Cooper coasts as Toulon, Toulouse romp to big wins

Australian fly-half Quade Cooper enjoyed the ideal introduction to the Top 14 as he steered Toulon to a 52-8 thrashing of Montpellier on Saturday.

Toulouse would not be out-done as they also ran in eight tries to go second as they blitzed Grenoble 52-12.

Cooper flourished behind a dominant pack, Fijian winger Josua Tuisova scoring a second-half hat-trick as the home side ran in eight tries to one for a well-deserved bonus point.

“I’m very excited to be here and to start off with a win like that you can only dream of,” said 27-year-old Cooper.

“As a team we had ambitions and the goal to go out there and win with a bonus point. The way we went about that was to play a hard game at the start and then use the backs.

“I’m not saying it was a surprise but it was something we worked all week to achieve.”

Cooper was little used by the Wallabies in the World Cup, but showed few signs of ring rustiness in his first run-out for the three-time European champions.

His fallibility and genius were both on show in the first-half, a no-look grubber setting up the second of Lachie Turner’s tries but a forced one-handed sling pass leading to Montpellier’s intercept try through Julien Malzieu.

Toulon might have been missing the likes of Bryan Habana, Matt Giteau, Drew Mitchell, Ma’a Nonu, Leigh Halfpenny, Duane Vermuelen, Paul O’Connell, Frederic Michalak and James O’Connor, but they could still afford to field a star-studded team packed with experienced internationals.

Toulon broke the deadlock after 21 minutes when American lock Manu Samoa split the cover to sprint in from 30 metres for a try.

With Montpellier’s defence in disarray, Toulon skipper Juan Smith managed a great inside pass to Turner for a second home try at a sun-kissed Stade Felix-Mayol.

Turner crossed for his second just two minutes later, Cooper producing a beautiful, no-look grubber for the winger to touch down over the line.

Ben Lucas finally got Montpellier on the board with a 36th-minute penalty before Cooper handed the visitors a lifeline back into the game. A forced pass was intercepted by ex-Clermont winger Malzieu, who outran Turner over 70 metres, Lucas going wide with the conversion.

Toulon nailed an attacking bonus point when Fijian winger Tuisova scored the first of three quick-fire tries, played in after Cooper held up his pass from close range.

Tuisova scored his second after Malzieu was sucked off his line from a five-metre scrum, allowing the Fijian a free run-in and Anthony Floch’s misspass was picked off by Tuisova, who sprinted in for his hat-trick in the 62nd minute.

No.8 Steffon Armitage was at the back of a driving maul to dot down for Toulon’s seventh try, before replacement scrum-half Sebastien Tillous-Borde rubbed salt in Montpellier’s wounds.

– Bulldozer Picamoles –

In Toulouse, France No.8 Louis Picamoles was at his bulldozing best as the four-time European champions scored five tries before the break.

Gael Fickou opened the scoring against a stretched defence as he cut inside and went under the posts.

Picamoles then set up Sebastien Bezy for his first of two tries after picking up from the back of a scrum and putting his half-back in down the blindside.

Former England international Toby Flood, who also knocked over five conversions, was next to benefit from more destructive running by Picamoles.

Christopher Tolofua picked up from the back of a ruck and set up Bezy for his second before Piccamoles went alone and drove over with three defenders hanging onto him.

Laurent Bouchet stoped the rot as he barrelled over just before half-time to leave Grenoble trailing 31-5 at the break.

Flood teed up Fickou for his second before Picamoles was given an early night just seven minutes into the second period, much to the relief of Grenoble’s battered pack.

Fickou got his hat-trick with a long-range counter after Grenoble turned over cheap ball in the Toulouse half.

Gilles Bosch glided in under the posts for Grenoble’s second try but on the final buzzer, Fijian wing Timoci Matanavou collected Maxime Medard’s chip to the corner to snare the eighth score.

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