Connacht's faint hopes of reaching the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-finals are over after Toulouse defeated Andy Friend's side 21-7 at the Sportsground.

The French champions sealed their passage through to the last eight as Pool Five winners, with converted scores from captain Jerome Kaino, Julien Marchand and Pita Ahki cancelling out an early Connacht penalty try.

The home side had gone into the Round 5 pool game third on eight points, one behind Gloucester and 10 short of leaders Toulouse.

Connacht made a strong start to the match. Wing Niyi Adeolokun almost raced through after a blocked down kick in Toulouse territory fell into his path after five minutes.

But South Africa World Cup winner Cheslin Kolbe rescued the visitors with an interception on the line.

Connacht only had to wait five more minutes to score the opening try however.

Match referee Luke Pearce awarded the hosts a penalty try after an irrepressible maul that overpowered the Toulouse lines.

Colby Fainga'a of Connacht, right, is shown a yellow card
Colby Fainga'a of Connacht, right, is shown a yellow card

Toulouse lock Joe Tekori was sin-binned following that try, affording Connacht an opportunity to build a platform against a temporarily depleted side.

But the province also lost back-row Colby Fainga'a to the sin-bin on 16 minutes, negating that momentary advantage. Just four minutes after that, Toulouse had their first try of the evening.

Jerome Kaino was awarded the try as the French side got on the board.

The momentum swung in Toulouse's favour in the remainder of the first half. 

But just as Connacht thought that they might get to the break all square, the away team struck.

Following a 38th minute line-out, Toulouse's maul powered up-field and hooker Julien Marchand finished off the drive, applying the finish.

They took that 14-7 lead into half-time, building on it immediately after the break.

Tom McCartney of Connacht
Tom McCartney

Jack Carty's kick from behind his own line was charged down and as the ball rolled loose behind the try-line, Toulouse centre Pita Ahki applied the finishing touch.

With Thomas Ramos unerring with his conversions, Connacht were left with a 14 point mountain to climb.

But they struggled to get any momentum until the final 20 minutes when Toulouse' discipline suddenly deserted them.

On 71 minutes, Toulouse were reduced to 14 men for the remainder of the match after a yellow card for Yoann Huget for a dangerous tackle on Tiernan O'Halloran.

And just two minutes later, a high tackle from Zack Holmes on O'Halloran left Toulouse to finish the match with just 13 players.

But despite briefly threatening the Top 14 team's defence, Connacht were unable to profit and Toulouse ran out victors.

While Toulouse march on, Connacht's campaign ends with a final pool game against Montpellier on January 19th.