - the try awarded after brief consultation with the video ref.
This time Skrela did add the extras from out wide, although Toulouse could not find the all-important fourth try in the final ten minutes.